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Oduro winner, Espinoza red card help Fire send Sporting KC to third loss


Chicago has not lost a home match to an Eastern Conference opponent since October 2010. That streak was put to the test Saturday night when conference leaders Sporting Kansas City entered Toyota Park to take on the Fire.

A second half red card to Roger Espinoza and a late goal by Dominic Oduro kept Chicago's unbeaten streak in tact, while also extending Sporting KC's own losing streak in the process.

A Chicago Fire penalty kick, a red card to Roger Espinoza and Dominic Oduro's game-winning goal helped the Fire post a 2-1 victory over Sporting KC on Saturday night.

Bobby Convey gave Sporting KC an early lead, but Sebastian Grazini equalized from the penalty spot shortly before drawing the red card on Espinoza after being caught in the face with an elbow. Chicago made full use of the man advantage, completing their turnaround when Oduro headed home his fourth goal of the season.

After the match, Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes voiced his displeasure with the decisive red card, implying the club would appeal the decision.

“We’ll be watching it. We’ll be watching what the angles are…..because that’s a big part of the appeal, and we’ll make a decision from there," Vermes said. "As of right now, it probably looks pretty darn good. Just a first time referee in the MLS, makes a very, very poor decision.”

Chicago spent much of the early going unable to produce any quality chances. The Fire failed to register a shot on goal in the first half, and were forced to adjust their defense when German international Arne Friedrich sustained a hamstring strain in the 29th minute. Dan Gargan, who Frank Klopas was hoping to rest over the weekend, was forced to enter the match. Kansas City capitalized on Chicago's disarray two minutes later when a Kei Kamara cross connected with Bobby Convey, who slipped his shot past Chicago's Sean Johnson to the far post, giving Kansas City the 1-0 lead.

Kansas City's lead lasted well into the 2nd half, when Dominic Oduro was brought down in the box by Aurelien Collin in the 60th minute. Sebastian Grazzini buried the penalty kick to draw Chicago even at a goal a piece. Just a few minutes later, a poor challenge by Roger Espinoza proved to be a pivotal point in the match. Espinoza came in on Chicago midfielder Sebastian Grazzini, swinging his elbow and connecting with Grazzini in the face. The foul was severe enough to warrant a straight red card from referee Jose Rivero, and shifted the momentum of the game in Chicago's favor.

Chicago continued to push after going a man up. In the 81st minute, Chicago again took advantage of a Sporting KC mistake, as Patrick Nyarko dispossessed Kei Kamara's attempted clearance, sending the ball into the six-yard box, where Oduro again involved himself in a crucial moment, this time slotting his 4th goal of the season past Jimmy Nielsen to give Chicago the 2-1 lead.

“Sometimes when a team gets a red card and play shorthanded, the team does better at times," Fire head coach Frank Klopas said. "But I thought that we had a very good second half.  The red card helped a little bit, but our ability to be patient and move the ball was key."

"Sometimes when you have that advantage, you play very individualistic and not as a team.  But I felt that we were very good with the ball,” Klopas added.

Chicago now gets a full week break to prepare for their next match against Portland Timbers, where they hope to continue their 3-game unbeaten streak. Sporting KC will look to break their three-match losing streak by beating the Colorado Rapids on the road.


  1. Not surprising to hear Roger Espinoza got a red card. The guy has skills but he is the king of cheap shots and dirty tactics.

  2. I am so looking forward to Vermes burning one of his two appeals on the season on this. Please, please, please, go through with your threat! I need a good long belly laugh!

  3. And Vermes is a complete tool if he thinks he’s going to get Espinoza’s suspension rescinded on that card.

    If Espinoza and SKC are really okay with that, let’s change the uniforms on the players and see how they feel about, oh, let’s say Logan Pause hitting Bobby Convey like that.

    Is that normal run-of-play contact? Not if you are a professional and have 20 years of experience on the field. That’s the kind of thing I see occasionally coaching 8 year olds by kids who are totally wired on physical contact and can’t control their bodies.

  4. Oh my God – was Sporting Kansas City playing against another team when they were in Chicago?!? You wouldn’t know it from the match preview that was posted a couple days ago (

    Thank goodness Chicago showed up to see if Peter
    Vermes strayed from his default lineup. It’s too bad the Fire put any points up though – it would have made it much easier to write the post-game summary if the only goals were by Kansas City.

  5. I was at the game and it happened right in front of me. Grazzini was literally checking to see if he had all his teeth. This should be a multiple game suspension. If not a blatent attempt to injure, it was certainly extremely reckless.

  6. Getting the ball first, however, does not give you a license to do whatever you want afterwards. Especially in this instance because after Collin knocked the ball Oduro still had a great chance at getting it until Collin took him out.

  7. I have a little more sympathy for Vermes re: the penalty. Looked like the defender got at least some ball. However, you roll the dice anytime you go to ground in the box, and Dom definitely would have had a play on the ball had he not been tripped up. As for the red, if that’s a bad call then I would love to hear what Peter the Not-so-Great thinks players should be sent off for. I’m surprised Grazzini didn’t lose any teeth.

  8. You watch that replay, Peter Vermes, and maybe you’ll just take a few of those comments back. That was a red if I’ve ever seen one.


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