Sporting KC ties Galaxy, clinches 8th straight playoff berth

Forward Johnny Russell (7) celebrated after scoring the game-tying goal in the 83rd minute. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Johnny Russell’s late, rain-soaked equalizer helped Sporting Kansas City crawl into the MLS playoffs, as they tied the LA Galaxy 1-1 at Children’s Mercy Park on Friday night.

Russell zigzagged his way past two Galaxy defenders to take the decisive shot in the 83rd minute of the game.

The Galaxy took the lead midway through the first half when defender Matt Besler was called for tripping Galaxy forward Ola Kamara as he attacked the goal. Zlatan Ibramovic took the penalty shot, which he knocked into the left corner past goalkeeper Tim Melia, who had committed to the other direction.

Sporting KC controlled the ball 60 percent of the time, and made 34 shot attempts to only 8 by Los Angeles. Sporting had several opportunities where a goal looked inevitable, but came away with near misses or one of Galaxy goalkeeper David Bingham’s 8 saves.

In his post-game press conference, head coach Peter Vermes called out the poor officiating by referee Jair Marrufo as well as replay officials. Two calls particularly drew his wrath because they directly affected the scoring.

In the tripping penalty against Besler, it did not appear that he made contact with Kamara. Also, late in the game, Bingham clocked KC forward Diego Rubio in the head as both went up for a cross. Although contact to the head is a foul, no penalty was awarded to Kansas City in that situation.

A win would have helped Sporting’s cause in the MLS Western Conference playoff chase. Even though they’re now assured of a place, SKC remains in a close race with FC Dallas and Los Angeles FC for a first-round bye and home field advantage in their playoff matches.

Sporting KC will play next at the Vancouver Whitecaps on Oct. 17. They’ll be back in Kansas City to play LAFC on Oct. 28, the last game of the regular season.

Defender Ike Opara (3) went up for a corner kick against Galaxy defender Sheahon Williams (29). (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Daniel Salloi’s shot hooked right and hit off the post. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Rain splashed off the big bass drum in the Cauldron fan section. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Ola Kamara (11) tried to slow down Johnny Russell. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Diego Rubio rubbed his head while watching a replay of himself getting hit in the head. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Ilie Sanchez (6) held off Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget (17) across the middle. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Diego Rubio played the ball in front of the Galaxy goal. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Defender Seth Sinovic (15) collected the ball on the left side before centering it. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)
Midfielder Felipe Gutierrez (21) took a shot in the first half. (Photo copyright 2018 by Brian Turrel)

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