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Johnny Russell Scores Twice in 3-2 Loss

September 19, 2020 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Sporting Kansas City News Release

Sporting Kansas City (6-4-2, 20 points) dropped a 3-2 decision against FC Dallas (5-2-4, 19 points) on Saturday afternoon at Children's Mercy Park. Johnny Russell scored twice in the second half to rally Sporting Kansas City from a 2-0 deficit after Franco Jara scored three minutes before and three minutes after halftime, however Ryan Hollingshead sealed the visitors' third straight victory with an 86th minute game-winner.

After a 1-0 win over Minnesota United FC last weekend, Peter Vermes had the luxury of starting an unchanged lineup on Saturday for the first time since Sporting's home opener on March 7 while still missing the likes of World Cup veterans Alan Pulido, Felipe Gutierrez and Roger Espinoza due to injury.

Playing the team's 200th contest at Children's Mercy Park, the milestone match delivered from the opening kick off with frantic first 30 minutes of action. Russell attempted his first of seven shots - one shy of the eight he recorded in the previous meeting with FC Dallas on Sept. 2 -- in the game's second minute, forcing an early save from Jimmy Maurer.

On the opposite end, Tim Melia was called into action two minutes later to put an end to a dangerous FC Dallas counter and deny Fabrice Jean-Picault.

Sporting nearly took the lead in the 10th minute when Gerso's deflected effort floated past Maurer only to strike the far post. Two minutes later, Maurer raced off his line but failed to beat Khiry Shelton to the ball however referee Alex Chilowicz awarded a goal kick rather than a penalty following the collision in the penalty area. VAR Allen Chapman checked the play, but did not recommend a review.

Melia, who had already logged back-to-back saves in the 13th and 16th minutes, did well to keep out Jara's half volley in the 28th minute. After facing no shots on goal a week ago, and only five total shots when SKC last faced Dallas on Sept. 2, Melia made his fifth save of the first half in the 32nd minute on Saturday - matching the club-high for a goalkeeper during the first half of an MLS regular season match during the Opta era (2010-present).

Sporting Kansas City continued to create chances, as well, including a high-quality attack in the 29th minute. Shelton nodded down Luis Martins' cross from the left flank for Gerso, unmarked at the top of the six-yard box, however his first-time strike was off frame.

Instead, it was FC Dallas that opened the scoring on the cusp of halftime in the 42nd minute. After scoring in each of his team's last two matches, Jara latched onto the end of a cross from John Nelson and headed home his third goal in eight days. The Argentine's three-game goal scoring streak is the longest active streak in MLS and matches the longest such streak of the season in MLS.

Jara picked up right where he left off after the halftime intermission, pouncing on a loose ball in the box after an FC Dallas corner kick to grab his second goal of the day and fifth of the season in the 48th minute.

Sporting KC responded nearly immediately, capitalizing of a corner of their own. Gianluca Busio's service found its way to Russell near the penalty spot and the Scottish international fired it home off the inside of the post with his left foot to pull Sporting back within a single goal. The goal also extended Sporting's scoring streak and, with goals in all 12 regular season games in 2020, matched the club record for most consecutive games with a goal to start a season.

After Tim Melia produced his best stop of the match to thwart Michael Barrios with a kick save in the 75th minute, Russell and Busio would team up again on a set piece to level the match. Busio, an 18-year-old Sporting KC Academy product, zipped a well-struck service from the left edge of the penalty area into the box and onto the head of Russell for his team-leading fifth goal of the year.

The momentum generated by the two-goal comeback would prove to be short-lived, as FC Dallas secured the three points just three minutes later. Barrios intercepted an under-hit back pass intended for Melia, who momentarily came to the rescue with a superb sliding challenge only to see the ball fall to Hollingshead for a first-time finish and his first goal since August of 2019.

FC Dallas was reduced to 10 men in the 90th minute as second-half substitute Bryan Acosta received his second caution of the game -- on a day the team received five of their seven yellow cards for time wasting -- but held on for the road result and improved to 3-0-1 in their last four trips to Kansas City.

Sporting KC will next conclude a three-game homestand at 6:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday against MLS is Back Tournament finalist Orlando City SC as Sporting faces its first opponent from the Eastern Conference in the 2020 MLS regular season. Tickets are available online at SeatGeek.com and the mid-week match will feature national coverage on FS1 (English), FOX Deportes (Spanish) and the FOX Sports App.

QUOTES

Referee Alex Chilowicz (via MLS Pool Reporter)

On the decision not to award a foul in the first half collision between Khiry Shelton and Jimmy Maurer...

In the opinion of the referee, the goalkeeper of FCD had established his position well before Khiry Shelton knocked the long ball past him. The goalkeeper made no movement to interfere with Shelton, who then collided with the keeper in what the referee deemed to be a coming together of two players without foul play.

On if the contact by Matt Hedges to put Khiry Shelton off balance factored into the decision...

Any contact from Hedges was deemed, in the opinion of the referee, to be slight and did not reach the threshold for being penalized as foul play.

On the decision not to award a foul in the second half on the challenge on Matt Besler prior to FC Dallas' third goal...

There was no foul in the attacking phase of play before the third FCD goal.

Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes

Thoughts on FC Dallas' strong start...

I thought we were fine. At a point in the first half, we lost the ball in situations one after another on defensive plays and on the first goal where we didn't defend the box which put us in a tough situation. I will say that the guys came out and I think, for most of the game, we were good with the ball. I would say we didn't give a lot away, but unfortunately, what we gave away was because of mistakes on our part. Giving the ball away in easy spots is what I think two of the goals came off of - really easy spots. They did a good job to finish those chances.

On the game flow in the second half...

The simplest way for me to address that is this: If you want people to watch the games in this league, whether it be live or on television, fans don't want to see those types of antics in a game. If we're puzzled at times why people don't come to watch you play or why they don't watch you play on TV, you look at those antics and people don't want to see them. I'm involved in this game and I have been since I was born, and I don't want to see those things so I don't understand why the fan would want to see those types of antics in any game. I think it's disrespectful to the sport, I think it's disrespectful to the league, I think it's disrespectful to everyone who is involved in Major League Soccer, whether that be fans, owners, staff or players. Those things don't belong in our game. That is not what I would want to see, and I would think most people wouldn't want to see. The referee has got to manage that. I think at times he was really good, and I think referees have the easiest job in the world to manage behavior on the field. They have the chance with cards, with that whistle, to shape the game. When players are making a mockery of it, it should be taken care of by the referee crew. Unfortunately, at times during today's game it wasn't. I think in certain situations he did very well. There are things Alex (Chilowicz) does very well in the game, but I just don't think those things should be allowed.

On the return of Ilie Sanchez...

We made a tactical change for the second half and I think all those guys did a good job. The other thing too is when you get on the field, you have to secure a result and unfortunately, we didn't get that tonight.

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia

Thoughts on the match...

We're a team. We're going to thrive together. We're going to fail together. One of my main goals when I come into every season is not losing at home. With our fan support and our style of play, it shouldn't happen. Saying all that, I think we played well tonight. We just made silly mistakes. The last two games, we've really started to build into a positive direction - getting back to who we are and getting teams pinned back where we're just shifting the ball back and forth. We're creating opportunities. I think if we have a little better execution in front of goal and limit the silly mistakes, it's a different game tonight. I know that's not what people want to hear right now, but I actually think we played pretty well and we just need to use this to build off of and not let it affect our psyche at all.

On teammates making mistakes...

It's a mistake. We made mistakes all over the field and when you're getting into positions where you're closer to goal, those mistakes carry more weight. For a player that doesn't make a lot of mistakes-it's just an under-hit ball-we know and he knows how good he is and no one is concerned about it. We just get past it. It's going to happen.

On having consistency on the backline...

I'm a big believer that there needs to be consistency in the back six: goalkeeper, defensive midfielder and backline. I think it's important and it's something that we've done in the past which has worked. Obviously with the games congested as they are, there are going to be changes. Having games this close together: guys get tired and legs get tired, so there will be changes. I like when there are consistent lineups because we just get more comfortable with one another, we gel quicker, we know where the other person's going to be which will lead to better results.

Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell

On Dallas' physicality...

I didn't think they were more physical. I think it was a physical game. I wouldn't say they were unfairly physical. We know they're a physical team. We knew who we were playing when they came in here, but I wouldn't say there were any bad or nasty challenges. Maybe in certain areas there were. They're a bigger team so maybe (they were) a little more physical at times but it didn't feel bad during the game.

On the failing to beat Dallas in two tries at home...

There are so many words I could use. I just can't say them on camera. To pick up one point at home against a team that I feel we've dominated twice-credit to them though, they've defended well, they've taken their chances when they've had them. Throughout both games, maybe a bit in the first half, we were a little bit off it. To play the way we play both games, dominate them both games, the shots we had, the chances we created, to come up with only one point is not good enough from our point of view and our standards. With what we're trying to do, we can't drop points like that.

On Khiry Shelton being taken down in the penalty area...

There's no justification that you can ever give me that that is not a penalty. I genuinely don't understand how that isn't a foul. Khiry is going on the ball brilliantly, he's fighting off the defender who's pulling him as well, he then gets there first, knocks the ball past the goalkeeper and the goalkeeper cleans him out. The answer I was given was, "How was the goalkeeper more at fault than Khiry?" Well, because Khiry gets there first, knocks the ball around him and the goalkeeper wipes him out. You tell me anywhere, any league where that isn't a penalty and I'll show you a liar.

On Gianluca Busio's assist on his second goal...

That area is really difficult to get it up and over, even floating it up to the back post is a really difficult ball. Busio strikes it great and any touch from us, Dallas players, or even if it misses everyone, is on target. With that power, it can always go in. We just managed to bunch up at the front post and he whipped it straight on my head and I just got a little touch on it, a little glance. The power is already there, I just tried to direct it.

On FC Dallas' time-wasting tactics...

It happened so many times. I'm not making excuses, we shouldn't have conceded the goals we conceded. That's not why we lost the game. It's frustrating when you're a team who want to keep the ball moving and wants to play at tempo-and it happens so many times and it goes unpunished. I know they started punishing them at the end, but the free kick right at the end, I think it's Thiago [Santos], that's not even time wasting, that's just complete disrespect. With how many times they kicked the ball (away), it's just silly little things like that that just break up the rhythm in a game. Like I said, I'm not making excuses. That's not why we lost the game. We lost the game because the chances we let them create and we didn't stop that. We all manipulate the clock. We all do it, but certain teams do it to a whole new level and it goes unpunished.

FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez

General thoughts on the win...

We just talked with the boys, very proud of the group to defend each other and protect each other. You saw the emotions and the passion there. It was heated but that's part of football sometimes and you can have all the tactics you want, but the energy you put out there and response and sacrificing for each other is just as important. I felt that from the group and I'm really proud of them. We were hungry to get a third in a row to continue the momentum. Credit to Kansas City who always make it difficult here, pushing the game and turning around a 2-0 lead to a 2-2. But our guys didn't give up and we believed that we could still push the game. We were able to expose them with space in behind and a great play and run from Mikey (Barrios) and a great support by Ryan (Hollingshead) to score the winner. They're two players that came off the bench and that shows you that we're a team that can start with warriors and end with warriors, so I'm proud of them. Now we have to patch the wounds quickly and regenerate and be ready for another game in three days. That's the type of schedule we have right now and we need the whole team to do that.

On the goalkeeper situation...

Well Kyle (Zobeck) picked up an injury to his quad the last game, so he wasn't cleared medically to be here. And Jimmy (Maurer) was injured here two and a half weeks ago and Kyle came in to do a noble job for Jimmy and now Jimmy does a noble job for Kyle tonight. And that's what we're always ready to do with our roster. So I'm proud of all our goalkeepers and our goalkeeping coach Drew (Keeshan) to manage that.

On the tactical shift to five players at the back...

We did it around the 74th minute or so, so slightly earlier than normal but we felt there were some overloads wide that we felt we had to handle and take care of. At the end of the day, they didn't score in the run of play, they scored on two set pieces. So I thought tactically we made some good adjustments. It's never going to be perfect but it ended up going our way because of the energy and belief the players had; no matter the formation.

FC Dallas forward Franco Jara

On what Luchi is demanding from him...

My idea when I first arrived was to adapt to the team's play style, but Luchi told me to relax and do what I already know but defend a little more than the normal. Step by step we are working on that and it's all about the team efforts, as well, to make it all work.

On the rotation of the front three...

Whoever comes in starting on the wings, we try and do our job. Every player has their own characteristics and traits. But I am a nine and I have to adapt to each and every one of them. I am starting to get a better understanding of Mikey (Barrios), Fafa (Picault), Santi (Mosquera) , and Andres Ricaurte. They are all players that bring a lot to the team. Like I said, it's about the whole team being on the same page to be more dynamic and having more chances at goal. The most important thing after getting three points is earning that confidence to keep on going forward.

FC Dallas midfielder Ryan Hollingshead

On playing as a winger today...

I came on as a winger today, we tried to put a lot of pressure and counter attack them as much as possible. Mikey (Barrios) was up high and I was on one side. On that goal it was a give away by them, Mikey was on goal and I was trying to get ready for any rebounds. As I saw him cut out against the goalie I saw the ball pop out to me and it was a classic Hollingshead goal. Feels good to get the first one for sure.

On coming on from the bench...

Vocally trying to keep that energy high. There was a different role for me today coming off the bench. I wasn't coming expecting to play, but when my name was called I was ready to come in and lift the spirits and keep that energy high. I wanted to make sure to these guys we have 20 minutes left to close the game out and let's get out of here with three points. No better feeling than taking three points on the road against Sporting Kansas City.

Sporting Kansas City is owned by Sporting Club, an entity founded by a group of local business and community leaders comprised of the Patterson Family, Cliff Illig, Pat Curran, Greg Maday and Robb Heineman. Sporting prides itself on a commitment and vision to provide high-performance experiences. Sporting Club purchased the team from the Hunt Sports Group in 2006, and under its direction has opened Swope Soccer Village, Children's Mercy Park, Compass Minerals Sporting Fields and Compass Minerals National Performance Center while investing in the Sporting KC Academy and Sporting Kansas City II for developing local youth into homegrown talent. A charter member of Major League Soccer, Sporting are two-time MLS Cup champions (2000, 2013) and four-time winners of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2004, 2012, 2015, 2017).

2020 MLS Regular Season

Match 12 of 23

Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas

Weather: 72 degrees and sunny

Score 1 2 F

Sporting Kansas City (6-4-2, 20 points) 0 2 2

FC Dallas (5-2-4, 19 points) 1 2 3

Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Graham Zusi, Roberto Puncec, Matt Besler (C), Luis Martins (Amadou Dia 48'); Gianluca Busio, Felipe Hernandez, Gadi Kinda; Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton, Gerso Fernandes (Ilie Sanchez 46')

Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Andreu Fontas, Jaylin Lindsey, Graham Smith, Cam Duke, Wan Kuzain, Erik Hurtado

FC Dallas: Jimmy Maurer; John Nelson, Reto Ziegler, Matt Hedges, Bryan Reynolds; Tanner Tessmann, Thiago Santos, Santiago Mosquera (Michael Barrios 56'), Brandon Servania (Bryan Acosta 56'), Fabrice Jean-Picault (Ryan Hollingshead 65'); Franco Jara (Bressan 73')

Subs Not Used: Phelipe, Jesus Ferreira, Dante Sealy, Ricardo Pepi, Ricaurte Velez

Scoring Summary:

DAL - Franco Jara 4 (John Nelson 1) 42'

DAL - Franco Jara 5 (unassisted) 48'

SKC - Johnny Russell 4 (unassisted) 53'

SKC - Johnny Russell 5 (Gianluca Busio 1) 83'

DAL - Ryan Hollingshead 1 (unassisted) 86'

Misconduct Summary:

SKC - Gianluca Busio (caution; unsporting behavior) 11'

DAL - Franco Jara (caution; delaying a restart) 73'

DAL - Michael Barrios (caution; delaying a restart) 75'

DAL - Bryan Acosta (caution; delaying a restart) 75'

DAL - Technical Staff (caution; dissent) 75'

SKC - Johnny Russell (caution; unsporting behavior) 80'

DAL - Bressan (caution; delaying a restart) 82'

DAL - Bryan Acosta (caution; unsporting behavior) 90'

DAL - Bryan Acosta (ejection; second caution) 90'

DAL - Thiago Santos (caution; delaying a restart) 94+

Stat SKC DAL

Shots 20 13

Shots on Goal 4 9

Saves 6 2

Fouls 9 14

Offsides 1 1

Corner Kicks 8 5

Referee: Alex Chilowicz

Assistant Referee: Peter Manikowski

Assistant Referee: Peter Balciunas

VAR: Allen Chapman

AVAR: Jeffrey Swartzel


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