The Fire lost out on an opportunity to take possession of first place in the Eastern Conference but not all is lost. Although the outcome is certainly a disappointment given the expectations building up to this match, the club still has time to make up ground and possibly capture the top spot in the East if they win the games they are supposed to win during the last month of the season.
The unfortunate part of the outcome from the Fire's standpoint is the manner in which the first half was played. Chicago rarely had an answer for Sporting's high pressure and were not able to maintain much possession or cohesion in the passing game turning ball the over continuously. The second half started in much the same fashion although the Fire seemed to regain some advantage at around the sixtieth minute as the urgency to push for an equalizer changed the club's dynamic on the pitch. Kansas City, a team that boasts the best defensive record in MLS was able to hold on despite a flurry of rushes and they may have received a helping hand from refereee Chris Penso.
Make no mistake about it. Kansas City was the better team on the night and deserved the three points but another questionable performance from Penso certainly made a mockery of the final twenty minutes of the match. Frank Klopas was dismissed in the 93rd minute after Penso failed to whistle a fairly obvious foul against Sporting near the top of the penalty area and Gonzalo Segares was shown a second yellow card for a harmless foul in the 94th. MLS can't afford to cheapen their product with referees who are not up to par and Penso is one of those who should be shown the door.
Both Klopas and Segares will miss the Fire's next match on Wednesday night against Philadelphia. While this game didn't provide the outcome supporters were hoping for the Fire can still finish the season strong heading into the playoffs if they take care of business on their end. This match simply proved that Sporting Kansas City is a dangerous club that has earned their current standing at the top of the East. Good teams win at home.
GK Sean Johnson (6) - Zusi converted on two well placed strikes and the final tally was scored as the Fire were pushing forward in the waning seconds. Johnson kept Sporting from taking a two goal lead with a spectacular save against Kamara in the 36th minute.
D Jalil Anibaba (6) - A decent effort for the second year right back although it appeared that he was beaten to the ball on Zusi's first goal. A closer look at the the development of the play shows that Anibaba didn't have much chance or time to react as Zusi found some space in front of the retreating back line. The goal was made by Kamara's run up the left side of the defense. He was stronger in the second half than he was in the first.
D Arne Friedrich (6) - Kansas City serves in cross after cross and the Fire's central defenders were up to the task most of the night. Also pushed forward several times and was able to generate some offense when the center of midfield could not.
D Austin Berry (6) - Kamara and Sapong are big, fast forwards who are difficult to deal with. Sporting scored twice but they didn't have many quality chances either despite the large edge in possession.
D Gonzalo Segares (5) - Beaten by Kamara on the play that led to the first goal. Gambled and tried to play the ball in the 11th minute which allowed Kamara to get behind him and streak towards goal. His second yellow card and dismissal was a pretty weak call.
M Logan Pause (5) - Decent in the first half but opposition once again had way too much of time on the ball. This match may have illustrated where the Fire miss Pavel Pardo for the first time since the veteran midfielder has been absent due to injury.
M Alex (5) - Pretty quiet night in his third consecutive start at the position. The Fire may have been playing too deep to really be effective in the first half thereby nullifying Alex somewhat.
M Patrick Nyarko (5) -Had a difficult time getting the space he's accustomed to creating with his skill on the ball. Credit to the Kansas City defense for neutralizing him but they did take a physical approach to stopping him.
M Alvaro Fernandez (5) - The Fire didn't get much out of the flanks where they needed to hurt Kansas City as their fullbacks pushed forward. Fernandez was one of the main culprits in the turnover fest that was the first half.
F Chris Rolfe (5) - Missed a good chance wide in the 6th minute that would have changed the match dramatically. Sporting physical style of defending and pressure moved Rolfe a little further into midfield than you would like and denied him the space the receive the ball in dangerous spots.
F Sherjill MacDonald (5) - There wasn't a whole lot from MacDonald as the Fire struggled to string enough passes together to get the ball up to their big forward.
F/M - Dominic Oduro (5) - Came in for Alex in the 61st minute moving Rolfe into the center spot of a 4-4-2 formation. This change opened up the match a little but failed to produce any big chances.
F Guillermo Franco (6) - Subbed in for Nyarko in the 71st and showed some flashes of what he might be able to provide in 20 minute spurts down the stretch. A fancy series of moves allowed the Fire to earn a corner kick in the 81st and he should have drawn a foul after being tripped from behind near the top of the penalty area in the 91st. Penso missed the call and missed yet another one minute later.
M Daniel Paladini (5) - Entered the match for Pause in the 80th as Klopas looked to get as much offense on the field as possible.
C Frank Klopas (5) - Didn't get a result in this one and things weren't pretty in the first half. Give Kansas City credit but Klopas wasn't happy with the way the match ended. There's still time to make up ground on KC and one loss on the road shouldn't be overblown.