Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell has been voted the Alcatel Major League Soccer Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) for Week 8 of the 2018 MLS season.
Russell delivered a dominant performance in Friday’s 6-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, scoring the eighth MLS hat-trick in Sporting KC history. The 28-year-old also won his team a penalty kick and put four of six shot attempts on frame as Sporting KC set or tied single-game records in goals, margin of victory, shots, shots on target and possession.
Russell fired the hosts ahead in the 10th minute off a cutback pass from Roger Espinoza, sending a brilliant first-time effort off the far post and into the net. The Scot doubled Sporting KC’s advantage just six minutes later, driving into the box from the left channel and striking low past Vancouver goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic. Russell’s rampant first half continued into stoppage time when he drew a foul in the penalty area on Marcel de Jong, but Marinovic saved Ilie’s ensuing spot kick to keep the score 3-0 at intermission.
Three minutes after the restart, Russell secured his hat-trick with a deft finish from a tight angle after receiving a clever through ball from defender Matt Besler. The 48th-minute strike gave Russell the earliest hat-trick in Kansas City history and moved him into a tie for second in MLS with five goals — level with Sporting KC midfielder Felipe Gutierrez.
In addition to sitting second in the early race for MLS Golden Boot, Russell leads the league in penalties won (three) and touches in the opponent’s box (67) while ranking third in shots (29). His seven combined goals (five) and assists (two) are tied for fourth in MLS.
Russell is Sporting KC’s second MLS Player of the Week recipient this season. Goalkeeper Tim Melia earned the honor after making a career-high and club-record 10 saves in a 2-0 victory at the LA Galaxy on April 8.
The Alcatel MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by members of the North American Soccer Reporters. The organization includes print, television, radio and online journalists who cover domestic men’s soccer in the United States and Canada.
Unbeaten in seven matches and five points clear atop the Western Conference standings, Sporting KC will now prepare for Saturday’s road test against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.