(March 19, 2022) — Missing six regular starters due to injury, shorthanded Sporting Kansas City (1-3-0, 3 points) suffered a 3-1 loss on Saturday at Soldier Field as the Chicago Fire (2-0-2, 8 points) continued their unbeaten start to the 2022 season.
Veteran midfielder Roger Espinoza scored for Sporting Kansas City in the 56th minute, becoming just the 13th player in team history to tally 50 combined regular season goals and assists for the club. In his 13th season, Espinoza now has 11 career regular season goals to go along with 39 regular season assists.
Twenty-one-year-old Sporting KC Academy product Cam Duke earned his first career MLS assist on the goal, combining with fellow Homegrown Player Felipe Hernandez to set up Espinoza and snap Chicago’s 325-minute shutout streak to open the campaign.
The Fire, coming off a 2-0 win at D.C. United last weekend, continued the club’s strong start to 2022 with a brace from offseason acquisition Kacper Przybylko and a penalty from record signing Xherdan Shaqiri, who also added two assists on the night to go along with the game-winning goal.
Przybylko opened the scoring at the half-hour mark on Saturday with his first goal since joining the team from the Philadelphia Union. The Fire’s first shot of the match found the back of the net as Przbylko’s left-footed strike eluded Tim Melia amidst the wet conditions in the Windy City.
The hosts doubled the lead five minutes into the second half as referee Tim Ford awarded Chicago a penalty as Mauricio Pineda went down inside the area. Shaqiri stepped to the spot and sent Melia the wrong direction to score his first goal in Major League Soccer after an illustrious career in Europe that included Champions League titles with Bayern Munich and Liverpool.
Playing in a 3-5-2 formation without the team’s three Designated Players – Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell and Gadi Kinda – as well as MLS All-Star Daniel Salloi and center forward Khiry Shelton, Sporting responded with a well-worked goal to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 56th minute. Making his first start of the year, Duke played a through ball into the path of Hernandez inside the penalty area and Hernandez did well to cut the ball back for a first-time finish from Espinoza. The goal was Espinoza’s first in MLS since the 2020 season and capped off a 19-pass sequence in the buildup.
The Fire would seal their first victory over Sporting since 2016 with a third goal in the 82nd minute coming on a quick transition after forcing a turnover in their attacking half. Przybylko bagged his second of the match and 37th of his MLS career on an assist from 18-year-old Brian Gutierrez.
Sporting KC will return home to host rivals Real Salt Lake at 6 p.m. CT next Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park. Tickets are available online at SeatGeek.com and the match will be nationally televised on UniMas and TUDN in addition to 38 The Spot’s local broadcast in Kansas City.