Sporting KC edges Sounders to clinch playoffs


Johnny Russell scored in the 79th minute to lift Sporting Kansas City to a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders in a chippy Western Conference match in Seattle. There were a total of eight yellow cards shown.

Russell has scored a goal in seven straight matches.

Sporting (16-7-7, 55 points) drew within three points of Seattle in the Western Conference with a game in hand.

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The winning goal was set up when Roger Espinosa raced out of the midfield and found Russell streaking up the right side. Russell chipped it past Seattle keeper Stefan Frei.

Cristian Roldan hammered a shot off the crossbar in the third minute of stoppage time for Seattle (17-7-7, 58 points).

Sporting, which is 7-0-0 following a loss this season, is 8-5-2 away from Children’s Mercy Park. The eight wins is a club record for road wins in a season.

Sporting clinched its 10th playoff berth in the past 11 seasons. Seattle already had clinched its 13th straight playoff spot.

Seattle had a 15-8 edge in shots and placed five on target. Sporting had three on net.

Sporting got on the board first when Remi Walter connected for his first career MLS goal in the fourth minute. Frei deflected the initial shot by Russell. Khiry Shelton‘s follow-up attempt was blocked by Alex Roldan before the ball fell at Walter’s feet outside the box. He fired it toward the goal, where it was deflected past Frei.

Walter’s goal was Sporting’s 10th goal from outside the box, the most in MLS this season.

Sporting held a 55-45 advantage in possession in the first half. Sporting had a 7-3 advantage in shots, with each team having two shots on goal.

Seattle increased the pressure to start the second half, peppering the Sporting defense. Cristian Roldan picked up a yellow card when he backed SKC keeper Tim Melia into the net. Melia took exception and threw Roldan to the ground, earning his own yellow card.

Seattle finally leveled the match in the 58th minute. Joao Paulo served up a perfect pass off a corner kick and found Nicolas Benezet in front of the Sporting KC net, and he redirected it past Melia.

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