Kansas City, Mo. (Sept. 28, 2012) – The Chicago Fire (16-9-5; 53 points) had opportunities on the road but saw its four-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of two Graham Zusi goals as Sporting KC (17-7-7; 58 points) prevailed 2-0 in front of a record crowd of 21,010 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Friday night. The Men in Red currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference with 53 points and a game in hand.
The Fire nearly got on the board in the opening minutes when Sherjill MacDonald found Chris Rofle open at the top of the 18. The Fire leading scorer would smash a driven ball just wide of the near post and out of play in the 6th minute.
But it was Sporting Kansas City who played the aggressor early and the home side was rewarded in the 11th minute when Kei Kamara beat Gonzalo Segares into space on the right side. The Sierra Leon forward dribbled into space and played a low driven cross across the penalty area finding Graham Zusi who directed the ball past Sean Johnson into the corner of the net to give the home side a 1-0 advantage.
An acrobatic Sean Johnson save kept the Fire within striking distance in the 36th minute. Zusi looked to return to favor, picking out Kamara at the back post. Kamara placed his header toward the top left corner where Johnson dove to parry the ball up and off the underside of the crossbar.
The Fire came out of the break looking to create opportunities to find the equalizing goal. The Fire slowly broke down Sporting KC’s pressure and eventually found space on the counter in the 73rd minute. Second half substitute Dominic Oduro led the break and slipped a ball to MacDonald with room at the edge of the box. The Dutch striker put his shot on frame only to have it deflected out of play by Sporting ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
Frank Klopas used all three subs to push the game for the visitors. Two-time Mexican World Cup veteran Guille Franco made his Fire debut in the 71st minute. In his first action since May, Franco showed his skill in the late moments of the match. In the 87th minute, the Fire forward beat a KC defender in the box to earn a corner kick. In the 90th minute, Franco combined with Arne Friedrich before having his feet cut out from him as he rushed in on goal, but no foul was whistled.
Sporting Kansas City iced the game and became the first Eastern Conference side to clinch a 2012 MLS Cup Playoff berth when Zusi bookended his night with his second tally. Moments after Fire defender Gonzalo Segares had been issued his walking papers for a second yellow on a foul on Sapong in front of the Sporting bench, the home side found space on the counter attack. Sapong would eventually lay off to Zusi and the U.S. international slotted home the ball to give Sporting a 2-0 lead and first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Men in Red return home to Toyota Park to celebrate the club’s 15th Anniversary against the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. CT (NBC5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes). Fire legends Chris Armas, Peter Nowak and Cuauhtémoc Blanco will be in attendance to help commemorate the club’s founding. Advance tickets are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire, by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com or Ticketmaster.
- The Men in Red allowed more than one goal for only the second time in 11 matches.
- The Fire finish the month of September 4-1-0.
- With the loss, the Fire move to 11-4-2 with 35 points since June 17, 2012.
- The Fire lost in Kansas City for the first time since 2007.
- Fire head coach Frank Klopas was dismissed from the match and will miss the Oct. 3 fixture at Toyota Park.
- Fire defender Gonzalo Segares, who was booked twice by referee Chris Penso, will miss the Oct. 3 match as well.
Chicago Fire 0 – 2 Sporting Kansas City
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares; Alvaro Fernandez, Logan Pause © (Daniel Paladini, 80’), Alex (Dominic Oduro, 61’), Patrick Nyarko (Guille Franco 71’); Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Dan Gargan, Corben Bone, Wells Thompson
Sporting KC: Jimmy Nielsen ©; Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Lawrence Olum, Seth Sinovic; Paolo Nagamura, Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza; Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong, Kei Kamara
Substitutes not used: Eric Kronberg, Michael Harrington, Aurelien Collin, Oriol Rosell, Peterson Joseph, Soony Saad, Dom Dwyer
SKC – Graham Zusi (Kei Kamara) 11’
SKC – Graham Zusi (C.J. Sapong, Chance Meyers) 96’
CHI - Arne Friedrich (caution) 23’
SKC – Paolo Nagamura (caution) 70’
CHI – Gonzalo Segares (caution) 72’
CHI – Gonzalo Segares (caution; ejection) 94’
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistants: Chris Strickland, Eric Proctor
Fourth Official: Ted Unkel