In MLS Cup 2000, KC made one goal on the counter stand up against an onslaught of offense by the Chicago Fire. Last night at Livestrong Sporting Park, KC had the reserve done to them by the Fire. KC had 27 shots, only 5 of which were on target, but it was the Fire that hit back on KC, winning 1-0 on a second half counter goal by Marco Pappa, playing the role of Miklos Molnar. At the other end, Sean Johnson played the role of Tony Meola.
KC came out from the start looking to immediately pressure Chicago, and as has been their habit, they created a number of chances early on in the game. The first good chance fell to Kei Kamara as a cross into the box fell to Graham Zusi who had his effort blocked into the path of Kamara. Kamara got his one time effort on goal, but Johnson got down and made a nice save to knock the ball away and KC wasn't able to get a chance off the rebound. At the other end of the field Jimmy Nielsen was forced into a good save on Dominic Oduro. After a cross into the box, Oduro hit it on the volley, that Nielsen got down and saved well and the rebound was cleared. KC continued to pressure Chicago and in the 24th minute had another good chance off a Zusi corner. Zusi found Aurelien Collin in the box, but Collin's header was straight at Johnson, and even with all the pace on it, Johnson did a great job of holding onto the shot and not giving up a rebound. KC while they had the possession in the first half, struggled to create good chances. CJ Sapong had trouble really get into the game as Jalil Anibaba did a good job matching up with the forward physically.
In the second half, KC continued to press to try to find the opening goal. Without getting a goal in the first half KC seemed to be throwing more and more numbers forward. KC though looked more and more vulnerable on the counter as they threw numbers into the attack. In the 58th minute, a Sapong cross was cleared by Dan Gargan into the path of Oduro who started a 3v2 break with Chris Rolfe and Marco Pappa against Collin, and first half substitute Matt Besler. Oduro played the ball ahead to Pappa who led the counter. Pappa fed Rolfe to his left. Rolfe drove into the box and then when he drew Collin in, laid the ball back to Pappa. Pappa fired a one time shot past Nielsen. The ball went right under Nielsen and into the net giving the Fire the 1-0 lead.
KC went back to it, attacking and going forward trying to find an equalizer now. Kamara had a good chance in the 64th minute when a Zusi free kick found Kamara in the box, but Kamara put the effort over the bar. Kamara became the key point of KC's attack at this point. Kamara forced another good save out of Johnson in the 75th minute when a Seth Sinovic cross found Kamara about 13 yards out. Kamara drove a powerful header towards the post, but Johnson made a great dive and pushed the ball around the post to keep the lead for the Fire. While KC continued to push, the Fire still looked for their opportunities to counter, and the introduction of their new signing, Alex, almost paid dividends a few times, but the KC defense was able to hold out.
The game hit a boiling point in the 85th minute. As KC continued to try to find an equalizer, Rolfe went down off the field of play with an injury. As KC continued to control the play and attack, Rolfe crawled back onto the field where he laid down waiting for the referee to stop play for the injury. His crawling on the field did not go unnoticed by fans who immediately started to boo the Fire player. Referee Baldomero Toledo though allowed play to continue as KC put numbers forward. When the ball went out of bounds Toledo did finally allow treatment for Rolfe. Nielsen immediately came out of his goal, rushing at Toledo yelling about the fact that Rolfe had come back on the field to try to stop play. Toledo immediately pulled out the yellow card on Nielsen for dissent. After discussing with his assistant, Toledo also gave a yellow card to Rolfe for time wasting and illegal reentry after he crawled back onto the field.
The final five minutes of regulation, plus stoppage time turned into frantic attack as KC pushed forward in waves. Kamara put another header wide of the post in the 88th minute. As KC entered the final 5 minutes of stoppage time the attack continued. In the 92nd, Kamara led another attack down the wing and found Bunbury in the middle. Bunbury's first touch looked bad at first glance, but then Bunbury turned and fired a volley that grazed the post and went out, although it appeared that Johnson would have covered the shot. KC picked up another corner that was partially cleared, but Peterson Joseph fired in another shot that was blocked. The rebound fell to Chance Myers at the top of the box. Myers turned and fired an effort just wide of the post. KC's final chance was another good one for KC. After a scramble in the box, the ball fell to Kamara around the corner of the box. Kamara fired the ball right back in on goal, but Johnson got a small touch on it pushing it wide. Off the ensuing corner, Besler headed the ball wide of the goal. In the end, Johnson played a fantastic game and KC did a poor job of putting their shots on frame and KC lost for the second straight time. Since their 7-0 start, the team is 2-5-2. They haven't scored a goal in the second half in league play since the team's 3-1 win in Vancouver back in April, a stretch of 430 minutes in the second half.
Wizards Man of the Match - Roger Espinoza - Espinoza continues to be having an MVP season for Sporting. He's continuing to control the midfield and disrupt the work by the opposing team in the midfield.
Player Ratings - Nielsen 5, Myers 6, Collin 5, Olum NR - Sinovic 6, Cesar 5, Espinoza 7, Zusi 6, Kamara 6, Bunbury 5, Sapong 4. Subs Besler 6, Saad 5, Joseph NR.