Fire’s Early Woes Continue, Fall to Sporting Kansas City 2-1

Sporting Kansas City had never won a match at Toyota Park – in fact, the last time they had beaten the Fire in Chicago, they were still known as the Kansas City Wizards and the Fire still played at Soldier Field – but that trend could only last so long, as Kansas City rode two early goals to down the Fire by a score of 2-1.

Three occurrences had been almost constant since the May 18th loss to Philadelphia: Conceding an early goal, Mike Magee scoring, and the Fire earning at least one point in standings.  The former two trends would hold up, but unfortunately the latter would not, as the Fire lost for the first time since the blockbuster trade to acquire Magee.

In just the sixth minute of play, Sporting Kansas City was awarded a deep free throw.  As the announcers on the ESPN national broadcast remarked that if the Fire defended well, they would have a chance to counterattack, Matt Besler’s throw in took a deflection to Benny Felihaber.  Felihaber took a strong shot that hit the post to Fire keeper Paolo Tornaghi’s right and ended up just behind the other post for the early Kansas City lead.

The Fire were used to playing behind a goal early, and had been successful in coming back from the same deficit multiple times over their undefeated run, but only once during the streak had they fallen behind by two, a match in which they drew the Portland Timbers with a final score of two to two.  Unfortunately, the Fire put themselves into this position when Graham Zusi beat Tornaghi with a curving shot from just outside the box.  Seth Sinovic was credited with an assist as the road side found themselves up two goals to none in just the eighth minute of play.

Lawrence Olum of Kansas City was handed a yellow card in the 28th minute, and just ten minutes later, Mike Magee scored his eighth goal in nine matches with the Fire, and tied Montréal’s Marco Di Vaio atop the MLS goal-scoring leaderboard with his eleventh total.  Unfortunately, that would be all of the goal scoring for the Fire, and when asked about his all-star selection in the MLS Fan XI, Magee promptly replied “I’m still fuming over the game today.  Yesterday I really wanted it, but today all I’m thinking about is how badly this loss feels at home in front of our biggest crowd that we’ve had since I’ve been here.  We literally laid down.”  Magee similarly refused comment on an individual accomplishment after he had scored his sixth goal in as many Fire matches.

Referee Baldomero Toledo would not restrain from pulling out cards, issuing seven in the match – two for Sporting and five to the Fire – including a straight red in stoppage time to midfielder Daniel Paladini, who had substituted for Alex as has been the norm recently.  Olum received his in the twenty-eighth minute, while Zusi would earn one for dissent in the fifty-fifth minute of play. Gonzalo Segares would follow in the fifty-seventh, the Jalil Anibaba in the sixty-second, Jeff Larentowicz in the eighty-first, and Bakary Soumaré in the eighty-fifth, before Paladinis’s red in the third minute of stoppage.

The Fire actually had a solid first half – the two minute Kansas City scoring run aside – leading possession with 53%, but would only possess the ball for 38% of the second half, collecting only two shots (one on target) in their attempt to equalize. Tornaghi was pulled by Fire coach Frank Klopas to join the offense on a pair of set pieces late in the second half, but the Fire would still not find reward.

Segares’s yellow was his fifth of the season, rendering him ineligible to play in the next league match, along Paladini following the red card he was issued.  Both remain eligible for the midweek friendly match against Club America at Toyota Park to be played at 7:30 PM on Wednesday at Toyota Park.  The match will be televised on both ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.  The Fire return to league action on Sunday at Vancouver’s BC Place in a 6:00 game to be televised on My50 and broadcast over the radio en espanol on La Ley 107.9.

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