Zusi’s brace leads Sporting KC past Fire

GrahamZusiKC (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

Sporting Kansas City's hold on the Eastern Conference got even tighter on Friday as the East leaders outplayed their closest competitor in the East to post an impressive victory and extend their lead to five points. 

Graham Zusi scored goals in each half and Sporting KC's defense posted another shutout to earn a 2-0 victory against the Fire at LiveStrong Sporting Park.

Kei Kamara helped open the scoring in the 11th minute when he beat Gonzales Segare with a run down the right flank before delivering a low cross into the box that found a streaking Zusi, who calmly deposited it past Sean Johnson to give KC the early lead.

Sporting KC controlled the rest of the first half, limiting Chicago's chances and dominating possession. The second half was a different story, with the Fire finding more of the ball and testing KC's defense on multiple occasions with dangerous sequences. Unfortunately for the Fire, not enough of those sequences produced actually dangerous chances on Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

The Fire pushed hard late in the match for an equalizer, and saw second-half substitute Guillermo Franco trouble the KC back-line. He went down on a pair of occasions as he went at the Sporting defense, including one play which looked like a clear foul by Matt Besler just 20 yards from goal, but failed to draw a free kick on either occasion. The questionable decisions angered Fire manager Frank Klopas to the point that he earned an ejection for complaining to the fourth official and for leaving his technical area.

The Fire also lost Segares late in the match when he drew a second yellow card for a foul on C.J. Sapong.

Sporting continued to defend well and ultimately sealed the victory in the sixth minute of stoppage time when Zusi deposited an 18-yard shot past Johnson for his second goal of the night.

Here are the match highlights:

 

The victory increased Sporting KC's lead atop the Eastern Conference to five points with three matches remaining. It also moved Sporting KC to within two points of the San Jose Earthquakes in the Supporters Shield race. The Fire is now five points back in second place, but do have a game in hand on Sporting KC.

What did you think of the match? Impressed with Sporting KC's team defending? Is Graham Zusi playing the best soccer in the league right now? Think the referee cost Chicago the match?

Share your thoughts below.

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29 Responses to Zusi’s brace leads Sporting KC past Fire

  1. Dustin says:

    “Think the referee cost Chicago the match?”

    I like this sort of leading question. It’s very good to use in order to instigate arguments and comments and page views.

  2. Sam says:

    With homefield advantage, who in the East can beat SKC at home? It is tough to even get a goal there.

    New York and Chicago have shown they cannot. Maybe if Houston catches fire like last season, but Costly is no longer there for that playoff spark. Columbus has a chance, but they don’t have the playoff experience that their champion side had.

  3. Julio says:

    Definite home-cookin, but I didn’t see a missed PK call or anything like that.

  4. Sticky says:

    …and everyone in Kansas City is now rushing out to find those sub sandwich coupons that that they’ve tucked into their underwear drawers, right next to those items like the ‘marital aids” and confederate dollars that could wait a lifetime or more to actually see any use…

  5. Berkom says:

    More Friday Nighters please….Wednesday games are awful. Just extend the season, MLS.

  6. Mr Weitz says:

    Why does Klopas want to turn Alex in a defensive midfielder? This kid should be attacking since they let go of Grazzini, Pappa, and Robayo. Rolfe is a scorer and should not be pushed into a CAM role.

  7. ER says:

    It seemed like all the 50/50 calls went SKC’s way…This is what atmosphere can do for you.

  8. Jon says:

    Zusi is a boss.

  9. poo says:

    Zusi is developing into quite a player. That first goal, smart run and very difficult finish made to look easy.

  10. PD says:

    In fairness, a lot of the match commentary last night was if that flavor. And if you’re surprised that an editor would assume folks would have a beef with the refs determining the outcome, all I can say is 1. Welcome to soccer, you must be new to the sport, and second-ably 2. Welcome to the MLS, you must be new here.

  11. PD says:

    It’s the hair.

  12. MLSsnob says:

    You must be new here as well, calling it “the” MLS, classic rookie mistake.

  13. Alex says:

    Confederate dollars? Dude we were part of the Union! You’re talking about Missouri.

  14. Mike says:

    Fire weren’t going to beat KC four times this year. Better to lose this game and win in the playoffs. Interesting to see how both react in their games next Wednesday. Does Sporting KC have a letdown in Columbus?

  15. Ryan says:

    Ummm, the Fire beat SKC at home earlier this year. What are you talking about?

  16. NE REVS says:

    I thought LSP only seated 18,467 but the box score says 21,010. That’s 113.77% capacity. Is SKC management getting consulting services from the Red Sox on how to spin your attendance numbers? Where do they put all those extra people? So many questions.

  17. schmitty says:

    Actually, Missouri stayed in the Union too (though many wanted to leave). He’s thinking about Arkansas. Way too easy for a Chicagoan to mix up Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.

  18. Creek says:

    It’s gotta be the hair! It’s beautiful, feathered and lethal, you just don’t see it enough these days.

  19. schmitty says:

    Livestrong has a standing bridge that they sell tickets for once the seats are sold out.

  20. Dustin says:

    You did the Math but you didn’t look up anything? Are you selectively pedantic or something?!

  21. Good atmosphere last night, KC came to play, Chicago came out flat and never recovered. Zusi’s first half goal changed everything for Klopas.

  22. Dimidri says:

    What is this home field advantage you speak of. The fact you get to play the second game in a 2 legged playoff at home? That barely qualifies as homefield advantage seeing as the two-legged tie was created to neutralize home-field advantage.

    If you make it to the final then you have a point.

  23. David H says:

    That was a slumping SKC team. They’re back in form now & playing with an adjusted playing style.

  24. David H says:

    Confederate dollars…? Kansas was a vehement Free-State. There was a pretty important conflict known as Bleeding Kansas that helped keep Kansas’ status as a slave free territory. Kansas has never had any affiliation w/ the Confederates. In fact, they burned some of our cities & killed its men. (Not to say the “Jayhawkers” didn’t strike back, b/c they did).

  25. Brain Guy says:

    Ironic that Klopas was the one who got ejected, because Vermes simply never shuts up. He is worse than the worst basketball coaches in riding the officials. Tell me — is this “normal” in soccer? in MLS? It seems so classically American, but maybe I haven’t paid close enough attention to other leagues.

  26. Shawn says:

    This. LSP has lots of SRO, and the much of it is utilized to add voice to the Cauldron. (As if it needs the help.)

    Of course, for people stuck watching the sport in an NFL stadium, the beauty of a true Soccer-specific stadium, with the best home field advantage in the country, would be lost on him.

  27. Kevmueller says:

    A coach can say talk the whole game. It is what they say and where they say it that matters. There is nothing wrong with talking and questioning the 4th official the whole game to try and get calls. Now going up and putting a finger in to the 4th officials chest will get you ejected 10 out of 10 times.