Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sporting KC moves into first place in East with 2-1 road win at rivals Chicago Fire

Sporting Kansas City moved into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with a 2-1 road win over the Chicago Fire Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi provided the goals as Sporting KC ran their unbeaten streak to four consecutive games and seven out of their past eight.

The visitors put the home side on the back foot early, tallying two goals in the game's first eight minutes.

Sporting KC opened the scoring in the fifth minute off a long throw-in from Matt Besler. The All-Star center back hit a streaking Kei Kamara who flicked the ball off Fire defender Bakary Soumaré. Feilhaber pounced on the loose ball and fired a rocket past goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi for his first goal of the year.

Sporting KC wasted little time doubling their lead as left back Seth Sinovic intercepted an errant Fire clearance in the eighth minute. The fourth-year defender found Zusi, who curled a ball to the far post. Kamara's presence inside the box caught Tornaghi off his line as Zusi's ball curled  into the corner of the net.

Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen tied a season-high with four saves in the match. His first came in the 10th minute off a laser strike from Chris Rolfe.

The Fire midfielder picked up a headed clearance at the top of Sporting KC's penalty box and unleashed a strike on target. Nielsen reacted quickly to knock the ball over the crossbar and keep the home side off the board.

Rolfe was in the thick of the action again a minute later, finding himself one-on-one with Nielsen in the 17th minute. The former U.S. international found space behind the Sporting KC back line, but Nielsen did well to cut off his angle and force Rolfe's attempt wide of the far post.

Chicago was able to pull one back prior to halftime with Mike Magee tallying his fifth goal in his past six games and League-leading 11th of the season.

Jeff Larentowicz's header freed Magee behind the Sporting KC defense and the wily veteran slotted the ball past Nielsen to cut Sporting KC's lead in half.

The second half featured few quality chances on goal for either side. Sporting KC attempted seven shots, but were unable to test Tornaghi. Kamara and Rosell - who turned 21 on Sunday - each had quality chances in the 58th minute, but Fire defenders deflected both attempts.

Chicago's best opportunity at an equalizer came in the 87th minute. Magee found Joel Lindpere with a throw-in near the Sporting KC touchline. The Estonian international slotted the ball to Dilly Duka, but Nielsen dropped to his left to preserve the Sporting KC win.

Sporting KC will return home this week to take on Toronto FC Saturday night at Sporting Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT on KSMO-TV. Limited tickets are available and can be purchased at or at the Sporting Park box office.