KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Sporting KC’s6-0 drubbing of the Vancouver Whitecaps on Friday was a complete performance against a shorthanded side, but overall it had one central theme: Johnny Russell.


Russell snagged the match ball after his first MLS hat trick, and the second hat trick in MLS history by a Scottish player.


“It felt good,” Russell said after the game. “It’s always great, from a personal point of view, to score a goal. But to get three points was really important for me, and I’m glad I could contribute to a great team performance, and a great win.”


Russell started the night off with a bang in the 10th minute. A one-time shot, with his weak foot, placed inside the far post and into the back of the net.


Russell said he and the team felt the confidence early.


“Even during the warmup we felt good, in the changing room before we went out,” Russell said. “We started really well. And to get the early lead, especially when the other team was going to be difficult to break down, we broke them down early. I think that helped.”


Six minutes later, Russell got his second, a goal reminiscent of his recent AT&T Goal of the Week winner, with a run into the box fooling a defender before firing another shot into the goal. After a Jimmy Medranda wondergoal made it 3-0 in 30 minutes, Sporting KC were rolling, and Vancouver were looking increasingly out of the game.


What came next is something that Russell was hesitant to explain from his perspective. After Roger Espinoza was fouled by Kendall Waston shortly before halftime, a fracas broke out between the teams. Russell came to Espinoza's defense in the melee, and following Video Review, two Whitecaps players -- Yordy Reyna and Efrain Juarez -- were red carded, while Russell picked up a yellow card as sanction.


“I don’t want to talk about it too much, but It’s one of those things in football,” Russell said. “You stick up for your teammates. Every team does it. Every player does it. You never want to see anyone get sent off and that was unfortunate, but I’m still going to stick up for my teammates, just like their players did for them. So there’s no problem for me.”


With Vancouver down to nine men, and Sporting KC already playing them out of the park, the stage was set for Russell to get his hat trick. After Russell earned a penalty and deferred to appointed penalty taker Ilie Sanchez, Sporting KC captain Matt Besler played provider on Russell's hat trick goal.


Besler praised Russell’s influence for the team, tallying five goals and two assists in eight games since transferring from Derby County in the offseason.


“He’s been doing it all year for us, tonight especially,” Besler said. “He was in the zone. He was aggressive from the start, he was putting Vancouver on the back foot, which was huge for us.”


“He’s a huge part of our team," Besler added. “We’re lucky to have him. I’m glad that he’s here in Kansas City, and I’m glad that he had such a good night for us.”