Sporting KC Earns 2-2 Draw at Chicago
Sporting Kansas City (9-6-3, 30 points) moved into a tie for first place in the Western Conference following a tense 2-2 draw with Chicago Fire FC (5-8-5, 20 points) on Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field.
After Erik Hurtado's 35th-minute opener was canceled out by a Robert Beric strike on the brink of halftime, Sporting took their second lead of the day thanks to a Gadi Kinda header in the 83rd minute. However, Manager Peter Vermes' men were denied the full three points as Chicago substitute Djordje Mihailovic equalized on one of the final kicks of the match.
The result leaves Sporting on 30 points, level with Seattle Sounders FC and the Portland Timbers at the summit of the West. Chicago, meanwhile, has taken hold of the 10th and final playoff position in the East and snapped a four-game losing streak against Sporting that dated back to 2017.
Tasked with playing a fifth match in 15 days, Sporting Kansas City fielded a lineup that featured five changes from Wednesday's controversial 1-0 loss at FC Dallas. Center back Winston Reid reprised his role in place of Andreu Fontas, a new-look midfield featured three fresh faces in Kinda, Ilie Sanchez and 19-year-old Cam Duke, and forward Johnny Russell returned to the starting XI as part of a three-man attack alongside Hurtado and 18-year-old Gianluca Busio, who was notably deployed as a winger for the first time this season.
Hurtado made headlines for his AT&T Goal of the Week winner in last Sunday's defeat of Nashville SC and almost bagged another wonderstrike in the 11th minute when he galloped onto Melia's booming long ball over the top and fired a rapturous volley wide of the near post from a tight angle on the right flank.
A fleeting chance fell to Chicago four minutes later as Spanish playmaker Alvaro Medran whipped a free kick into the penalty area, and although a shot fell invitingly to former Sporting forward C.J. Sapong near the penalty spot, Ilie and Reid were both there to block the effort and extinguish the danger. Sapong was stymied once more from point-blank range in the 19th minute when Melia produced a phenomenal reflex stop on the heels of a well-orchestrated set piece by Chicago.
The game's first goal belonged to Sporting in the 35th minute. Kinda did brilliantly to steal possession in midfield, peel away from a defender and charge forward before rolling a ball into the path of Hurtado, who withstood a stiff arm from Chicago's Wyatt Omsberg and poked a crisp finish past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Kinda tabbed his third assist on the play, while Hurtado provisionally became the only MLS player to notch four goals in less than 300 regular season minutes this year.
In first-half stoppage time, VAR Hilario Grajeda aided the Fire in their bid for a leveler. Medran's looping corner was headed high into the air by Duke, kept alive by Omsberg and fired goalward by Beric on the left side of the box. The piledriver beat the outstretched Melia, and although Amadou Dia thought he had conjured a heroic goal line clearance, video review prompted official David Gantar to award the equalizer.
After neither side carved out an opening through the first 20 minutes of the second stanza, another point of controversy arose when Duke won a challenge inside the box and was whacked by Medran. Much to Sporting's dismay, the official waved play to resume and video review did not take place.
Sporting retained attacking initiative despite the denial of their penalty protests, and substitute Roger Espinoza gave Chicago a scare in the 78th minute when his long-range missile screamed a few feet off target. Sapong would then try his luck at the opposite end, his low-driven attempt dragging wide of Melia's right-hand post.
The 83rd minute delivered Sporting's second go-ahead goal of the afternoon. Russell's near-post corner kick was glanced across the face of goal by the head of Ilie, allowing Kinda to nod home on the doorstep for his fifth tally of the campaign. The play marked the seventh time Sporting has scored from a corner kick this season, tied for the most in MLS. Additionally, Kinda is one of four MLS newcomers -- including Sporting striker Alan Pulido -- with five goals and three assists in 2020.
Faced with their second deficit of the day, Chicago took swing in the 84th minute as substitute Elliot Collier settled a cross at the far post, cut onto his right boot and curled inches over the crossbar. Busio then went close to sealing all three points, but his 30-yard sledgehammer skipped marginally wide in the 86th minute.
The Fire stole an unlikely equalizer deep into added time. With 95 minutes on the clock, Mihailovic raced onto a floated ball in behind the Sporting defense, rounded Melia, took another touch and slotted into the gaping net to ensure a splitting of the points.
With a grueling run of matches in the rearview mirror, Sporting will have a full week to prepare for their next fixture against the Colorado Rapids (5-4-4, 19 points). Next Saturday's clash at Children's Mercy Park is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT with tickets available at SeatGeek.com and live coverage on FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports GO.
Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes
On the frustration from the game (video review decision, uncalled penalty kick, etc.)...
Did you want to add that there was four minutes of extra time and the goal was scored at 4 minutes and roughly 19-20 seconds. I'm trying to understand where the additional time came from because the game was being played by both teams at a fast and furious pace. Nobody was laying on the ground or anything, so I'd like to know where that also comes from. I don't know what to tell you. I don't have any answers for it. Maybe you guys could question those guys and ask them.
On the team's performance...
We played very, very well. Leading the game two times on the road, again (despite) everything against us. I absolutely loved the spirit of the group and the fight to want to win. I love it with the group. It's tremendous. We're going to keep fighting. We're going to keep fighting. No matter what happens in the game, we have to keep fighting because we're deserving of it for sure.
On the play of Gadi Kinda...
Whenever you score a goal, it's a good thing. I think that you have to always look at a person's play over the entire course of the game. Gadi's a good player for us and does a good job. He was, I believe, very important for us today in the way that we played and will be going (forward) in the future. I think every guy who played today came on the field and put a good shift in. We played very well, played to the plan and played to the adjustments that we made at halftime. Him and the rest of the guys, they were committed and they were fighting for it. That's what you want as a manager. You want your team to fight. You want your team to compete. The guys are doing that. That's a good thing.
On the team's set piece defense in the first half...
In the first half, I would say that we probably played about 40 minutes of a half. For the last five minutes, our management of the game was horrendous. We gave up a tremendous amount of set pieces in that first half that were our fault. Bad distribution, bad decisions coming out of the back. Those types of things. We just weren't fast enough with the ball at times. It was something we actually spoke about at halftime that we have to limit the amount of set pieces that we were giving away because if you give that many away, eventually something is going to go in on you. We were much better in the second half.
On the conditions...
These are not excuses. This is just reality. The wind was ridiculous. It was like a swirl inside the place. The grass was incredibly long. In the first half, a couple times the ball got stuck under everybody's feet. The players have to be able to adjust and adapt to that. The last piece is let's be realistic. We're playing away from home. The other team needs to to drive the game. I thought we were actually really good at some incredible counter attacks in the game. Sometimes you have to take what the game gives you and I thought that the guys actually found where we could take advantage of some things in the game. I thought they did a very good job of that.
Sporting Kansas City forward Erik Hurtado
On the feeling after the game...
I'm very upset right now. We had three points there and it was just a mental lapse at the end of the game. We did everything right. The three points were there for us. It's really frustrating right now. I think we deserved the win.
On his goal...
Gadi (Kinda) got the ball and I just took off. He knew to play me in behind. He played me a great ball. I took a good touch and finished it to the back post. It happened pretty quick - it was just a bang-bang goal.
On the conditions...
It was windy. It was a factor in the game but you've got to be able to adapt as a player. I think we were able to adapt to the conditions pretty well. I think we had most of the possession. We were winning second balls. We were doing what we needed to do. We were attacking. We were ahead until the last second of the game. It's just real frustrating right now.
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Gianluca Busio
His thoughts on the match...
Obviously, it hurts a little bit. We were up 2-1 in the final minute. I thought we did well and we deserved three points but sometimes that's how the game goes. We have to bounce back and move on to the next one. It's definitely disappointing. I think we have to take the good. We got a point away from home against a good team. We didn't get the three points but we have to move on.
On playing a second straight opponent that was more rested...
It's going to help a lot. Obviously, the schedule is congested. With what we've dealt with, we've done well. I think this week of rest to build up for the game will be really important for us and really much needed. We try not to pay attention to what other teams do. We try to focus on ourselves. It's good that we get some time off, but we want to play the next one and we're ready for the next one.
On the play of Cam Duke...
I thought he did well. He's a quick player and he's good on the ball. He had a couple nice turns and runs and good balls. He's only going up from here. We have a good core group of young guys and it's showing with all of the Academy products getting on the field more and playing well. I'm happy for him. We all want to see each other succeed. Hopefully he can get more starts and continue to play well.
On frustrations in the match...
You want to try not to factor in all of the other things that you can't control. Obviously, it's tough sometimes when week in and week out you've got calls going against you. We try to work around that. It's frustrating, but it's something we can't control. As a team, we've gotten better at controlling what we can control and trying not to leave the game up to referees or any of that. It's frustrating, but we try not to speak about it that much and not leave it up to them.
Chicago Fire FC Head Coach Raphael Wicky
On the last 20-25 minutes of the match and Djordje Mihailovic's composure on the second goal...
To be honest, I have to watch the game again. I cannot really give you a very clear feedback on the last 20 minutes. I can give you feedback on the 90 minutes. I think it wasn't a good game, we didn't play our football like we normally play. But in the end of the day, we obviously are happy with the point. When you equalize in minute 92 or 93, I don't know when it was, you have to take the point and be happy. But overall, I think we were sloppy with the ball, we lost a lot of easy balls, we gave away a lot of easy balls, that's not how we want to play. We were technically not as clean as we normally are. I think in the end of (the day), I think today we have to take the point and be happy with that. To your second question, obviously, Djordje finishes that goal really, really well. I have to watch it again. I thought he (could have) finished with his left foot, but then he cut again and then said, 'Oh, what is he doing?' But in the end of the day, it was beautifully done and yeah, great goal for him.
On Wednesday's game postponement...
I mean, we flew to Minnesota to play. When you travel there, obviously, you want to play. It was a lost day for everyone. We couldn't train, we just traveled there. We had to wait in the hotel and then we got, I think two and a half hours before kickoff, we were told that the game is canceled or postponed. But look, it is what it is. It's difficult for everyone, this situation is very difficult and I think the league and everyone handled it really and it's not easy to handle all these situations; to find the right mix of being careful or playing or not playing in these circumstances. So not blaming anyone; obviously, it's not what you hope when you travel. When you travel and fly everywhere, you hope that you can play. It didn't happen, so now we have to move on.
On the team's character and the significance of a late equalizer...
Look, I think coming back is always important. We came back twice today at home, in a difficult game against a good opponent who is full of confidence. They're very well in the rankings. We came back twice, that shows character, the team never stopped fighting. Like I said in the beginning, we didn't play our best football, but we somehow stayed in the game and didn't give up, and I think that's very, very important. It shows the team that you always have to believe and always have to keep working, because anything is possible in this game. So we'll take this point. For the morale and the mentality of the team, it was really important and really good. Now we have to work for next weekend and try to be better, try to have a better game.
Chicago Fire FC defender Jonathan Bornstein
On how he would describe today's match...
Yeah, I mean we knew going in that it wasn't going to be an easy game. Every time Kansas City steps on the field, they're a very honest team, hard working team, so that's kind of what we expected. A big battle from both sides. And that's kind of what we saw, especially in those last 15-20 minutes. Obviously, you know, (to) get a point like that at the very end, it's a very positive thing for us, feels like a tie, but you know at the end, it feels like we stole some points from Kansas City especially. And, you know, got to keep this momentum going forward. So yeah, definitely a tough match, but that's what we expected.
On the postponed match in Minnesota due to COVID-19...
I mean, obviously it's not an easy situation. This year has kind of been like that. Where you're kind of always waiting to see what's going on with COVID or what the situation is going to deal. And obviously we were ready to play. We obviously flew there and, you know, mentally, physically we're all prepared to go out and play them but, you know, sometimes the situation due to COVID doesn't go your way. We had to fly back. It was obviously a tough travel day but, you know, we moved on from it, put in the past, hopefully we can make up that game. It wasn't easy. But, you know, that's kind of how this year's been and we've been ready to deal with whatever's come our way so I was proud of the team for not really complaining about what happened or anything and taking it in stride so it was nice of the guys.
On the playoff race and the pressure of chasing points at this point in the season...
I think, obviously, our goal is to make the playoffs. So, yes there's that pressure, you know, to fight to the end and get as many points as we can. We do feel like we're in the playoff race. We're right there, right underneath the cusp of the line, you know. To win every game is our goal. And obviously, you know, that point will be a positive point going forward. We got to make up a game too with another game in hand. If we get some more points we jump, we push ourselves into the playoff picture so these next games coming up are must wins. If we want to have a chance, and give ourselves a chance to get in that playoff picture. So, even though it's been a tough year, difficult year, it's kind of a crazy, crazy structure that has been going on, we do have that goal of making the playoffs and that's what we're shooting for.
Chicago Fire FC midfielder Djordje Mihailovic
On the last 25 minutes of the match, and responding after the postponed match on Wednesday...
Yeah I mean, Wednesday we knew there was some question about the match against Minnesota. We treated it like we're going down there and playing, we didn't treat it like there was a question about whether we would play. In the end, you know the game was canceled. It gave us an extra day of rest, which was actually helpful. And about the match, you know, it was a tough match against this team. One of the best teams in the league, one of the best teams in the West. And especially in the conditions with, with the wind, the field, I think we did a great job against them. And now we just got to look forward to the next one.
On how he would evaluate his 2020 season so far...
This 2020 season is just, you know, up and down you know like every other season. There's highs, there's lows and that's all I got to say about that.
On his goal in the final minute of stoppage time...
Yeah I saw Mauricio, and obviously the wind played a big role in that. It did help the ball up in the air and gave me enough time into the ball, but I saw Mauricio line up just to send it long. You know, in the 94th+ at the end of the game, just got to get the ball into the box and hope something good happens. And obviously, I was first to the ball, got around them and with the field and it's a bit bumpy from the football game so I didn't really want to risk some sort of issue with that so I just had to control the ball and make sure I had it all under control. So that's what I did.
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 18 of 23
Soldier Field | Chicago, Illinois
Weather: 63 degrees and cloudy
Score 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City (9-6-3, 30 points) 1 1 2
Chicago Fire FC (5-8-5, 20 points) 1 1 2
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Jaylin Lindsey, Roberto Puncec, Winston Reid, Amadou Dia; Ilie Sanchez, Gadi Kinda (Felipe Hernandez 85'), Cam Duke (Roger Espinoza 67'); Johnny Russell (C), Erik Hurtado (Khiry Shelton 78'), Gianluca Busio
Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Matt Besler, Andreu Fontas, Luis Martins, Gerso Fernandes, Daniel Salloi
Chicago Fire FC: Bobby Shuttleworth; Boris Sekulic, Francisco Calvo, Wyatt Omsberg (Brian Gutierrez 90'), Jonathan Bornstein; Mauricio Pineda, Alvaro Medran; Ignacio Aliseda (Przemyslaw Frankowski 60'), Fabian Herbers (Djordje Mihailovic 60'), C.J. Sapong (Elliot Collier 81'); Robert Beric
Subs Not Used: Connor Sparrow, Andre Reynolds, Nicholas Slonina, Micheal Azira, Javier Casas
SKC -- Erik Hurtado 4 (Gadi Kinda 3) 35'
CHI -- Robert Beric 8 (Wyatt Omsberg 1) 45+1'
SKC -- Gadi Kinda 5 (Ilie Sanchez 1, Johnny Russell 4) 83'
CHI -- Djordje Mihailovic 2 (unassisted) 90+5'
CHI -- Mauricio Pineda (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 22'
Stat SKC CHI
Shots 8 8
Shots on Goal 5 4
Saves 2 3
Fouls 10 12
Offsides 2 3
Corner Kicks 4 5
Referee: David Gantar
Assistant Referee: Brian Poeschel
Assistant Referee: Adam Garner
Fourth Official: Silviu Petrescu
VAR: Hilario Grajeda
AVAR: Eric Boria
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