Sporting Kansas City's Rivalry Week opponent has no shortage of incredible moments from the past.
This week's video replay is all about the Chicago Fire.
|Series Recap: Chicago Fire
|First Played||April 8, 1998|
|Home games:||8-7-7 (33 GF, 37 GA)|
|Road games:||3-15-2 (19 GF, 43 GA)|
Video Replay #1:
September 28, 2012 Sporting KC 2, Chicago 0
It is rare to have this much drama leading into a regular season game. A stadium-record 21,010 fans showed up to witness this late-season match saw two teams atop the Eastern Conference standings and peaking at the same time.
Sporting had not lost in eight games, and needed a win against Chicago to open a gap between themselves and the rest of the conference. The late season star was Graham Zusi, who had one goal and five assists in his previous six games for Kansas City .
Chicago entered the game with a four-game winning streak in regular season play and a four-game winning streak against Sporting Kansas City. A win and Chicago would move into first place. Its late season star was Fire mainstay Chris Rolfe, who had three goals and an assist in the month of September.
Unlike the heartache from previous games, this would be a celebration for Sporting fans. Graham Zusi would register a brace: a nice cross-body shot that would open scoring in the 11th minute, and a second goal in the final moments of the game. In between Sporting would dominate the game, not allowing them to register a shot on goal until the 68th minute. Good times.
Video Replay #2:
May 12, 2012 Chicago 2, Sporting KC 1
As the all-time record suggests, road wins have been in short supply for Kansas City. This is particularly true in recent years due to the play of its goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Over the course of a year Johnson can be maddeningly inconsistent, but he seems to save his best efforts against Sporting Kansas City. With Sporting KC up 1-0 late in the first half, Roger Espinoza unleashed a rocket that was incredibly saved by the young keeper. Johnson instinctively shot his hand up, sending Espinoza's chance to the crossbar and over the net. The save kept Chicago in the game, and offered the Fire an opportunity to pull out the win after a second half collapse by Sporting KC. Bad times.
Video Replay #3:
June 9, 2011 Sporting KC 0, Chicago 0
The opening of (then) Livestrong Sporting Park was memorable in many ways. Fans were awed by the bright lights and beautiful amenities of the new stadium, so the game could have gone off without recalling who SKC played or what happened. Instead, fans witnessed one of the most bizarre games in recent memory.
An uncharacteristic poor decision by Jimmy Neilsen to play a ball with his hands outside the box would send him the goalkeeper off with a red card. An 11-on-10 Sporting side still continued to attack, but were undone by referee decisions on two golden chances. A debatable offsides call disallowed a Graham Zusi goal early on. Later, referee Michael Kennedy's decision not to award a penalty kick after a takedown of KC's Omar Bravo (skip directly to the takedown HERE) is arguably the ugliest non-call in Sporting KC history. The scoreless draw with Chicago would leave many fans unhappy, but the stadium experience would keep many coming back.
October 15, 2000 MLS Cup: Kansas City Wizards 1, Chicago 0 (in Washington D.C.)
We cap Video Replay by the greatest moment in Wizards history: winning MLS Cup 2000. Kansas City and Chicago were the best teams in the league in 2000, both earning 57 points on the season. Chicago Fire, led by future USMNT coach Bob Bradley, came into MLS Cup with the best offense in the league. The Fire scored 67 goals during the 32-game regular season and found the net 15 times in the postseason on their way to the finals in Washington, D.C.
In contrast, the 2000 Wizards were one of the greatest defensive sides in MLS history. The team recorded 20 shutouts in the regular season and postseason going into the final. This is even more impressive when you consider that quality defense was a rarity in the early years of the league. The Wizards star was Tony Meola, 2000 MVP and Goalkeeper of the Year.
The Wizards opened scoring when Miklos Molnar found the back of the net in the 11th minute after a failed clearance by Fire midfielder (and future Montréal Impact coach) Jesse Marsch.What followed was a thrilling game where the Fire repeatedly attacked the goal, only to be rebuffed by the Wizards defense. KC held on to win, giving the team its only postseason trophy so far.
Original video courtesy MLS and MLSsoccer.com.
Any thoughts on the highlights? What are your favorite past moments with Chicago Fire? Comment below!