By Tod Palmer, Special to the Tribune
10:11 PM PDT, September 28, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Sporting Kansas City doused the scorching-hot Fire attack Friday night and prevented coach Frank Klopas' side from vaulting into first place in MLS' Eastern Conference.
The Fire, 16-9-5, had scored at least two goals in eight straight MLS matches and hadn't been shutout since a one-goal road loss July 18 to the Red Bulls, but the league's best defensive team got an early lead and put the clamps on the rest of the way for a 2-0 victory at Livestrong Sporting Park.
"We started the game well and had the one very good opportunity from Chris Rolfe that just missed wide, but that gave them a lot more energy," said Klopas, who was ejected in second-half stoppage time and faces a suspension for Wednesday's home match with Philadelphia. "I just didn't feel like the first half we got into any rhythm."
The Fire, who had won four straight and seven of their last eight league games, didn't muster a shot on goal until the 68th minute. In posting it's 14th shutout, Sporting KC has permitted a league-low 25 goals this season.
Rolfe had a rip that missed wide right in the sixth minute, but there weren't many other highlights for the Fire, who were outshot 16-9 overall and 6-1 in attempts on goal.
Five minutes later after Rolfe's try, Sporting KC got two spectacular goals from midfielder Graham Zusi, including one in the 11th minute off a bouncing cross from forward Kei Kamara.
"(Zusi) has been a big piece for this team the last couple years," Fire captain and midfielder Logan Pause said. "There's no secret to that, whether he's playing out wide or inside. You know he's a threat."
Zusi, who has six goals and leads MLS with 14 assists, added an insurance goal in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time.
"This was an important game, but it's over," Klopas said. "We have to learn from it and make sure what we feel stays with us tonight. But tomorrow's a new day."
It might have been worse were it not for goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who denied Kamara in the 36th minute with a reflex save. He pushed a header off a corner kick into the crossbar to preserve the one-goal deficit entering halftime.
Defender Gonzalo Segares will miss Wednesday's match the Union at Toyota Park after picking up yellow cards in the 72nd and 94th minutes.
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