Sporting wins final 2022 home game, beats Sounders 1-0

Forwards Johnny Russell and Willy Agada were all smiles as Agada got up after scoring the game-winning goal in Sporting Kansas City’s 1-0 victory over Seattle, capping a streak of six consecutive home wins. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Sporting Kansas City closed its home schedule on a high note, winning 1-0 over the Seattle Sounders on Sunday afternoon at Children’s Mercy Park and booting the Sounders from playoff contention, the end of an impressive 13-year streak.

Despite Kansas City’s lowly position in the standings, the home team had the better chances all afternoon, forcing Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei to make 10 saves against only one for Sporting’s John Pulskamp.

Forward Willy Agada was responsible for most of the danger up front, taking crosses from Johnny Russell and Daniel Salloi on the wings. In a notable sequence in the 29th minute, Agada headed a cross from Russell on goal and then fired back the rebound. Frei made a diving stab to parry the header and then scrambled into position for a body block on the rebound shot.

Agada broke through in the 42nd minute, picking up a cross from Salloi, taking one touch to settle the ball, and then turning on it to blast it inside the far post.

Sporting kept up the pressure through the late stages of the game, fending off Seattle’s attempts to find an equalizer, and bringing on Felipe Hernandez and Kayden Pierre for fresh legs. Kortne Ford entered in the 77th minute for defensive reinforcement to protect the lead.

Kansas City manager Peter Vermes will have some difficult decisions to make in the off season. Fan favorites Graham Zusi and Roger Espinoza are out of contract and at the tail end of their careers.

After the match, Vermes talked about the team’s great late-season form. “It’s always good to leave a last impression to start the next year,” the veteran coach said. “So the win, the shutout, the way we played, it’s all very important to how we finish here but more importantly, to how we go into next year.”

Also, designated players Alan Pulido and Gadi Kinda will return from missing a season due to injury and expect to find playing time in an offensive corps that found success in their absence.

After the match, Vermes talked about the team’s great late-season form.

“It’s always good to leave a last impression to start the next year,” the veteran coach said. “So the win, the shutout, the way we played, it’s all very important to how we finish here but more importantly, to how we go into next year.”

Sporting Kansas City wraps up the 2022 season next Sunday on the road against FC Dallas.

Forward Johnny Russell headed the ball in front of the Seattle goal. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Willy Agada turned on a cross from Daniel Salloi and hit it inside the far post for a score. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Seattle defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade slid in to disrupt a run from defender Ben Sweat. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Willy Agada headed a shot on goal in the first half. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei came off the line to intercept a run from forward Daniel Salloi. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Forward Daniel Salloi took a shot on goal in the second half. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
After the game, forward Daniel Salloi signed a girl’s cast, then a boy’s shoe, then a shirt, a poster, a hat, an arm and several other items. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

Russell leads Sporting comeback over Houston in U.S. Open Cup

Forward Johnny Russell scored his second goal of the match on a penalty kick in the 73rd minute. Russell’s two goals led Sporting Kansas City to victory over the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup round of 16. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

Sporting Kansas City took another step on the road toward its fifth U.S. Open Cup with a 2-1 win over the Houston Dynamo Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

Kansas City gave up the lead in the first half, but came barreling back in the second thanks to two goals from forward and team captain Johnny Russell.

Despite nagging injuries that have kept him listed as questionable on recent injury reports, Russell was all over the pitch on Wednesday — attacking down the left and right sidelines, dropping low to defend, and taking on some very physical challenges from Dynamo defenders.

Russell’s game-winner came on a 73rd minute penalty kick earned by Daniel Salloi, who was tripped by Houston’s Daniel Steres as he tried to make a run on the Dynamo goal. Russell took a big run-up and slapped his left-footed kick into the lower right corner of the goal.

The Scottish forward tied the score in the 52nd minute after he snared a Houston clearance about 20 yards out. Though he got pushed to the turf by forward Beto Avila, Russell maintained possession, made a turn among three defenders and blasted in his shot from outside the penalty area.

Corey Baird got the Dynamo on the board near the end of the first half, receiving a beautiful through pass down the middle from Darwin Quintero and then outracing Logan Ndenbe and Andreu Fontas to get a shot on goal from 12 yards out.

Kansas City had plenty of chances, using long, diagonal passes to get in behind the Houston defense. Speedsters Ndenbe and Salloi put the right side of the Houston defense under pressure repeatedly, and Sporting outshot the Dynamo 18-7, despite holding only 40 percent of the possession.

After the match, head coach Peter Vermes sang the praises of Russell’s all-out effort.

“He’s the captain,” said the coach. “He’s the leader. That’s why the guys respect him. He wins all the time. He wins in practice, and he brings it to the game week in and week out.”

Kansas City now advances to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, a single elimination tournament that features teams from several professional and amateur soccer leagues.

The opponent will be USL League One team Union Omaha, which defeated Minnesota United FC 2-1 on Wednesday. The match will be played at Children’s Mercy Park on June 22.

Sporting’s next regular season game will be at home on May 28 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. The game will kick off at 8 p.m.

The Cauldron fan section celebrated Johnny Russell’s goal in the 52nd minute. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Daniel Steres’s foul on Daniel Salloi led to the game-winning goal. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


A late challenge from Houston defender Daniel Steres sent defender Logan Ndenbe sprawling. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Houston defender Griffin Dorsey cleared the ball, just out of reach of forward Cam Duke. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Kansas City defenders Kortne Ford, center, and Andreu Fontas leaped for a corner kick as Houston goalkeeper Michael Nelson tried to knock it away. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


A cutback from midfielder Felipe Hernandez had Houston midfielder Brooklyn Raines on his heels. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Defender Kayden Pierre ran along the end line, looking for options in the center. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Forward Khiry Shelton signed a cast for a fan after the game. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

Sporting drops match to Chicago, 3-1

Chicago – Missing six regular starters due to injury, shorthanded Sporting Kansas City (1-3-0, 3 points) suffered a 3-1 loss on Saturday at Soldier Field to the Chicago Fire (2-0-2, 8 points).

Chicago continued its unbeaten start to the 2022 season.

Veteran midfielder Roger Espinoza scored for Sporting Kansas City in the 56th minute, becoming just the 13th player in team history to tally 50 combined regular season goals and assists for the club. In his 13th season, Espinoza now has 11 career regular season goals to go along with 39 regular season assists.

Twenty-one-year-old Sporting KC Academy product Cam Duke earned his first career MLS assist on the goal, combining with fellow homegrown player Felipe Hernandez to set up Espinoza and snap Chicago’s 325-minute shutout streak to open the campaign.

The Fire, coming off a 2-0 win at D.C. United last weekend, continued the club’s strong start to 2022 with a brace from offseason acquisition Kacper Przybylko and a penalty from record signing Xherdan Shaqiri, who also added two assists on the night to go along with the game-winning goal.

Przybylko opened the scoring at the half-hour mark on Saturday with his first goal since joining the team from the Philadelphia Union. The Fire’s first shot of the match found the back of the net as Przbylko’s left-footed strike eluded Tim Melia amidst the wet conditions in the Windy City.

The hosts doubled the lead five minutes into the second half as referee Tim Ford awarded Chicago a penalty as Mauricio Pineda went down inside the area. Shaqiri stepped to the spot and sent Melia the wrong direction to score his first goal in Major League Soccer after an illustrious career in Europe that included Champions League titles with Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

Playing in a 3-5-2 formation without the team’s three designated players – Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell and Gadi Kinda – as well as MLS All-Star Daniel Salloi and center forward Khiry Shelton, Sporting responded with a well-worked goal to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 56th minute.

Making his first start of the year, Duke played a through ball into the path of Hernandez inside the penalty area and Hernandez cut the ball back for a first-time finish from Espinoza. The goal was Espinoza’s first in MLS since the 2020 season and capped off a 19-pass sequence in the buildup.

The Fire sealed its first victory over Sporting since 2016 with a third goal in the 82nd minute coming on a quick transition after forcing a turnover in their attacking half. Przybylko bagged his second of the match and 37th of his MLS career on an assist from 18-year-old Brian Gutierrez.

Sporting KC will return home to play host to rivals Real Salt Lake at 6 p.m. next Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Tickets are available online at and the match will be nationally televised on UniMas and TUDN in addition to 38 The Spot’s local broadcast in Kansas City.

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