Sporting Kansas City captain Johnny Russell was voted the Major League Soccer Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire for Matchday 38 of the 2023 season, MLS announced on Monday.
Russell scored twice in Sporting KC's 3-1 victory over Minnesota United FC at Children's Mercy Park on the final day of the MLS regular season on Saturday to clinch Sporting's berth in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Scottish skipper recorded the seventh multi-goal match of his Sporting career, tying Preki for third most in club history, and his 11 regular season goals during the month of October are most all-time for the team. Russell has scored in each of his last three matches and finished the 2023 regular season campaign with eight goals, joining Dom Dwyer (2014-16) and Preki (1996-98) as the only KC players to score eight goals in three consecutive seasons.
Russell opened the scoring in the 28th minute when he dribbled at a Minnesota defender, cut onto his left foot, and fired a curling effort into the side-netting to give Sporting a 1-0 advantage (Watch Here). After Kansas City and Minnesota exchanged goals, Russell solidified all three points in the 78th minute. The forward chased down a Loons defender and blocked the clearance into the air, which he volleyed home from short range to seal a postseason spot (Watch Here).
"He is a true captain in the sense that he is an incredible example for the rest of the guys," Manager Peter Vermes said postgame on Saturday. "I remember when I first was scouting Johnny and the one thing I always thought is that he had the it factor and that is for the big games because he’s got big balls and he’s going to step up, simple as can be. He was big-time tonight. I can’t say enough."
"With the team that we've got, you can never count us out," Russell said postgame on Saturday. "No one wants to start the season the way we did, but the way we've turned it around, it takes a strong group to do that...Now we have to show that same resilience that we've shown to get to this point and try and make a push."
This is the fourth time Russell has earned Player of the Matchday honors in his career, joining Chris Klein (five), Preki (five), and Josh Wolff (six) as the only players with at least four Player of the Matchday awards in Sporting Kansas City history.
The MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire is selected each matchday of the regular season through both media and fan voting in a process conducted by MLS Communications. A panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) comprises 75 percent of the vote, while a Twitter fan vote represents the remaining 25 percent of voting. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio and online media.
Sporting KC All-Time MLS Players of the Week/Matchday
- 2023: Alan Pulido (Matchday 18) & Johnny Russell (Matchday 38)
- 2021: Daniel Salloi (Week 28) & Johnny Russell (Week 33)
- 2020: Alan Pulido (Week 15)
- 2019: Johnny Russell (Week 13)
- 2018: Tim Melia (Week 6) & Johnny Russell (Week 8)
- 2015: Paulo Nagamura (Week 24), Benny Feilhaber (Week 29) & Tim Melia (Week 31)
- 2014: Graham Zusi (Week 4) & Benny Feilhaber (Week 19)
- 2013: Graham Zusi (Week 10)
- 2011: Omar Bravo (Week 1) & Graham Zusi (Week 23)
- 2009: Josh Wolff (Week 5, Week 9 & Week 25)
- 2008: Claudio Lopez (Week 30)
- 2007: Eddie Johnson (Week 2, Week 8 & Week 9) & Scott Sealy (Week 24 & Week 29)
- 2006: Scott Sealy (Week 12), Davy Arnaud (Week 24), Josh Wolff (Week 27) & Jose Burciaga, Jr. (Week 28)
- 2005: Josh Wolff (Week 7 & Week 20)
- 2004: Davy Arnaud (Week 14)
- 2003: Chris Klein (Week 2 & Week 27), Preki (Week 9 & Week 12) & Igor Simutenkov (Week 15)
- 2002: Chris Klein (Week 4) & Tony Meola (Week 21)
- 2001: Chris Klein (Week 2) & Chris Brown (Week 3)
- 2000: Peter Vermes (Week 10) & Tony Meola (Week 15)
- 1999: Chris Klein (Week 19)
- 1998: Vitalis Takawira (Week 10)
- 1997: Preki (Week 12 & Week 14)
- 1996: Preki (Week 8) & Mark Chung (Week 12)