BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Two fouls may have changed everything for Sporting Kansas City in their 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire on Saturday.
Leading 1-0 in the 60th minute, Sporting Kansas City defender Aurelian Collin took down Dominic Oduro in the penalty box, and Fire midfielder Sebastian Grazzini buried the ensuing penalty kick.
Just a minute later, Roger Espinoza was red-carded after his elbow found Grazzini’s face. Up a man, the Fire were able to continue the comeback, capping it off in the 81st minute with game-winner from Dominic Oduro.
For most of the first half, things were going SKC’s way.
In the 20th minute, a long ball skimmed off of Fire center back Arne Friedrich’s head and fell right to the feet of Kei Kamara, who forced a fingertip save out of Sean Johnson.
Nine minutes later, the German picked up a hamstring injury that forced him out of the match in favor of Dan Gargan. The reconfigured backline got off to a rough start, however, as Bobby Convey opened his 2012 scoring account in the 31st minute off a feed from Espinoza.
Espinoza almost found the back of the net himself in the 43rd minute, but Sean Johnson was able to do just enough to push his 20-yard volley onto the crossbar.
The Fire didn’t force a save out of Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen until the first minute of the second half.
In a span of two minutes, Sporting Kansas City’s fortune changed with Grazzini’s penalty kick goal and Espinoza’s red card.
The ten-man Kansas City squad were able to hold the Fire until the 81st minute, when Patrick Nyarko picked Kei Kamara's pocket just outside the six-yard box on the end line. Nyarko bundled the ball into the path of an onrushing Oduro, and the Ghanaian forward was able to slot home the shot from six yards out.
And though their offense had been effective most of the game, Sporting were unable to come up with an answer to Oduro's goal. The Eastern Conference leaders have now lost three straight matches after winning their first seven of the season. Kansas City play their next match on the road against the Colorado Rapids.
The Fire concluded a tough eight days with eight points from three games, four coming against against the conference leaders, Real Salt Lake and Kansas City. Their next stop is Portland in a Sunday matchup against the Timbers.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Sebastian Grazzini||Scored the equalizer. Drew a red card on arguably Sporting's best player to that point. Sounds like a decent night.|
|2||Dominic Oduro||Not terribly consistent, but drew a vital foul for the PK and got the goal that mattered most: the game-winner|
|3||Bobby Convey||Seems to be Sporting's last man standing after the wheels came off in the second half, but he did well to finish on the first goal.|