Sporting KC top Minnesota, squeeze into play-in game


Johnny Russell curls SKC in front

Johnny Russell curls SKC in front

Johnny Russell scored a brace with a goal in each half as Sporting Kansas City defeated Minnesota United 3-1 Saturday night in Kansas City, Kan.

The victory, combined with a loss by Portland and a San Jose tie, allows SKC to secure the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoffs. SKC will host No. 9 seed San Jose in a play-in game on Wednesday.

Daniel Salloi assisted the first two goals for SKC.

Sporting (12-14-8, 44 points), which started 0-7-3, became the first club in MLS history to reach the playoffs after going winless in its first 10 matches.

Portland, Dallas and San Jose all entered Decision Day with 43 points. Sporting KC and Minnesota, each entering the day with 41 points, needed a win plus a loss or tie by at least one of the other three clubs.

Dallas easily advanced with a 4-1 victory over the LA Galaxy. But San Jose drew 1-1 with Austin FC and Portland fell 3-1 at Houston to be the first team out.

Minnesota (10-12-11, 41 points) played from behind most of the match and had to resort to a more physical approach. The Loons picked up 18 fouls, compared to just 10 for Sporting.

Russell put Sporting up 1-0 in the 28th minute. Salloi fed Russell with a cross-field pass that appeared harmless. But Russell dribbled through traffic before striking from just inside the box.

Three minutes later Salloi picked up his second assist. He dribbled up the left touchline. He lobbed it into the middle of the box, where Remi Walter one-timed it past Minnesota keeper Dayne St. Clair.

Sporting then played keep away for the rest of the half keeping the Loons from any scoring opportunities.

Russell gave Sporting a 3-0 lead in the 78th minute. Russell, who was questionable all week with a leg injury, blocked a clearing pass inside the box by Michael Boxall and right-footed it past St. Clair.

Boxall scored in the 82nd minute to avert the shutout.

--Field Level Media