Sporting KC defeat Seattle behind Johnny Russel Hat-Trick

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KANSAS CITY, KS - APRIL 14: Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell (7) makes a cut in the first half of an MLS match between the New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City on April 14, 2019 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(May 26, 2019) – It took nearly two months, but Sporting KC finally found itself back in the win column on Sunday, after grinding out a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Sounders at Children’s Mercy Park. A Johnny Russell hat-trick propelled Peter Vermes’ men to their first victory in all competitions since March 30 when Sporting KC dismantled the Montreal Impact 7-1.

Sporting KC defeat Seattle behind Russel hat-trick to snap 9-game winless streak

“We said before the game, it’s been far too long. We haven’t won a game. No other result was going to be good enough today, especially at home,” said Russell after the game, who got things started in the 29th minute after firing a well-placed shot from 20-yards out into Stefan Frei’s bottom left corner.

The Scot doubled Sporting’s lead on the stroke of halftime after weaving through four Sounders players and slotting the ball in the same corner as his first goal.

With Sporting pushing for a third, Seattle silenced the crowd in the 63rd with goal courtesy of Raul Ruidiaz from close range, but Russell put the game to bed five minutes later as he completed his hat-trick with a third goal in Frei’s bottom left corner.

Kelvin Leerdam, who assisted Seattle’s first goal, scored from a corner three minutes later to create a nervy final 20 minutes for the home team, but Sporting eventually shut up shop and clamped down for the 3-2 victory.

Frenchman False Nine

With injuries and international call-ups continuing to plague Sporting KC, french attacking midfielder Yohan Croizet slotted into a false nine role on Sunday with devastating effect. Not only was Croizet involved in both Sporting’s first and third goals, he created plenty of space for both Kelyn Rowe and importantly Russell to cut inside on to his left foot and get shots on goal.

“I think what he did really well was there were moments were he had to play with his back to the goal and he held their guys up and actually held the ball for us,” Vermes said. “There was other times that he came off the line and he can play in-between the lines because of his ability to play as a midfielder.”

Medranda’s return

Sporting KC fans may have waited a long time for a win, but they’ve had to wait even longer to get a glimpse of wing back Jimmy Medranda back in a Sporting shirt. Last appearing on May 20, 2018, due to a knee injury, Medranda replaced Croizet in the 89th minute to a raucous applause.

“My team has always been with me, always supporting me, so that made things easy,” Medranda said.

The Colombian almost capped off a perfect night with a shot reminiscent of his goal against Vancouver just a month before his injury, a scintillating shot from the left corner of the box. On Sunday though, his shot from the same position could only rattle off the near post.

Short recovery time

Sporting next play on Wednesday night against LA Galaxy, with the quick turnaround adding another problem to Vermes’ growing list. Not only did Sporting play on Sunday night, but the Galaxy played on Friday night, defeating Orlando City 1-0.

“To be honest with you I’m not very happy with the fact that we play on a Sunday and the team we play against doesn’t even play on Saturday, but on Friday, the day before,” Vermes said. “They get all those days rest. I think in these situations there has to be a little bit more competitive balance, if you will.”

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