Beyond The Box Score: Long-range Johnny strikes again in loss to RSL

In an otherwise frustrating night at Children's Mercy Park, Johnny Russell treated Sporting Kansas City fans to a moment of delight in the 31st minute of Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Real Salt Lake.

Seconds after Felipe Gutierrez had drawn a foul just outside the penalty area, Russell stepped up and unleashed a heat-seeking laser that beat RSL's four-man wall and left goalkeeper Nick Rimando no chance.

The exquisite free kick, which gave Sporting a 1-0 lead at the time, was a prompt reminder of the Scottish international's undeniable quality and vaulted Russell alone into first place in one particular MLS category for the season.

With his latest masterpiece from beyond the penalty area, Russell now leads MLS with four goals from outside the box in 2019. He is also one of just two players, alongside D.C. United's Wayne Rooney, to score twice from direct free kicks this season.

One other interesting fact tied to Russell's fine finish? It was Sporting's 250th regular-season goal in Children's Mercy Park history.

As displayed in the table below, exactly half of Russell's eight strikes this season have come from long range. Sit back and enjoy each of them in the space below.

MOST GOALS FROM OUTSIDE THE BOX
2019 MLS REGULAR SEASON

Player Club Goals
Johnny Russell Sporting Kansas City 4
Hassani Dotson Minnesota United FC 3
Aleksandar Katai Chicago Fire 3
Alejandro Pozuelo Toronto FC 3
Wayne Rooney D.C. United 3
Jefferson Savarino Real Salt Lake 3
Vako San Jose Earthquakes 3

No. 1: Russell to the Rescue in Colorado (March 17)

No. 2: One of Seven vs. Montreal (March 30)

No. 3: Hat Trick Hero vs. Seattle (May 26)

No. 4: Free Kick Stunner vs. RSL (Aug. 10)

Now eight points below the Western Conference playoff line, Sporting will continue their late-season push Wednesday when the club visits Eastern Conference outfit Orlando City SC (8-11-6, 30 points) at Exploria Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT with live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City Plus, FOX Sports Midwest Plus, FOX Sports GO, Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Deportes KC 1480 AM.

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