Russell scores but Sporting KC lose with opportunity to close gap on first place

Sporting KC

VANCOUVER — With first place Seattle Sounders and third place Colorado Rapids losing on Saturday, second place Sporting Kansas City had the opportunity to increase their lead over the Rapids and close the gap to two points on the Sounders.

After giving up two first-half goals to Vancouver, Sporting KC was unable to claw back despite a strike from captain Johnny Russell to end the half.

“It’s a disappointing night. We continue to, defensively as a team, allow cheap goals and put ourselves in a hole in games,” Russell said. “We’re always fighting back. It’s a frustrating night, especially with the results yesterday and having an opportunity like we did.”

Russell scored in his franchise-record sixth consecutive match and forward Dániel Sallói added to his assist total as he continues his MVP campaign.

Sporting remain second in the west just one point ahead of Colorado and five behind Seattle. A victory Sunday night would have set up the chance to take first place from Seattle on Saturday night as the two meet for the third time this season.

Seattle clinched the playoffs last week and Kansas City is one win away from securing a spot mathematically.

“You expect the other team to assert themselves on their home field. They have to be good,” manager Peter Vermes said. “But at the same time, we had chances where we did break them down, but we just didn’t go with the zest that you need to in a game like this.”

There are five games remaining in the regular season as Sporting looks to make a deep playoff run. All remaining games are Western Conference opponents with three of the games on the road.

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