Sporting KC Strikes Twice Late to Claim Thrilling Victory over Chicago Fire
Jimmy Medranda equalizes in the 83rd minute to kickstart comeback; Felipe Gutierrez scores the winner in the 86th minute for his second goal of the night; Johnny Russell records his first MLS goal for Sporting KC.
SKC scores four goals in a regular season game for first time since 2015
In the second match of the season, Sporting Kansas City struck twice in final 10 minutes to earn a remarkable 4-3 victory over the Chicago Fire in a thrilling encounter while away at the Toyota Park.
Midfielder Felipe Gutierrez bagged his second goal of the game in the 86th minute to complete the comeback after Jimmy Medranda had pulled Sporting KC (1-1-0, 3 points) level three minutes earlier.
First-half strikes from Gutierrez and fellow newcomer Johnny Russell had given the visitors a two-goal advantage going into halftime, but the Fire (0-1-0, 0 points) responded with a furious rally of their own, tallying three goals in the space of 12 second-half minutes before relinquishing their lead.
Sporting KC Manager / Head Coach Peter Vermes changed his starting lineup from last Sunday’s disappointing season-opening loss to New York City FC. Veteran left back Seth Sinovic replaced Cristian Lobato, winger Daniel Salloi stepped in for Yohan Croizet, and center forward Diego Rubio made way for Sporting KC debutant Khiry Shelton.
Captain Matt Besler logged 20,000 regular-season minutes for his club.
This is a significant milestone and Besler is the third player in Kansas City history to log this accomplishment.
The Sporting KC Action:
The 83rd-minute equalizer set the stage for a pulsating final chapter in a terrific battle between the regional rivals. Newcomer Russell proved to be the catalyst for the match winner, beating multiple defenders on a lung-busting, 50-yard run into the box before squaring to Salloi near the penalty spot.
The homegrown forward took a composed touch and back-heeled the ball to Gerso Fernandes, who let it run through his legs and roll to Gutierrez for a one-time piledriver past Sanchez.
The stunning goal ignited wild celebrations among Sporting KC’s 350 traveling supporters and was ultimately enough to seal all three points on a frigid evening in Bridgeview.
What Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Manager Said:
“We had a really, really good first half,” said Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City Manager. “We knew they were going to come out in the second half and we talked about it, being at home. I’m not happy with the goals we gave up but I am happy with this early in the season having the kind of spirit that we had to not just really drop our heads and close up shop and go out of here with a loss.”
“The fact that we got the tying goal and we still had the mentality to go get the winner, those are massive three points. This isn’t an easy place to play and they were massive three points for us,” said Vermes.
This win against Chicago was a boost after last week’s home opener in front of a packed house — which ended in a loss.
“I’ll be honest with you. New York was better than us,” said Vermes. “They were a better team at this point in the season. The hardest thing about this league is, obviously it’s long and you also want to try to peak at the right time. It was a good lesson for us last week. Getting three points on the road is always a good thing.”
Vermes on tinkering with his lineup
“Sure, we have quite a few new guys. I’m really happy with some of the performances from the new guys today. We still have to be better in certain situations but again we have time and we have to work on that. Our whole thing is about getting better as we go instead of being the other way. You know, like when you getting bad as the season goes on.”
Veljko Paunovic, Chicago Fire Head Coach said “I think that we, especially in the first half, saw that we weren’t ready to compete with the team that had the advantage that they had: playing competitive games before us. That was the main difference in the first half. But adjustments in the second half were tremendous and I think showing that we can score three goals that quickly and create even more opportunities was the positive.”
“Obviously, disappointed with the final outcome of the huge effort we had in the second half but what we learned today is that we have to get better on every side of the game and in every aspect of the game,” said Paunovic.” We are not there. We didn’t have a good game, I think. Overall, a lot of innocent and naive mistakes that led us to drop, not only a point, but three points. So we got to get better. And also, of course, I think on the other side, I want to congrats to our opponent. They had a great game especially in the first half.”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sporting Kansas City/Olivia Brestal