by Brian Turrel
Yohan Croizet scored Sporting Kansas City’s only goal for the second straight game, but this time the defense made it stand up, giving Sporting a 1-0 home win against the Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
Sporting got on the board in the 14th minute when Felipe Gutierrez stole the ball on Kansas City’s end of the field and launched a long, accurate pass forward into the path of Croizet, streaking toward the goal.
Chicago goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm came out to the edge of the penalty area to challenge Croizet, but not quickly enough to prevent him from slotting the ball inside the left post.
“I just tried my chance, and I scored,” said Croizet after the game. “Good for me and good for the team.”
Sporting had several opportunities to build on its lead in the remainder of the game. Daniel Salloi had a shot bounce just wide in the first half, and another narrowly blocked in the second half. Also in the second half, Felipe Gutierrez had a rebound fall at his feet near the edge of the 6-yard box, but hit the goalpost on his attempt.
Besides the result, Sporting found two other bright spots in the game. The first was the return of forward Johnny Russell, back from missing several games with a hamstring injury to come on as a substitute in the 70th minute.
The other bright spot was the play of midfielder Gedion Zelalem, making his first start at Children’s Mercy Park. Zelalem was successful at advancing the ball up the left side and finding Salloi and Gutierrez in open space on the attacking end.
“I started against Salt Lake, and I thought I was just playing it too safe, and that’s not me,” said Zelalem. “I’m a guy that takes risks to play forward. Just learning from that game and me confident in myself. Just going for it.”
Sporting KC will head to Vancouver for their next match on July 13. Their next home game will be on July 20 at 7:30 p.m. against Real Salt Lake.