A palpable buzz surrounded Johnny Russell's arrival to Sporting Kansas City in January of 2018.


The Scottish winger had been a fan-favorite at Derby County in the second-division English Championship for his tireless rate, attacking quality and overall persona. His transition to Major League Soccer was significant, if only because the vast majority of Scottish internationals plied their club trade in either Scotland or England.


But Russell chose to roll the dice with a move to MLS, forgoing the California beaches and East Coast metropolises to setting in the American heartland. And the Sporting Kansas City faithful are remarkably happy he did.


Over the course of 2018 and 2019, anyone who saw Sporting in action would agree that Russell was among the team's most prominent contributors. He earned Offensive Player of the Year honors in both seasons, notching nine goals and 11 assists in all competitions last year after delivering 12 goals and 13 assists in his debut campaign. Russell's slaloming runs on the wing are simply a nightmare for opposing defenders, and his track record of scoring and providing goals speaks for itself.



A truncated and disjointed season has seen Russell add a goal and an assist across four starts, including the fourth-earliest goal in club history which spurred a 2-0 defeat of Real Salt Lake on July 22 in the MLS is Back Tournament at Walt Disney World. By scoring less than 50 seconds into the game, Russell became just the fifth MLS player to hit 20 goals and 20 assists in regular season play since the start of 2018.


PLAYERS WITH 20 GOALS & 20 ASSISTS SINCE 2018
(MLS REGULAR SEASON)

<strong>Player</strong>
<strong>Club</strong>
<strong>Goals</strong>
<strong>Assists</strong>
<strong>Games</strong>
Carlos Vela
LAFC
50
28
61
Diego Valeri
Portland Timbers
21
29
68
Darwin Quintero
Houston Dynamo<br> Minnesota United FC
22
22
61
Alberth Elis
Houston Dynamo
22
20
58
Johnny Russell
Sporting Kansas City
20
20
63

Due to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Russell has made just seven total appearances for club and country through the first seven months of 2020. However, he's in for a wildly busy late summer and fall. Sporting is scheduled to play 18 more league matches between now and Decision Day on Nov. 8, with the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs to follow from Nov. 20 to Dec. 12.


On the international stage, Scotland will play six fixtures in the 2020-21 UEFA Nations League in the September, October and November FIFA windows. If travel guidelines permit, Russell could be highly involved. His place in the Scotland team, it should be noted, was solidified in 2018 when his breakout at Sporting began. Ten of his 14 career caps have come as a member of Sporting, with his first four dispersed from 2014-2015.


Currently occupying first place in the Western Conference with 12 points and a 4-1-0 record, Russell and Sporting will continue their regular season journey on Aug. 21 with a visit to Minnesota United FC as Major League Soccer returns to home markets. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus.

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