Early red card costly as Sporting KC falls to Chicago
Sporting Kansas City played with just 10 men for the majority of its match Saturday at the Chicago Fire, and the result was a 3-2 loss at Toyota Park.
It was Kansas City's first loss of the season.
Designated Player Omar Bravo was sent off in the 30th minute, forcing KC to play with 10 men the rest of the way.
Sporting Kansas City scored twice in the second half despite being a man down as defender Matt Besler recorded the first goal of his career and striker Teal Bunbury marked his return with a well-taken strike for the game’s final goal.
Fire midfielder Marco Pappa was at the center of Chicago’s attack early in the first half, sending a shot narrowly wide of the far post in the 14th minute and forcing a save by Jimmy Nielsen on a curling free kick seven minutes later.
The game then took a decisive turn in the 30th minute. Moments after Sporting Kansas City defender Chance Myers nearly got on the end of a free kick from forward Milos Stojcev for KC’s first notable scoring threat, Chicago countered immediately on a long pass from Pappa and earned a penalty kick after Bravo was called for pushing Puerari as he sent his shot over the crossbar. Bravo, deemed to have denied an obvious goal scoring opportunity by referee Jasen Anno, was sent off for the challenge and Chaves converted the ensuing penalty kick for his second goal of the season.
Down a man, Sporting KC fell behind 2-0 in the 40th minute. Fire midfielder Michael Videira avoided a tackle in midfield and sent a well-weighted through ball for Puerari behind the KC defense. The Uruguayan bent his first-time shot around Nielsen for his first goal in MLS play.
The two-goal deficit sparked life into the Sporting Kansas City attack, which created a pair of chances in the first half’s final minutes. Sporting KC captain Davy Arnaud delivered a free kick that forced a solid save from Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson after a defensive header nearly ended up in the net. Three minutes later, a cross from KC midfielder Stephane Auvray found Myers at the backpost but his sliding volley went high.
The second half started with a strong save by Nielsen on a shot taken by Chaves on the right side, but KC’s insertion of striker Teal Bunbuy at the break brought immediate energy to the frontline, sans Bravo. In the 50th minute, Bunbury broke through the Fire defense but had his shot saved by Johnson.
On the second of two corner kicks in the aftermath of Bunbury’s blast, Sporting Kansas City got on the scoreboard as Arnaud sent a dangerous cross into the penalty area that couldn’t be collected by Johnson and fell to Besler for the first goal, and point, of his career in the 51st minute. Besler, a Notre Dame alum, was playing in front of several close friends who made the nearly 100-mile trip to Toyota Park from South Bend, Indiana.
Sporting Kansas City’s momentum was short-lived as Chicago scored their third goal of the game on an individual effort from Pappa with just over 30 minutes to play. The Guatemalan midfielder dribbled his way into the top of the penalty area and slipped a shot inside the post for the swift response, which proved to be the eventual game-winner.
Unwavered, Sporting Kansas City cut into the Chicago lead in the 72nd minute as Bunbury intercepted a pass from Fire defender Gonzalo Segares and beared down on Johnson before burying his shot on the breakaway.
Sporting Kansas City will continue its 10-game road trip to start the 2011 season at 6 p.m. Saturday in its first meeting against the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Field.