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Croizet's 2nd-half tally sparks Sporting KC past Loons

Minnesota United FC midfielder Rasmus Schuller (20) goes in for a slide tackle against Sporting KC forward Gerso Fernandes (12) during the first half at Children's Mercy Park. Peter G. Aiken / USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Kan.—Yohan Croizet came off the bench to score early in the second half to spark Sporting Kansas City to 2-0 victory over visiting Minnesota United at Children's Mercy Park on Saturday, Aug. 25.

Tim Melia made eight saves as SKC (13-6-6 , 45 points) won their fourth straight, all by shutout. He made diving stops on Abu Danladi in the 76th minute and second-half stoppage time and Angelo Rodriguez in the 79th minute for his Major League Soccer-best 11th shutout.

Johnny Russell assisted on Croizet's goal in the 47th minute and Diego Rubio's in the 62nd as SKC established their longest winning streak since 2014.

Minnesota (9-15-2, 29 points) has four losses and a tie in the past five matches.

After a sluggish first half, Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes at halftime swapped midfielders, with Croizet replacing Felipe Gutierrez. It took just over 90 seconds for the move to pay dividends.

Russell made an entry pass to Croizet at the top of the box. Croizet turned to create space and fired a shot that beat Bobby Shuttleworth at the near post for his second goal.

Russell's eighth assist of the season had a familiar ending. He found Rubio just outside the penalty area, and the Chilean midfielder took two touches before scoring to the far post. It was the fifth time on his seven goals that it came on his first shot.

Rubio leads MLS in goal-scoring efficiency with a score every 74.7 minutes, ahead of Atlanta United's star striker Josef Martinez (78.3).

Sporting Kansas City's next match is Saturday, Sept. 1, at Seattle.

When Minnesota next plays Wednesday, Sept. 12, at D.C. United, it will be missing Francisco Calvo and Michael Boxall because of yellow card accumulations. Calvo received a caution in the 50th minute; Boxall was booked two minutes later.