A second-half strike from Johnny Russell powered Sporting Kansas City to a 1-0 home victory Sunday night over Minnesota United FC, vaulting them atop the Western Conference standings as both sides entered with a combined 13 players out injured.
Russell’s breakthrough came in the 80th minute on Sporting’s 21st shot of the evening, as he collected a Graham Zusi long ball after making a diagonal run from the right flank. The Scottish winger cushioned down Zusi’s service and beat Minnesota Dayne St. Clair with a precise finish.
Sporting entered halftime with a 15-1 shots advantage, and first came closest in the 66th minute when center back Bakaye Dibassy cleared Russell’s shot off the line. SKC even moved center mid Gadi Kinda to center forward when Khiry Shelton was subbed off in the 54th minute, searching for final-third answers.
Beyond several key injuries, Minnesota started the match with Robin Lod, Kevin Molino and Emanuel “Bebelo” Reynoso all on the bench. Each attacking midfielder entered throughout the second half, but the Loons ultimately failed to land any of their six shots on target.
- 80' – SKC – Johnny Russell | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: First place in the Western Conference was on the line, and Sporting rose to the occasion by ending a four-game winless streak. Minnesota have lost four of six matches since returning from the MLS is Back Tournament, and their rotated XI couldn’t muster a shot on target. Injuries took their toll on both clubs, with star strikers Alan Pulido and Luis Amarilla both notably absent.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: On a night when Sporting seemed unable to buy a goal, Johnny Russell broke the deadlock in the 80th minute. It was his third strike of the 2020 season, and a crucial one at that.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Gerso Fernandes didn’t supply the finishing touch, but Sporting's left winger was electric all night against a shorthanded Minnesota backline. He generated two key passes and often dribbled endline to create chances.