Graham Zusi keys Sporting Kansas City’s win over Fire
Kansas City, MO, United States (4E Sports) – Graham Zusi scored two goals as the Sporting Kansas City defeated the Chicago Fire at home for first time in five years, 2-0, before a record crowd of 20,010 fans at Livestrong Sporting Park.
It was Kansas City’s first victory this season against Chicago after a pair of one-goal defeats, and first home win against the Fire since the then-Wizards prevailed 3-2 on Aug. 22, 2007.
Sporting extended its season-high unbeaten streak to nine games while Chicago had a four-match winning streak snapped and lost for just the second time in their last nine outings.
Sporting (17-7-7) grabbed three points from the win to get some breathing room atop the East standings ahead of its clash against Columbus Sunday.
The Fire (16-9-5) remained in second place with 53 points, five behind Sporting, but they can immediately bounce back with a win against Philadelphia Wednesday.
The match was physical, with 24 total fouls — 13 by Sporting — and two ejections in second-half stoppage time. Chicago manager Frank Klopas was given a straight red by referee Chris Penso and left back Gonzalo Segares drew his second yellow.
Zusi’s aggressiveness paid off in the 11th minute when he caught Kei Kamara’s pass into the penalty area and buried a goal from the left side past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. That gave Kamara his sixth assist of the year, matching his single-season best in 2010.
Kamara nearly doubled Sporting’s lead in the 36th minute, snapping a header off Zusi’s corner kick but Johnson reacted quickly and saved the attempt from the underside of the crossbar.
The Fire had a single decent attempt in the first 45 minutes but Chris Rolfe’s kick sailed wide.
Six minutes into second-half stoppage time, Zusi applied the finishing touch, firing just inside the right post to seal the win with his fifth goal of the year.
The shutout win also gave Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen his league-leading 14th clean sheet.