Tag Archives: Johnny Russell

Johnny Russell’s historical hat trick helps Sporting KC break winless streak

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City finally snapped it’s seven-game winless streak in a thrilling 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday. Johnny Russell’s hat trick and Tim Melia’s cat-like reflexes sealed the deal.

Even though ten players remain on the injury list, with five totally out, the list is finally shrinking as Vermes nearly sat a full bench. Yohan Croizet started in Krisztian Nemeth’s place, who was out due to a red he picked up in the match against the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend. And Jimmy Medranda made his triumphant return.

Sporting KC got off to a strong start, attacking the visitor’s side twice, but Stefan Frei was quick to deny both attempts.

Nicolas Hasler provided the spark the team needed for the opening goal by keeping the ball in play in the 29th minute. He slotted it through to Croizet who defeated the defender to find Russell. And Johnny smashed it home!

The team has clearly put a lot of trust in Kelyn Rowe as they helped place him into 1v1 situations. However, all attempts were either denied by Frei or flew over the bar.

Luckily, Russell completely dismantled the Sounders’ defense to double Sporting KC’s lead just before the half.

Shortly after the restart, Raul Ruidiaz pulled one back for the visitors putting the score up 2-1.

Croizet kept it away from the defender, passing it to Kelyn Rowe who sent a cross to Russell in the penalty area. Without hesitation, Russell flicked it into the back of the net, scoring the hat trick in the 68th minute. He is the second player in club history to score two hat tricks. And a bonus fact, his second hat trick came on the same day that Eddie Johnson scored his second hat trick for the club.

However, the celebrations were cut short. Seattle’s Kelvin Leerdam quickly answered Russell’s goal by putting in a header off of a set piece, going straight through SKC’s defense.

With the score now 3-2, Sporting KC went into full gear to protect the goal at any cost. Even seeing an injured captain, who kept grabbing his hamstring for a better part of the half, fight through the pain to help his team. Unfortunately, Besler would call it quits in the 79th minute because of fatigue. Graham Smith would take this place.

But his exit didn’t displace SKC as Melia went on to make a stunning double-save and was later called back into action to deny a Sounder from close range.

Jimmy Medranda, who entered to a standing ovation from the crowd; after spending nearly a year and a half out due to injury, wasted little time to fire a rocket shot at the goal, but it deflected off the post.

A last-minute attempt saw Frei step out to the half to assist his teammates. But it would fail as the ball flew wide of the goal – ending the match in a much needed 3-2 victory for Sporting KC.

Sporting KC will have a quick turnaround as they host the LA Galaxy on Wednesday, May 29.

Featured image: @sportingkc

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Busio secures 2-2 Draw for Sporting KC against New York Red Bulls

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Just three days after being eliminated from the 2019 Concacaf Champions League in a semifinal defeat to Monterrey, Sporting Kansas City returned to MLS action. And their return did not go as expected as they earned a 2-2 draw against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

New York had entered Sunday with a three-game losing streak and successfully avoided a fourth straight defeat thanks to improved performance in the second half. It was the first time Sporting KC hosted their East Coast rivals since the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final.

On the brink of falling below the line in the standings, Sporting KC displayed a sense of urgency after Gerso Fernandes created instant danger for the visitors after going down to the left side to send in a cross. Five minutes later, Felipe Gutierrez forced a diving save from Luis Robles.

Johnny Russell came close to earning the early goal in the 10th minute after dismantling the Red Bulls’ defense however his close-range shot missed the net by mere inches. Moments later, the Scotsman notched the game opener with a low strike in the 24th minute; scoring his fourth goal this season.

Sporting KC led the match 1-0 into halftime. But it wouldn’t take long for New York to flip the script and level the match. Shortly after the restart, Daniel Royer broke through SKC’s defense and got around Tim Melia for the equalizer.

Brian White doubled the Red Bulls’ lead in the 75th minute with a diving header – following a sequence of plays from Kaku and Aaron Long.

Is Gianluca Busio Sporting KC’s new secret weapon? Maybe.

Fresh off the bench, the 16-year-old struck the equalizer past Robles to secure the draw for the home side in the 88th minute, as he did in Cincinnati last weekend. Graham Zusi’s low drive through a crowded penalty area reached the young Sporting KC Academy product, who coolly steered the ball home from close range to record his fourth career MLS goal.

During the final minutes of stoppage time, a mass confrontation broke out after Red Bulls’ Kaku sent a strike into the stands at point-blank range. This act caused the home side to jump to the fan’s defense, invoking a two squad square off.

*Watch the full clip here

Kaku was ultimately shown a red for violent conduct and ejected from the match. Sibiga then issued cautions to Luis Robles and Krisztian Nemeth for unsporting behavior in the brawl. Following the final whistle, players from both sides greeted the fan and to see if he was doing well.

Fight club antics aside, after facing three consecutive teams from the Eastern Conference – Sporting KC will return to the road in the West when they travel to San Jose to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, April 20.

Featured image: Araceli Villanueva

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Sporting KC claims victory over Houston Dynamo in Preseason Finale

Official Sporting KC Reporter

By Araceli Villanueva // @Aracelv1

Sporting Kansas City is Champions League-ready following the conclusion of their 2019 preseason run with 4-1 and 1-1 results in split-squad matches at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona.

In the first match, Houston Dynamo was quick to take the early lead in the 5th minute, as Alberth Elis picked up a loose ball and fired it past Tim Melia into the bottom corner.

Houston’s short victory did not last long—Johnny Russell curled in a beautiful shot off of a cross by Krisztián Németh to level the match in the 11th minute.

Regaining possession and some confidence, Felipe Gutierrez put Sporting KC back ahead after sliding one in from Seth Sinovic. The goal was initially ruled out for offside but was allowed after the play underwent review from the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Six minutes later, Németh scored by firing into the corner from Gerso after Sporting KC forced a turnover—bringing the tally up 3-1.

Sinovic came close to adding another goal to Sporting KC’s score—after sending one from down the middle in the 41st minute. However, his chance went straight into Joe Willis’ arms; ending the first half 3-1.

The tide turned as Houston’s Romell Quioto tried to score a corner, but Matt Besler was quick to deny it. Then, a header by Mauro Manotas went straight to Melia. Despite all efforts, Sporting KC’s backline continued to pressure and keep Houston away from the goal as they pushed forward.

Late in the second half, both sides shared a red card each, as first Quioto was shown a straight red for a sliding challenge on Gutierrez, and then Roger Espinoza was ejected for a pair of yellow cards. This forced both teams to play with ten men, but it didn’t stop the momentum.

Just when it seemed the match would end 3-1, Graham Zusi freed Nemeth from the backline, who took the ball and clipped it over Dynamo’s goalkeeper to make the final score 4-1.

In the other split-squad match on a separate field at Kino Sports Complex, Sporting KC battled to a 1-1 draw with Houston Dynamo.

Similar to the first game, both sides traded plays until Yohan Croizet opened up the scoring for Sporting KC with a right-footed, 30-yard strike. Shortly after the break, Memo Rodriguez got the equalizer. After a chippy half, the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Sporting KC will continue to train in Arizona before returning to a chilly Kansas City to host Toluca FC on Thursday, Feb. 21 for the first-leg of the Champions League.

Featured image: @SportingKC

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And It’s Soccer Time

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting Kansas City/mlsfemale
Official Sporting Kansas City Reporter

By Kirsten Arpin // @Kirsten_Hoogs

So, friends, it’s March. How is it already March? In a week and a half I’ll be on spring break again, but this time I’ll be on spring break in the place where everyone else goes for spring break. So no Disney for me for awhile. Read more here

Also, I’m really sorry I’ve been AWOL for the past few months. This transition to a new school hasn’t been difficult, per say. I have just been far busier than I was at my old school. I promise that I will be here for the season, so if you look forward to my ramblings they will be there.

I could also treat you to a paper on the history and rise of LGBTQ culture in American musical theatre, or a theoretical comparison of Max Richter’s Recomposed and Vivaldi’s La Primavera…if you’re interested. I can also clinic your concert band. But back to soccer.

Sporting KC has made a good bit of movement during the offseason. We lost Latif Blessing to the Expansion Draft, Benny Feilhaber is gone to LAFC for allocation money, and Andrew Dykstra is off to Colorado for a pick in the 2020 Super Draft.

We picked up quite a few players as well. We drafted Eric Dick a goalkeeper from Butler who was born in Roeland Park, KS, and Graham Smith (yes, we have two Grahams) from the University of Denver. We also signed homegrown player Matt Lewis, a defender from Fordham. Lewis, Dick, and Smith seem like they can be solid loans to Sportings USL affiliate the Swope Park Rangers so they can continue to grow and improve.

There are also three new International Players with some serious soccer chops. Yohan Croizet is a midfield/forward transfer from Belgian side KV Mechelen. He has scored 31 goals since beginning his professional career in 2011.

Another new midfielder is Chilean national team veteran, Felipe Gutierrez. Gutierrez has featured in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 2015 Copa America Gold Medal Team, the 2017 Confederations Cup, and 2018 World Cup qualifying. Last season he was on loan to Brazilian team Internacional from Real Betis.

 

Kirsten Arpin - Sporting KC/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Derby County

 

The last international player is forward Johnny Russell from Scotland. He is a proven goal-scorer with 94 professional goals in both England and Scotland. He has spent the last five years at Derby County in England’s second-division. In addition to his 94 professional goals, he has one international goal in his four caps for Scotland.

Many Sporting fans have been worried about having a consistent goal-scoring threat up front. It seemed like Dom Dwyer was going to be that type of player, but he was never able to recreate his success from his pair up with Kristian Nemeth. Diego Rubio and Gerso Fernandes are both working their way toward that level, but neither has quite reached where the team needs them to be yet.

Russell could be that guy. He has the experience, so if he can translate those skills to MLS he could be a major threat.

Another player to be excited about is veteran MLS player Brad Evans. He comes to SKC as a free agent from the Seattle Sounders where he was part of four Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Championships and one MLS Championship. He is also a former member of the US Men’s National Team having started five matches in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying and competing in two CONCACAF Gold Cups. He will add some depth to a defensive line that took a hit with the departure of Saad Abdul-Salaam to NYCFC and the waiving of Kevin Ellis.

I am optimistic about the season. SKC’s defensive line plus Tim Melia was the strongest in the MLS last season and with the growth of Gerso and Diego Rubio and the addition of Johnny Russell I can see this being a successful season for boys in blue. Ben Baer from MLS.com thinks we’ll finish 3rd in the West. Let’s show him what’s what, guys. Oh, Captain My Captain, Matt Besler says it’s time for more trophies, so let’s bring some cups home to KC.

Fun Facts

The new alternate jersey is straight fire. I’m 100% serious. The Men in Blazers even think so.

Take a gander at these babies. Modeled by my personal favorite, the Bes.

beslerjersey
Image courtesy: @SportingKC

Sporting opens their season this Sunday at home (finally) against NYCFC. You can catch the game on ESPN at 7:30 est/6:30 cst.

MLS IS BACK!

#ForGloryForCity

Featured image courtesy: @SportingKC

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @Kirsten_Hoogs

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