Sean Johnson
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Fire Expose Sporting KC 1-0

KANSAS CITY, Kan.  – The Chicago Fire (8-5-3; 27 points) utilized Marco Pappa’s counter-attack goal in the 58th minute and a stand-up performance from Sean Johnson to defeat Sporting Kansas City (9-5-2; 29 points) at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park Friday night in Kansas City, Kan. The smash and grab performance gave the Fire its third straight win against an Eastern Conference opponent.
Battling near 100 degree temperatures both teams looked for possession early. Sporting Kansas City began to apply pressure after the initial 10 minutes and found an early opportunity in the 14th minute. A deflected Graham Zusi shot fell to the feet of Kei Kamara and the Sierra Leon striker sent his effort toward goal, but Sean Johnson angled to get his hand on the ball to parry it away and keep the score level.
The Fire saw its best chance of the first half come just two minutes later as Pappa tracked a ball in the right corner. The playmaking midfielder swung a pin-point cross to Oduro just outside of the six-yard box. Oduro volleyed his one-time effort on frame, but Sporting Kansas City ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen knocked the ball away to preserve the 0-0 score line.
After enduring relentless pressure from the home side the Men in Red found the opportunity to pounce on the counter at the start of the second half. Pinned after a Sporting Kansas City free kick, Dan Gargan intercepted a Kamara cross and played Pappa into space in the middle of the park. Pappa carried the ball forward before playing an onrushing Chris Rolfe on the left side of the box. Rolfe calmly took a touch before finding Pappa wide open in the middle of the box. The Guatemalan international lashed the ball past Nielsen and into the back of the net to give the Fire a 1-0 advantage on 58 minutes.
Sporting Kansas City nearly found the equalizer in the 76th minute when Sporting defender Seth Sinovic drifted into the attacking third before sending a lofted cross to Kamara inside the penalty area. The Sporting forward powered his headed effort on goal only to see a diving Sean Johnson collect the effort to keep the Fire on top.
Trailing by a goal, Sporting continued to push numbers forward in search of the equalizer. In the 92nd minute Kamara found Teal Bunbury at the top of the 18. Showing off a fine piece of skill the U.S. International flicked the ball to himself before turning a firing a shot wide of the far post.
Frank Klopas made a number of substitutions in an effort to kill the game. Alex, playing in his first match in a Fire top did well to evade Sporting defenders and showed his skill-set setting up a Rolfe shot in the 91st minute. In the end, the Fire’s defense held as Johnson tallied five saves and earned his second shutout of the season.  
The Fire return to action on Tuesday, July 3 when they make their first trip to BBVA Compass Stadium to take on the Houston Dynamo at 6:00 p.m. CT live on NBC5.2 and ESPN Deportes 97.5 FM. The Chicago Fire vs. LA Galaxy match Presented by Quaker takes place at Toyota Park on Sunday, July 8 at 2:00 p.m. CT live on ESPN and 97.5 ESPN Deportes.
  • The Fire won three on the trot for the first time since September, 2011 when the Fire defeated Chivas USA (9/17), New England (9/25) and Real Salt Lake (9/28).
  • Marco Pappa’s fifth goal of the season ties him with Dominic Oduro for the team high. Pappa’s strike was the 3rd game winning goal of the season.
  • Sean Johnson notched five saves while facing 27 shots. The Fire ‘keeper earned his second shutout of the season.
  • In his first match as a starter since the 2009 Eastern Conference Final, Rolfe tallied an assist while going 90 minutes.
  • German defender Arne Friedrich returned to the Staring XI, playing 79 minutes before leaving the match with cramps. 
  • The Fire were without defender Gonzalo Segares who was serving a one-game suspension for a red card June 23 against Columbus.
  • Sporting Kansas City has not defeated the Fire in Kansas City since 2007.
  • Paolo Tornaghi and Federico Puppo missed the match with right ankle sprains. Sebastian Grazzini remained in Chicago after sitting out full-team training Tuesday-Thursday.
Chicago Fire 1 – 0 Sporting KC
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich (Hunter Jumper, 79’), Austin Berry, Dan Gargan; Logan Pause ©, Pavel Pardo; Patrick Nyarko (Rafael Robayo, 82’), Chris Rolfe, Marco Pappa (Alex, 64’); Dominic Oduro
Substitutes not used: Jay Nolly, Daniel Paladini, Corben Bone, Orr Barouch
Sporting KC: Jimmy Nielsen ©; Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Lawrence Olum (Matt Besler, 19’), Seth Sinovic; Julio Cesar (Peterson Joseph, 82’), Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza; Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, C.J. Sapong (Soony Saad, 72’)
Substitutes not used: Eric Kronberg, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington, Peterson Joseph, Jaco Peterson, Soony Saad, Michael Thomas
Scoring Summary
CHI – Marco Pappa (Chris Rolfe) 58’
Misconduct Summary
CHI – Jalil Anibaba (caution) 33’
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry, Adam Garner
Fourth Official: Leszek Stalmach
Attendance: 19,274