KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Johnny Russell converted a perfect pass from Graham Zusi for a goal in the 80th minute as host Sporting Kansas City defeated Minnesota United 1-0 Sunday night.
Sporting KC (6-3-2, 20 points) moved to the top of the Western Conference standings.
Zusi lofted a pass up the middle from 20 yards shy of midfield and found Russell even with the four-man back line of Minnesota. Russell collected the ball, gathered himself and left-footed it past Minnesota keeper Dayne St. Clair.
First place was on the line as both clubs trailed Seattle by one point heading into the match. It appeared for much of the match that neither side would leave happy.
Sporting KC controlled the pace almost from the beginning but had nothing to show for it. They controlled more than 60 percent of possession and finished with a 21-6 edge in shots. The 21st shot connected.
Minnesota (5-4-2, 17 points), which was without several offensive players, had trouble mounting much of an attack. The Loons picked up the pace following Russell's goal, but the Sporting defense kept them away from keeper Tim Melia and the SKC net.
Sporting KC had earned a total of only two points in four matches (two draws and two losses) since their 2-1 road victory against Minnesota on Aug. 21. Sporting remains the only MLS club not to suffer a shutout in 2020.
Minnesota had won two straight after a four-game losing streak that included the home loss to Sporting Kansas City.
An aggressive start saw both teams leave scoring opportunities wanting. Sporting had five shots in the first nine minutes.
SKC kept up the pressure, holding nearly 70 percent of the possession in the first 30 minutes with eight shots compared with just one for Minnesota.
By halftime, Sporting owned a 15-1 advantage in shots, including 5-0 in shots on goal, plus a 64-36 advantage in possession.