MLS Focus: Johnny Russell puts on a show for Sporting KC

Scotsman Johnny Russell is quickly becoming a legend in Kansas City.

On Friday night, all he did was score three goals in the first 48 minutes, earn a penalty kick and get two Vancouver players sent off during an altercation at the end of the first half.

Sporting KC cruised to a 6-0 win over the Whitecaps to tie a club record for the largest margin of victory in club history. It would have set the record by Ilie Sanchez had his penalty kick following the foul by Marcel de Jong on Russell in the area saved by Vancouver goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.

Head coach Peter Vermes' reaction to Russell's performance? "He's starting to like this place, and that's a good thing."

Russell scored twice in the first 16 minutes and finished off his hat trick when he lobbed Martinovic from a tight angle in the 48th minute. The 28-year-old winger wasn't a one-man show, though.

Jimmy Medranda showed a golazo in the 30th minute to make the score 3-0, and Spaniard Cristian Lobato and Frenchman Yohan Croizet also got into act with their first goals of the season for Sporting KC, which opened up a seven-point lead in the Western Conference and extended its unbeaten streak to seven games after a defeat in its opening game.

The match was already out of hand when Sporting KC midfielders Yordy Reyna and Efrain Juarez were handed straight red cards in the 40th minute. Russell received a yellow card when he ran over to shove Vancouver captain Kendall Waston after the Costa Rican tackled Roger Espinoza and yelled at the Honduran on the ground. Juarez and Reyna got tossed for retaliating.

"He's been great for us," Espinoza said of his protector, "and I hope he keeps going with his streak."

Russell, who now has five goals and two assists since arriving from Derby County, exited the game to a standing ovation.

"He's getting his rhythm so it's good," added Vermes. "He was excellent tonight. But I have to say the team was very good and really locked in from the start of the game."
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