June 29, 2012
Fire top KC for third straight win
KANSAS CITY, Kan.---Sean Johnson held off a barrage of late Sporting Kansas City shots and Marco Pappa's goal held up as the Chicago Fire won their third straight game, 1-0 at Livestrong Sporting Park Friday night.
|Marco Pappa moved into a tie with Dominic Oduro for the Fire scoring lead, netting his fifth of the season in Friday night’s 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
The win improves to Fire to 8-5-3, 27 points, while Sporting, playing their fifth game in 14 days, lost for the second straight time to fall to 9-5-2, 29 pts.
After a slow and lackluster performance by both teams in the first half, Pappa gave the Fire the lead in the 58th minute on a brilliant breakaway. Kansas City’s CJ Sapong lofted a ball into the area, where Fire defender Da Gargan cleared it back out to Pappa near midfield. Pappa made a dash upfield then dished off to Chris Rolfe on the left side. Rolfe gave the ball back to Pappa for a clinical finish past Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen from inside the penalty area.
With the first goal on the board, the pace of the game picked up on both sides, with Kansas City especially pressuring the Fire defense looking for the equalizer. And although Johnson was often left without cover by his backline, he was up to the task.
In the 68th minute, Graham Zusi lofted a perfect free kick into the six-yard box that appeared destined for the head of a wide open Kai Kamara, but Johnson punched the ball away before any damage could be done. Just three minutes later, Johnson grabbed Teal Bunbury’s header out of the air.
The holes in the Fire defense continued to open, but Sporting could not take advantage. In the 75th minute, Zusi played a ball from the right side across a wide open six yard box, but no one was there to poke the ball into the open net.
Johnson came up with his best save of the game in the 76th minute, when Kamara snapped a header down, and the 6-4 goalkeeper went full stretch to get his hand on it. Kamara had another header cleared off the line by second half sub Hunter Jumper in the 80th minute. And, with time running down, the Fire, and especially Johnson, withstood a wild barrage.
In the 92nd minute, Bunbury got on the end of a cross going toward the right of the penalty area. He managed to spin and volley it across his body, narrowly missing the opposite post. Less than a minute later, Soony Saad got a ball back from Chance Myers and fired a point blank shot from inside the 18 that sent Johnson diving to stop.
Fire coach Frank Klopas got a chance to look at his newcomer, sending Alex in for Pappa in the 64th minute.