(March 16, 2013) -- Sporting Kansas City drew 0-0 with the Chicago Fire in front of a sold-out crowd on Saturday afternoon at Sporting Park. Despite controlling nearly 75% of the game's possession and outshooting the Fire 20-7, Sporting Kansas City settled with a scoreless draw in their 2013 home opener.
Eight minutes in, midfielder Oriol Rosell played a through ball to C.J. Sapong who attempted to slip it past Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, but the 23-year-old U.S. Men's National Team player beat him to it.
Three minutes later, Chicago responded when midfielder Daniel Paladini crossed the ball to Chris Rolfe in the center and his shot glanced just wide of the far post. Two minutes later, a heavily guarded Sapong passed the ball from the top of the box to Mechack Jerome, but his right-footed strike was claimed by Johnson.
With ten minutes left in the first half, defender Aurelien Collin nearly directed his header past Johnson after winning a Graham Zusi corner kick in the air, but his attempt went just wide of the post. Two minutes later, Zusi sent in another corner that Argentinian striker Claudio Bieler sent just wide of the goal.
Two minutes into first-half stoppage time, Paulo Nagamura found space 25 yards out and struck the ball narrowly wide of the left post.
The second half commenced with a noteworthy chance from Seth Sinovic just a minute into play when he took a shot from the left edge of the box that Johnson parried away. Nagamura struck another impressive shot from 35 yards out in the 54th minute, but Johnson did well to block the attempt on goal.
Ten minutes later, a volley from Rosell cleared the crossbar. Sporting KC continued to put the pressure on the Fire in the 75th minute when Nagamura chipped the ball to Sapong, whose low shot was saved easily by Johnson. Three minutes later, second-half substitute Soony Saad drove the ball down the left flank and took a shot from 15 yards, but it was just wide of the near post.
With six minutes left in the game, Sapong evaded three Fire players, and tipped the ball to Zusi, but the midfielder's shot sailed high of the crossbar.
In the 90th minute of the match, goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen made a stellar save to keep a clean sheet when Rolfe played a through ball to an unmarked Palidini. Nielsen quickly came off of his line to make a sliding save.
Sporting Kansas City, now unbeaten in their last eight home MLS matches (including playoffs), will return to the road to face the New England Revolution at 3 p.m. CT on Sat., March 23 at Gillette Stadium. The match will be broadcast live on KSMO-TV.
- Sporting Kansas City logged a season-high 608 total passes on Saturday to Chicago's 221. Prior to Saturday, Sporting Kansas City averaged 466.5 total passes in the team's two previous MLS matches.
- Sporting Kansas City controlled 73% of the possession in Saturday's match to Chicago's 27%.
- A capacity crowd of 19,868 attended Saturday's match, marking the 17th straight sellout at Sporting Park in MLS competition (including playoffs).
- Graham Zusi was credited with six key passes on Saturday. No other player on the field logged more than two key passes.
- Zusi was credited with 14 total crosses on Saturday, double the number of the next closest player which was Mechack Jerome with seven.
- Zusi attempted seven corner kicks on Saturday, increasing his League lead to 18 in the category.
- Matt Besler won six aerial duels on Saturday, most of all players on the field. Mechack Jerome and C.J. Sapong tied for second most aerial duels won with four.
- Claudio Bieler attempted four shots on Saturday, a season-high for a Sporting KC player in 2013.
- Graham Zusi and C.J. Sapong suffered five fouls on Saturday, tying Claudio Bieler's mark for the most fouls suffered by a Sporting KC player this season.
- Sporting Kansas City's 20 shots on Saturday was a season high, as was the team's 20 fouls suffered.
- Sporting Kansas City allowed only one shot on goal on Saturday, a season low.
- Chicago's seven shots and one shot on goal matched their season lows in both categories on Saturday.
- Chicago made two changes to their starting lineup from last week's loss against the New England Revolution. Michael Videira replaced Steven Kinney and Daniel Paladini came in for Joel Lindpere.
- Lindpere had started 91 consecutive MLS regular season games prior to Saturday.
- Sporting Kansas City changed the team's starting lineup for the first time in 2013, making two personnel swaps. Mechack Jerome made his first MLS start in place of Chance Myers (quad strain) and C.J. Sapong replaced Bobby Convey.
- Jerome had logged one minute of MLS action, a stoppage-time appearance in the season opener, prior to Saturday.
- Myers (right quad strain) missed his first MLS match since a 2-1 win over D.C. United on August 11, 2012.
- Jimmy Nielsen has appeared in 64 straight MLS matches, including postseason, for Sporting Kansas City, dating back to June 12, 2011. The streak covers a span of 5,760 straight minutes of MLS action.
- Nielsen's appearance on Saturday broke a tie with Bo Oshoniyi for second most in team history by a goalkeeper with 97.
- Jimmy Nielsen became the oldest goalkeeper in club history to record a shutout at 35 years, 7 months and 11 days, breaking the mark set by Tony Meola (35 years, 147 days) on July 17, 2004.
- Matt Besler, the reigning MLS Defender of the Year, has started and played the full 90 minutes in each of the club's last 23 MLS matches (including postseason).
- Mikey Lopez made the gameday 18 for the first time since being drafted in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft out of the University of North Carolina.
- Sporting Kansas City has gone 68 consecutive MLS matches (including playoffs) without conceding a goal on a corner kick, dating back to May 21, 2011 at Seattle.
- Sporting Kansas City has recorded the most shots by a team in MLS history with 7,234.
- Sporting Kansas City is 213-207-110 all-time in the MLS regular season and 141-75-48 at home in club history.
- Sporting Kansas City is 11-2-5 all-time in home openers with just one loss to open a home schedule in the last 14 years (2009).
- Sporting Kansas City has opened their home schedule against the Chicago Fire on five occasions, yielding a 1-1-3 record in those meetings. The Fire were on hand for the grand opening of Sporting Park as the two squads played to a 0-0 draw June 9, 2011.
- Saturday's match was part of Major League Soccer's Rivalry Week.
- Saturday's match was the earliest home match in club history, breaking the mark set a year ago when Sporting Kansas City opened their home schedule on March 17.
- Sporting Kansas City is 9-7-2 in the month of March all-time.
- Sporting Kansas City will next play the New England Revolution at 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 23 at Gillette Stadium.
- Former Kansas City and Chicago defender Brandon Prideaux attended Saturday's match with his family. Prideaux started and played every game for the 2000 MLS Cup champion Wizards, when they defeated Chicago 1-0 in the finals.
- Sporting Kansas City is 33-10-19 in MLS regular season matches since Sporting Park opened in June 2011.
- Sporting KC is 19-5-11 at Sporting Park in MLS regular season matches.
- Saturday's match was the first of eight games for Sporting KC on the NBC Sports Network this season. J.P. Dellacamera, Robbie Earle and Rob Orlin were the talent for Saturday's broadcast.
- Chicago travelled approximately 185 supporters for Saturday's match at Sporting Park.
- Saturday's match is the first of three meetings this season between the Fire and Sporting KC. The Fire host the second and third legs of the series at Toyota Park on July 7 (ESPN) and Aug. 23 (NBC Sports Network).
- Sporting KC is 11-23-10 all-time against Chicago in the regular season. The series is deadlocked 8-8-2 in home matches for Sporting KC.
- In 2012, Sporting KC and Chicago allowed the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference.
- Fire head coach Frank Klopas played in Kansas City from 1996-97, tallying seven goals and 11 assists over 54 matches.
- Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes and Chicago Manager Frank Klopas represented the United States National Team eight times together from 1988-1994. The U.S. went 3-3-2 in those matches.
- Chicago has gone 270 minutes without scoring a goal to open the 2013 MLS season.
- Referee Silviu Petrescu was the 2012 MLS Referee of the Year and officiated the 2012 MLS Cup.
- Forward Kei Kamara, on loan from Sporting Kansas City to Norwich City through May 6, made his first EPL start last Saturday and Norwich City will play Sunderland on Sunday.
- Sporting Kansas City was without Kei Kamara (loan), Teal Bunbury (disabled list), Jacob Peterson (disabled list), Chance Myers (injury) and Peterson Joseph (injury) on Saturday.
- Sporting Kansas City loaned four additional players (Yann Songo'o, Dom Dwyer, Jon Kempin and Christian Duke) to the team's USL PRO affiliate Orlando City SC on Thursday. All four played for Orlando City on Saturday in a pre-season scrimmage, with Dwyer drawing a penalty kick in the first half and scoring in the second half.
- Sporting Kansas City leads all teams with the most fouls suffered (58).
- Peter Vermes, in his fifth season as the Sporting KC Manager, has a .544 career winning percentage which is the best mark for a Sporting KC coach all-time (46-36-31).
- Sporting Kansas City has the most draws in MLS history with 110.
- Sporting Kansas City is unbeaten at home in their last eight MLS matches, including postseason.
- Jimmy Nielsen has the best career winning percentage for a KC goalkeeper in club history (.563).
- Jimmy Nielsen recorded his first shutout of the season and 33rd of his MLS career on Saturday.
- Nielsen's 1.02 career goals against average is the best for a goalkeeper in MLS history with a minimum of 4,000 minutes played.
- Saturday's match was presented by Kickstart by Mountain Dew and 10,000 Kickstart by Mountain Dew mini-scarves will be distributed at the match.
- Sporting Kansas City Under-12 Academy player Luke Rafanan was recognized at Saturday's match as a special guest in the Victory Suite. Luke is currently undergoing radiation treatment for cancer in his lungs and throat after doctors discovered the cancerous cells last year.
Postgame comments from Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes, Chicago Fire Manager Frank Klopas and players from both teams will be available online on SportingKC.com later this evening.
Sporting Park | Kansas City, Kan.
Attendance: 19,868 (sell-out)
Weather: 44 degrees and cloudy
Video: Match Highlights
Score 1 2 F
Sporting Kansas City (1-1-1) 0 0 0
Chicago Fire (0-2-1) 0 0 0
Sporting Kansas City : Jimmy Nielsen (c); Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Mechack Jerome; Oriol Rosell, Benny Feilhaber (Soony Saad 77); Paulo Nagamura; C.J. Sapong 46, Claudio Bieler, Graham Zusi
Subs not used: Eric Kronberg, Bobby Convey, Mikey Lopez, Ike Opara, Josh Gardner, Lawrence Olum
Chicago Fire: Sean Johnson; Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares, Michael Videira (Wells Thompson 83), Jalil Anibaba; Dan Paladini, Jeff Larentowicz, Dilly Duka (Alex 59), Chris Rolfe, Patrick Nyarko; Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos 67)
Subs not used: Hunter Jumper, Quincy Amarikwa, Paolo Tornaghi, Joel Lindpere
Stats KC CHI
Shots 20 7
Shots on Goal 3 1
Saves 1 3
Fouls 14 20
Offside 0 5
CHI -- Daniel Paladini (caution; reckless tackle) 41
KC -- Seth Sinovic (caution; tactical foul) 47
CHI -- Gonzalo Segares (caution; reckless foul) 77
CHI -- Maicon Santos (caution; delaying a restart) 84
CHI -- Chris Rolfe (caution; simulation) 91+
KC -- Oriol Rosell (caution; reckless foul) 93+