KANSAS CITY -- With a 2-0 defeat of the Chicago Fire Friday at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Sporting Kansas City clinched a postseason berth and extended their Eastern Conference advantage to five points.
In the 11th minute, midfielder Graham Zusi connected with a right-footer into the right side of the goal from 12 yards out. Attacker Kei Kamara out-ran defender Gonzalo Segares down the right side of the pitch, drawing the Chicago defense towards him before delivering a sharp crossing pass into the middle of the penalty area. Kamara collected his sixth assist of the season, second on the team behind Zusi.
After a defensive mistake by Chicago, Zusi sealed the win with a drive from the top of the penalty area in extra time, just moments before the final whistle. The right-footed blast into the right side of the net was his fifth score of the season.
The victory, Kansas City's first over Chicago since a 2-0 win at Toyota Park in October, 2010, and their first home win against the Fire since 2007, gave Sporting (17-7-7) 58 points on the season and expanded their lead over second-place Fire (16-9-5) to five points with just three matches left in the regular season.
Chicago's loss denied them an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot and snapped a four-game winning streak which saw them climb from fifth place in the Eastern Conference to within two points of the lead. With four games to play, the Fire still enjoy a three-point advantage over both the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United.
It was Sporting's second victory in their last three contests against second-place conference foes. Kansas City took a 2-0 win at New York September 19 over the then-second-place Red Bulls.
Chicago saw precious few scoring opportunities after missing an early chance when Chris Rolfe's one-timer from 20 yards out went just wide of the right post. The Fire had no shots on goal until putting their lone shot on frame in the 68th minute as Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was never really challenged in converting his league-leading 15th shutout and his third consecutive white-washing.
Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was called upon to make four saves, including a difficult chance in the 36th minute when he parried Kamara's close header into the crossbar to deny Sporting a 2-0 lead.
Kansas City outshot Chicago 16-9 in front of a stadium record crowd of 21,010, marking their 14th straight sellout.
Chicago next faces conference rival Philadelphia on Wednesday in Chicago before travelling to New York for a crucial Eastern Conference matchup with the Red Bulls the following Saturday.