Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By TATE STEINLAGE
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The temperature and humidity in Kansas City skyrocketed Sunday afternoon, and the action on the field between Sporting Kansas City and the Chicago Fire could only keep up for so long.
Forwards Dom Dwyer and Mike Magee scored for their respective teams in the first half as the two sides played to a 1-1 draw in front of 20,585 fans at a sticky Sporting Park.
Despite temperatures in the low-90’s, the Fire came out with a hasty pace to start the match. Magee nearly put the away team up twice in the first half hour, but clearances off the line by Sporting KC defenders — including Aurelien Collin — would keep the match temporarily deadlocked at 0-0.
By the 31st minute mark, Collin had more saves than goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.
“I thought what really happened was we were not moving the ball quick enough so it allowed them to just hold their ground,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. “I think as the game went on, once again, they were in their half of the field. It was normal. We didn’t expect anything different.
“I don’t really think they were high up the field to be honest with you,” Vermes said. “I just think that our circulation the first half with the ball was very slow. I thought the second half was much better. They also tried to isolate a couple of our guys with the ball, but we adjustments for the second half and it changed everything.”
The uneasy start for the home side would be erased minutes later though thanks to a Fire mishap and Dwyer goal. Defender Patrick Ianni appeared to be playing a ball back to goalkeeper Sean Johnson, but a poor first touch would leave Dwyer all alone for an excellent curling effort to put the home side up 1-0. The goal prompted an amusing celebration which saw Dwyer and teammate Soony Saad take a selfie in front of a number of enthusiastic fans, though referee Alan Kelly didn’t find it as charming — showing Dwyer a yellow card for his antics.
The deficit would be soon be erased by none other than Magee, who was able to strike without the threat of a clearance. Again, it was a poor defensive effort that led to the goal — this time Seth Sinovic losing possession to midfielder Alex before making the strong pass to Magee for the score.
The 1-1 scoreline would hold steady into the halftime break and, with tired legs mounting, to the final whistle. Sporting KC was dominant throughout the final 45 minutes, holding nearly 80 percent of the possession and firing five shots on target, but goalkeeper Sean Johnson provided eight saves to freeze the scoreline at 1-1.
“The big thing for me is that we don’t quit, and we didn’t,” Fire manager Frank Yallop said. “We kept going and tried to do the right things. I thought Harrison Shipp was good today in that little pocket, finding good spaces. But in general I thought we did okay.
“We’ve tied a lot of games and it’s frustrating that we can’t seem to win,” said Yallop. “That was one of the games where I thought Sporting Kansas City deserved to win, but a lot of the other ties we’ve had we were pretty much on the verge of winning the match. It’s a close thing right now for us but today was a good fighting spirit with injuries and all the stuff that went on, and to get a point here is very difficult.”
With the result, both sides earn a crucial point in the MLS Eastern Conference. Sporting KC move to 7-5-5 and will travel next weekend to Montreal to face the Impact, while the Fire move to 2-4-10 and will also be on the road to face the New England Revolution Saturday.