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Friday, March 5, 2021

Johnny Russell scores twice in Sporting KC’s 3-2 loss to FC Dallas

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications.After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations.In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

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.

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