Mike Magee scored twice as the Chicago Fire beat Sporting Kansas City at Toyota Park on Sunday.
Both of Magee’s strikes came from early penalties and the Fire just about managed to hold on for the win. Dom Dwyer netted the only response from Sporting, who had debutant Erik Palmer-Brown sent off.
Chicago were buoyed by their thrilling 5-4 win at the New York Red Bulls a week ago – their first of the season. The Wizards, on the other hand, had suffered a shock home defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Union in midweek, and came here without World Cup duo Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.
And they made the worst possible start.
Just six minutes in, last week’s Fire hat-trick hero Harry Shipp played a wonderful pass in behind to expose the makeshift Kansas City defence. Quincy Amarikwa got a toe on the ball before being taken down by Eric Kronberg, and referee Jose Carlos Rivero pointed to the spot.
Magee has endured a tough start to the season, but he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to put Chicago in front.
In their next attack, the home side were awarded another penalty. Benji Joya got the better of Palmer-Brown and was hauled down by the 17-year-old. Magee went the same way again, with the same outcome.
Sporting looked to make an immediate outcome and almost did through Dwyer. The Wizards’ top-scorer raced clear after a superb Igor Juliao pass and slotted past Sean Johnson, but saw the ball bounce back out off the foot of the post.
The Fire retained an attacking interest though, seeing Amarikwa go close having worked space on the edge of the area.
The game then settled down with both sides struggling to create clear-cut opportunities, and the score-line still read 2-0 as Rivero blew for half-time. Seven minutes after the break, some neat play from the visitors saw Paulo Nagamura create an opening for Claudio Bieler, who smashed into the side netting.
In the 64th minute, Palmer-Brown’s horror-show debut reached its conclusion as he saw red for a second bookable offence after a wild swipe at Amarikwa. That only seemed to spur Kansas City on though, and Dwyer brought them back into the game with a bullet header from Benny Feilhaber’s curling free-kick for his eighth of the season.
Having seen two awards at the other end, Sporting wanted a penalty in the 74th minute for a push on Kevin Ellis from a threatening long throw, but the referee was unmoved.
Magee was then presented with an opportunity to clinch his hat-trick after a defensive mix-up by the Wizards. He bore down on goal, but Kronberg made two terrific blocks to keep his side in the match.
He was almost made to pay immediately as a dangerous ball was played across Chicago’s six-yard box with Ricketts stranded, but Dwyer couldn’t make contact.
Though the spirited ten men continued to attack, they couldn’t find a breakthrough and were grateful to Kronberg who made two late saves but couldn't prevent his team falling to a second consecutive defeat. Sporting slipped down to second in the East while Chicago climbed up to eighth.
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