KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Whatever scoring malaise the Chicago Fire have, it's contagious. Or maybe it's just that nobody seems to want to score when Sporting Kansas City host the Fire in a home opener.
Three games into the season, the winless Fire are still looking for their first goal. It didn't come in a 0-0 draw with Sporting on Saturday afternoon at sold-out Sporting Park, but they did pick up their first point of the season, withstanding Sporting's overwhelming possession advantage.
Kansas City (1-1-1) outpossessed the Fire (0-2-1) 73 percent to 27 percent, but off-target shooting and three saves from Sean Johnson kept Sporting off the board for the first time this year.
Then again, Sporting haven't exactly been efficient in the attacking end since beating Philadelphia 3-1 on just seven shots in their season opener.
After netting just one goal in 16 shots in last weekend's 2-1 loss at Toronto FC, Sporting failed to connect in 20 attempts in their home opener – only three of which were on frame, and all of those straight at 'keeper Sean Johnson.
Few clear-cut chances arose in the first 45, but second-half sub Soony Saad lifted Sporting's hopes. In the 78th minute, he put his low blast just six inches left of the post, and Graham Zusi fired high from just outside the 6-yard box in the 84th after a solid through ball from C.J. Sapong.
The Fire almost stole all three points in second-half stoppage time, when Dan Paladini got loose for a 1-on-1 with Sporting 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen. But the White Puma made a sliding leg save and Aurelien Collin cleared to preserve Nielsen's first clean sheet of the season.
Johnson's shutout was also his first of the year.
Saturday's result mirrored one from two years ago. On June 9, 2011, the two sides met in the first-ever match at Sporting Park. It ended scoreless.
Sporting KC return to action next Saturday, March 23, when they travel to New England. The Fire return home to host Chivas USA on Sunday, March 24.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Sean Johnson||Didn't have a lot to do, but was in the right spots every time he was called up to earn his first clean sheet.|
|2||Jimmy Nielsen||After having nothing to do for much of the match, the White Puma came up big to deny Dan Paladini in the 90th minute.|
|3||Oriol Rosell||Bossed the midfield, distributed the ball well, showed some new physicality.|
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.