Marco Pappa's goal proved to be enough for the Chicago Fire on Friday night at Livestrong Sporting Park, but that was only because of Sean Johnson. The young Fire goalkeeper made a slew of tremendous saves to keep Sporting Kansas City off of the scoreboard and deliver the visiting Fire a valuable 1-0 win.
The Fire's game plan from the beginning was to defend in numbers and counterattack, and it worked perfectly, but only thanks to Johnson. The goalkeeper turned away Kei Kamara and Aurelien Collin in the first half to keep Sporting off of the board at halftime.
In the 56th minute, Chicago broke through. Their counterattack saw Pappa in the middle, where he pushed the Sporting defense back before feeding Chris Rolfe on the left. Rolfe then passed back to Pappa, who smartly finished, and the visitors were ahead.
Once down a goal, Kansas City turned the pressure on. They poured forward and created chance after chance. Johnson was forced into a fine save of Kamara 15 minutes from time and the last five minutes and stoppage time brought more chances. Some of those chances were wasted by Sporting, who missed the frame on a few occasions, but even when they were on target, Johnson was there. He made a good save on Soony Saad in stoppage time and then one more on Kamara just before the final whistle.
In the end, Sporting outshot the Fire 22-7, but it didn't matter. Pappa had the goal and Johnson was tremendous to lead Chicago to a win.