Apr 20, 2018; Kansas City, KS, USA; Sporting KC forward Johnny Russell (7) reacts after getting shoved to the ground by Vancouver Whitecaps forward Yordi Reyna (29) during the first half at Children's Mercy Park. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports
It was a wild night in Kansas City, with four players scoring goals and Johnny Russell netting a hat trick on the way to a 6-0 romp of Vancouver. Here are three things we learned from a crazy Friday in MLS.
Johnny Russell never scared
It was a sight to see: 5-foot-10 Johnny Russell launching himself into the chest of 6-foot-5 Kendall Waston. The moment escalated what might have been a yellow-card foul on Roger Espinoza into a full-fledged scrum that saw two Vancouver players ejected from the match and Russell himself earning a yellow. The Scot was breathing flames when he went at Waston. A much calmer Russell explained after the match that any teammate would have done it.
But the interaction also belied the whole night for Russell. He took defenders one-on-one. He attacked incessantly. His hat trick – half of Sporting’s six goals – wasn’t by accident. His fearless attitude was on full display Friday, both during play and extracurriculars.
Offensive flow ahead of schedule
There was some worry among Sporting Kansas City fans that the offense would lag without midfielder Felipe Gutierrez, whose creativity and slithery play has lit up the team this season. But playing against a Vancouver team that was third in the Western Conference, Kansas City squashed those doubts. Russell was otherworldly. Yohan Croizet had probably the best game of this season, notching an assist and goal. Jimmy Medranda, who has tallied a few wild shots this year, finally got the golazo he’s been looking for.
Passes were crisp and the offense flowed well, even before playing with a two-man advantage.
Yohan Croizet finds groove
Speaking of Croizet, the Frenchman had one of his better performances of the season. Fans have been antsy for him to contribute more, but the midfielder found a nice groove Friday. His assist led to Christian Lobato’s goal in the 54th minute and he finally scored his first goal since joining MLS this season.
Manager Peter Vermes always said it would take several games for all the new pieces Sporting added this year to mesh. With Croizet coming into his own, that’s a big piece of the puzzle.