Sporting KC played a decent 45 minutes in the first half against Chicago, but fell apart in the second half, as the Chicago Fire beat KC 2-1 to send Kansas City to their 3rd straight loss. Early on it was the Fire that really controlled the play, keep the ball deep in KC's end and looking very threatening, especially on corner kicks, but the Fire couldn't find an opener. KC looked threatening coming the other direction on the counter. Kei Kamara forced a finger tip save from Sean Johnson as he got played in on goal. As the half wore on, KC started to get more of the play, and in the 31st minute, got the goal. Kamara played the ball to Roger Espinoza who had made a run down the line. Espinoza played a ball on the ground back across goal where Bobby Convey had made a run towards the near post. Convey miss hit his shot, but got enough of a touch on it to have the ball get past Johnson and into the net to give Kansas City the 1-0 lead. KC continued to push for a second goal after that first one, and if not for some good goalkeeping from Johnson, would have found it off the foot of Espinoza. In the 43rd minute, CJ Sapong made a run down the right side and played a ball back towards the top of the box. Espinoza hit it on the volley with his left. A slight touch from Johnson pushed the shot onto the cross bar and out for a corner kick.
In the second half though, things went down hill, and it all happened very quickly for KC. Sporting looked to be holding on, able to deal with the Fire's attack until the 60th minute. A long ball down the line found Dominic Oduro who had a step on Aurelien Collin. Oduro raced into the box with Collin tailing. Collin went to ground with a sliding tackle and got a little of the ball, but got more of Oduro, taking down the Fire forward, leaving the referee with little choice but to point to the spot. It was virtually a carbon copy of the penalty call that went against Collin last week at home against Montreal. For the second week in a row, Collin though avoided a card in that situation. Sebastian Grazzini stepped up and slotted the ball into the top corner on the penalty kick, leaving Jimmy Nielsen with no chance to make the save.
Only a minute after the Fire tied the game, things got worse for KC. On a 50/50 Espinoza went flying in to clear the ball against Grazzini. Espinoza led with his elbow and landed it around Grazzini's face. Grazzini made a meal of it, but Espinoza rightly got a red card and an early shower for his effort as KC went down to 10 men. A stupid challenge that didn't need to happen right in the middle of the field. Espinoza will be hearing from the league, and will probably get an extended suspension for the elbow. With the man advantage now, the game was all Fire, KC rarely was able to get it out of it's own end of the field. If anyone was going to find a winner, it was going to be the Fire, and in the 81st minute, it was gifted to them by Kamara. On a simple cross from Dan Gargan into the box, Kamara took it on his thigh to settle it, but instead of immediately clearing it, he took an extra two touches and lost the ball to Patrick Nyarko on the end line. Nyarko squared to Oduro who had a tap in to give the Fire the lead. Up a man and now up a goal, there was little doubt about the result. Nielsen had to make a few saves to keep it from getting worse.
To embarrass KC fans a little more, immediately after the game, Peter Vermes said that the referee was trying to make the game about himself instead of about the players, and called the referee the man of the match. Some very stupid comments from Vermes that will see him also getting a call from the league office most likely this week. I couldn't argue with the calls the referee made, Collin's PK, while he got some of the ball also got plenty of Oduro as well, and the whole "getting the ball first" is a misconception. And on Espinoza's red card, while you can argue intent, you can't argue the fact that Espinoza led into the challenge with his elbow, shoulder.
Wizards Man of the Match - Jimmy Nielsen - There really isn't anyone that stood out here. If not for his stupid red card, Espinoza probably would have gotten this, but well he did. Nielsen came up with 4 saves last night and there was little he could have done on either of the goals that he did concede.
Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Myers 5, Collin 4, Besler 4, Harrington 3, Cesar 5, Espinoza 3, Zusi 3, Kamara 3, Sapong 4, Convey 5. Subs Bunbury 4, Peterson 4, Olum NR.