Sporting KC vs. Chicago Fire: Sporting hold on in back and forth match

Sporting KC vs. Chicago Fire
Kansas City- July 29th, 2017. Daniel Salloi celebrates his goal in front of the home fans. MANDATORY CREDIT: Henry Hauck, Last Word on Soccer

Kansas City, KS (July 29, 2017)- Sporting KC entered uncharted territory for the first time in a while. For the first time since 2013, Sporting KC entered the match without their prolific, bulldog of a striker in Dom Dwyer on their roster. They took on a star studded and much improved Chicago Fire squad as their first big test “post-Dwyer.” They passed with flying colors.

Sporting KC vs. Chicago Fire: Sporting hold on in back and forth match

Coming into the match, Chicago fire were second place in the Eastern Conference, and held more points than Sporting KC. Both those things held true, despite the 3-2 win for Sporting.

The match started off a little bit cagey. Both teams were trying to feel each-other out for the first 15 minutes or so. Sporting eventually came out and started to take hold of the match. They had two or three successive chances before Chicago really stepped up some numbers into their attacking half.

That proved costly though, as a bad back-pass was taken hold of by Daniel Salloi, who put on the burners and cruised pass Bastian Schweinsteger, waltzing into the 18 yard box. He did will to create enough space to get a shot away. The shot seemed to knick off the heel of the Chicago defender, up and over Matt Lampson, giving Sporting a deserved 1-0 lead.

But then it all went wrong for Sporting. A half-hearted cross was sent into the area, and Matt Besler headed it right into his own net. Chicago had equalized and not even put a shot attempt up, much less an attempt on goal. That seemed to wake up Chicago for the next 10 minutes or so. But right on the stroke of halftime, Sporting regained their lead.

Graham Zusi did extremely well to get up and around the Matt Polster. As he slid to keep from putting the ball over the end-line, he sent in a quick ball to Latif Blessing at the near post. Blessing’s flick header was initially blocked by Lampson, but the ball went straight up. Benny Feilhaber was sitting right on the doorstep with an empty-net, but he seemed to over-run the ball. No worries though as he pulled off a bicycle-kick from within a few yards of the net. After the game Feilhaber jokingly said, “I almost got my foot caught in the net.”

Sporting KC would take that 2-1 lead into halftime, and probably should’ve been up 2-0. They came out raring to go after halftime, and made it 3-1 relatively quick after the restart. In the 51st minute, Diego Rubio sent a squirming shot headed wide of the backpost. As Latif Blessing seemed to be jumping out of the way of the shot, the ball took a glance off his back heel and hit the bottom corner of the net.

David Accam would get one back on a brilliant cross from Patrick Doody, the Fire’s backup left back. That left for a nervy final 15 minutes or so. Nemanja Nikolic came incredibly close to equalizing, but Tim Melia made an incredible sprawling save in the top corner to keep it 3-2. That would be Chicago’s last chance to get an equalizer, and the match ended 3-2 to Sporting KC.

Sporting KC will next take on Atlanta United FC at home, on Sunday August 6th. The Chicago Fire are headed back home for their August 5th matchup against the New England Revolution.