Children's Mercy Park debutant Jose Mauri and captain Johnny Russell struck inside the first six minutes as Sporting Kansas City (12-5-7, 43 points) reclaimed second place in the Western Conference with a 2-0 home win over Chicago Fire FC (6-12-5, 23 points).

Mauri opened his MLS scoring account in the fourth minute, capitalizing on a costly error from Chicago goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, and Russell doubled his team's advantage two minutes later to give Sporting its fastest two goals in club regular season history.

The comprehensive result vaults Sporting from third to second in the Western Conference table, two points behind leaders Seattle Sounders FC, while Chicago drops to 12th in the East with losses in each of its last six trips to Children's Mercy Park since 2017. Sporting goalkeeper Tim Melia notably reached the 10-win threshold for the seventh consecutive regular season, tied for the longest such streak in MLS history, by posting his sixth shutout of 2021 and the club's first clean sheet on home soil since May 16.

Riding newfound momentum, Sporting can jump atop the West on Wednesday when regional rivals Minnesota United FC (8-7-7, 31 points) visit Children's Mercy Park for a 7:30 p.m. CT kickoff. Tickets for the pivotal matchup are available at with live coverage on Bally Sports Kansas City Plus, Bally Sports Midwest Plus, and the Bally Sports app.

Sporting's lineup was bolstered by the return of two international players as forward Daniel Salloi and midfielder Gadi Kinda returned from their European stints with Hungary and Israel, respectively. They accounted for the two changes to Manager Peter Vermes' lineup from a road loss to Los Angeles FC last Friday as winger Khiry Shelton moved to the bench and Roger Espinoza served a red card suspension.

The hosts landed two haymakers in the early stages, but not before surviving a scare in the third minute when Chicago's Fabian Herbers sent a bouncing header narrowly wide of the post.

Mauri effectively turned the game on its head, receiving a pass from Remi Walter unleashing a low drive from 23 yards that snuck fortuitously between the legs of Shuttleworth and nestled into the back of the net. The Argentine-Italian bagged his first MLS goal on the play, while Walter tallied his first assist for the club as Sporting extended their team-record home scoring streak to 27 regular season matches.

Chicago had barely recovered from falling behind when Russell, logging his 100th regular season appearance in Sporting blue, added to the scoreline. With six minutes on the clock, Salloi galloped down the left flank and saw his left-footed effort saved by Shuttleworth, but Sporting's captain was on hand to steer home the rebound with the simplest of finishes for his fifth goal of the season. The two goals by the 5:40 mark of the first half were Kansas City's quickest in an MLS regular season match, outpacing the opening two goals of a 4-2 victory at D.C. United on April 14, 2007.

Brimming with confidence, Sporting threatened again in the 12th minute when Kinda drive at the heart of the Chicago defense and the ball ricocheted to Pulido, whose shot was blocked by Shuttleworth. Pulido would go agonizingly close once more with five minutes remaining in the opening stanza, uncorking a 22-yard piledriver that pinged off the inside of the left post.

The Fire weren't without a few dangerous looks of their own in the first period, as Robert Beric nodded marginally wide off an Alvaro Medran cross in the 34th minute. Head coach Raphael Wicky's side improved after the break, as well, and Chicago were unfortunate not to grab a goal back in the 58th minute when Luka Stojanovic rattled the crossbar on a sweetly struck half volley at the top of the box. The woodwork spared Sporting's blushes again six minutes later, with Herbers blasting a long-range shot off the top of the frame.

Sporting held Chicago without a shot on target until the 75th minute. Melia raced off his line to leap and block a chipped attempt from Chinonso Offor, then smothered a pair of speculative shots from Herbers and Federico Navarro.

2021 MLS Regular Season | Match 24
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 18,467
Weather: 81 degrees and sunny

Sporting KC 2-0 Chicago Fire FC
Sporting Kansas City (12-5-7, 43 points)
Chicago Fire FC (6-12-5, 23 points)


Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Ilie Sanchez, Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins; Jose Mauri (Khiry Shelton 78'), Gadi Kinda, Remi Walter; Johnny Russell (C), Alan Pulido (Cam Duke 85'), Daniel Salloi
Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Amadou Dia, Roberto Puncec, Kaveh Rad, Grayson Barber, Wilson Harris

Chicago Fire FC: Bobby Shuttleworth; Boris Sekulic (Jhon Espinoza 46'), Jonathan Bornstein (C), Miguel Navarro, Mauricio Pineda (Federico Navarro 46'), Carlos Teran; Luka Stojanovic, Alvaro Medran, Fabian Herbers, Stanislav Ivanov (Ignacio Aliseda 70'); Robert Beric (Chinonso Offor 46')
Subs Not Used: Gabriel Slonina, Johan Kappelhof, Wyatt Omsberg, Javier Casas, Elliot Collier

Scoring Summary:
SKC -- Jose Mauri 1 (Remi Walter 1) 4’
SKC -- Johnny Russell 5 (unassisted) 6'

Misconduct Summary:
CHI -- Luka Stojanovic (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 32'
CHI -- Federico Navarro (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 53'
CHI -- Miguel Navarro (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 68'

Match Statistics
Shots on Goal
Corner Kicks

Referee: Jon Freemon
Assistant Referee: Cameron Blanchard
Assistant Referee: Brian Poeschel
Fourth Official: Chris Ruska
VAR: Chico Grajeda
AVAR: Jonathan Johnson