Johnny Russell's world-class free kick was enough to salvage a 1-1 draw between Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night at Children's Mercy Park.

The Western Conference match lived up to the billing. Played at a frenetic pace from start to finish, challenges flowed and tempers flared as the second-place and third-place teams in the West battled it out.

Colorado opened the scoring through Jonathan Lewis in the 17th minute. Again in a more central role, the 24-year-old attacker received a layoff from Andre Shinyashiki and blasted a low shot towards goal. Sporting defender Graham Zusi did well to get down and block the initial shot, but the rebound fell directly to Lewis, who saw the goal gaping and made no mistake with the finish.

After the goal, SKC quickly grew into the game. Daniel Salloi forced William Yarbrough into a decent save, while Russell rang the bar with a header. The dam eventually broke in the 41st minute, though. Gadi Kinda drew a foul just outside Colorado’s penalty area, and Russell curled the resulting set-piece into the top corner past a helpless Yarbrough.

The second half saw its fair share of chances. Mark-Anthony Kaye nearly found the go-ahead goal, rattling the post in the 68th minute before Shinyashiki flashed the rebound just wide.

Russell also came inches away from a winner in the 89th minute. Alan Pulido sent in a cross to the back post for the waiting captain, who laid out to get a toe on the ball but couldn’t get clean contact. His scuffed effort bounced toward goal and was cleared off the line by Auston Trusty.

The Rapids found themselves with a golden opportunity to snatch three points in the 94th minute. Michael Barrios was sprung in behind Sporting’s defense and laid the ball off to a wide-open Cole Bassett. The homegrown midfielder had time and space to take the shot but hit the crossbar.

Goals

  • 17' - COL - Jonathan Lewis | WATCH
  • 41' - SKC - Johnny Russell | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: While both sides would have loved three points to close the gap on first-place Seattle, they'll be happy to keep six-game unbeaten streaks alive. Sporting will feel hard done by the result, outshooting the visitors 20-8, but shared points were a deserved result on the whole.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Johnny Russell's first-half free kick wasn't just a perfectly placed set-piece, but a result-saving goal for the home side. The Scottish winger bagged his fourth finish of the season in style, bending a beautiful strike over the wall past a completely helpless 'keeper.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: While Ilie Sanchez certainly has a case for his masterclass in building out of the back, the honors go to Russell. His goal keeps Sporting KC within touching distance of Seattle, setting the Western Conference up for a thrilling race to the finish.

Next up

  • SKC: Friday, September 3 at LAFC | 10 pm ET (UniMas, TUDN, Twitter)
  • COL: Saturday, September 4 at San Jose Earthquakes | 10 pm ET (UniMas, TUDN, Twitter)