Sporting KC splits points with Chicago in 1-1 draw

Sporting Kansas City reached the halfway point of the 2014 MLS season on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

In front of the team’s largest crowd of the season and 45th straight MLS sellout, forward Dom Dwyer scored his 12th goal of the season before Mike Magee equalized for Chicago seven minutes later to split the points.

With the draw, Sporting Kansas City sits two points back of D.C. United for first place in the Eastern Conference after 17 of 34 regular season matches. Prior to Sunday’s nationally televised match on ESPN, Sporting Kansas City welcomed back Matt Besler and Graham Zusi following their participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

The visiting Fire nearly took an early lead when Magee intercepted a pass from Kevin Ellis inside Chicago’s attacking third less than 90 seconds into the match. Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg came off his line and stood his ground while Aurelien Collin recovered to clear the shot inside the six-yard box.

Chicago saw another shot cleared in front of the goalline in the 5th minute as Patrick Ianni’s header off a Harrison Shipp corner kick was turned away alertly by Dwyer.

Sporting Kansas City’s first serious foray forward came in the 12th minute as Benny Feilhaber shrugged off a challenge from Logan Pause and picked out Soony Saad in the central channel. Saad struck his shot first time from 22 yards out, forcing Sean Johnson into a low save to his left.

Ten minutes later, Saad collected a poor clearance from Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and fed Dwyer to set up an acrobatic scissors attempt that was saved by Johnson at the near post. Dwyer led all players on Sunday with five shots and three shots on goal.

Magee, a 21-goal scorer in 2013, threatened again in the 31st minute on Sunday. Receiving a ball behind the Sporting KC backline from Homegrown Player Chris Ritter, Magee struck a left-footed shot that deflected off the far post and back into play.

Dwyer then struck for the game’s opening goal on the opposite end of the field, dispossessing Ianni and calmly slotting his shot past Johnson for his 12th goal of the season before capturing a celebratory selfie along with Soony Saad and South Stand supporters. The third-year pro moves into a tie with Erick Torres for the second most goals scored in MLS this season and now ranks third on the club’s all-time single-season goals scored chart.

The lead would be short-lived as Chicago pulled level in the 40th minute through Magee. Fire midfielder Alex forced a turnover to earn the assist and Magee buried his shot from the top of the penalty area for his fifth of the season.

The second half was controlled by Sporting Kansas City, to the tune of an 11-2 edge in shots and 79-21 percent advantage in possession, though neither side could find the coveted game-winning goal. The Fire’s only two shots of the half came in the 57th minute with Dilly Duka’s shot stopped on the goalline by Collin and Shipp sending his shot just wide of the post from 20 yards out.

Graham Zusi, in his first match back from representing the United States at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, entered the match in the 62nd minute and immediately made an effect with a corner kick headed on frame by Dwyer and saved by Johnson.

A little more than 10 minutes later, Zusi switched fields and found Igor Juliao along the right flank. The Brazilian right back played a pass into the path of Jacob Peterson, who fired a first-time shot toward the near post that was pushed over the endline by Johnson.

The Chicago goalkeeper made a season-high eight saves on Sunday, including two in short succession in the first minute of second-half stoppage time to preserve the draw. Johnson dove full extension to his right to deny Peterson’s effort from outside the area and then did just enough to thwart C.J. Sapong from burying the rebound.

Sporting KC will now enter a stretch with three of its next four MLS matches away from home, beginning Saturday at the Montreal Impact.

– Story from Sporting KC

Sporting KC to play rival Chicago at 2 p.m. Sunday in KCK

Sporting Kansas City will play host to Eastern Conference rivals Chicago Fire on Sunday at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.

The match will be nationally televised on ESPN, WatchESPN and ESPN Deportes. Local coverage is on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340 AM.

A limited number of tickets may be available, including standing room only tickets beginning at $20, and can be purchased at or the Sporting Park box offices on game day.

Sporting KC enters the weekend atop the Eastern Conference with 25 points and a regular season record of 7-5-2.

Most recently, Sporting KC defeated the Portland Timbers 1-0 at Providence Park despite only traveling 16 players due to injuries and international competition. Lawrence Olum scored the game-winner in the 24th minute, his first goal of the 2014 season.

The Sporting KC defense secured the club’s seventh clean sheet of the season. Kronberg’s seven shutouts — including two in the month of June for a 242 minute active shutout streak — and 0.88 goals against average are League bests among goalkeepers with minimum of 400 minutes played in MLS this season and yielded MLS Player of the Month honors for the veteran goalkeeper.

Chicago visits Kansas City after a midweek draw with Toronto FC at Toyota Park. The Fire fell behind just before the halftime intermission. A 29th-minute red card shown to Toronto’s Luke Moore gave Chicago a man-advantage for nearly 60 minutes and rookie Harry Shipp was able to notch the equalizer with his team-leading sixth goal of the season. Chicago sits towards the bottom of the MLS standings but has lost only once in its last six matches.

In that six-match stretch, Chicago earned two victories in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play by defeating the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and the Columbus Crew to advance to the quarterfinals of the 101st edition of the tournament.

The Fire will be without Quincy Amarikwa on Sunday as he serves a mandatory one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation. Amarikwa has scored five goals and added three assists for the Fire this season. Sporting KC midfielder Antonio Dovale will also serve the final game of his suspension for a red card received in a 2-0 win at Houston last month.

All ticket holders are encouraged to arrive early on Sunday to welcome back Matt Besler and Graham Zusi as part of a special ceremony prior to the match. Besler and Zusi spent the last seven weeks with the U.S. Men’s National Team for preparation and participation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
– Story from Sporting KC

Soccer All-Star voting continues on Twitter

On Monday, Major League Soccer released the latest results from fan voting for the 2014 MLS All-Star Game in Portland, Oregon.

Seven Sporting KC players are among the leaders at their positions. Captain Matt Besler is the leading vote getter among defenders, while his centerback partner Aurelien Collin is third and left back Seth Sinovic is sixth. Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber are the fourth and sixth-ranked midfielders, and goalkeeper Eric Kronberg ranks third. MLS joint-leading scorer Dom Dwyer is sixth among forwards.

Online voting will continue through July 11. Votes will also be tallied through Twitter starting July 2 and lasting until Sunday, July 6.

An eligible vote consists of the hashtag #MLSAllStar and the player’s full name or twitter handle. Users may only vote for players on the All-Star ballot.

The All-Star Fan XI-one goalkeeper, three defenders, four midfielders and three forwards-will be revealed on July 16.

The 2014 MLS All-Star game is set for Aug. 6 featuring German champions Bayern Munich at Portland’s Providence Park.
– Story from Sporting KC