Sporting Kansas City vs. Toronto FC | MLS Match Preview

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs TORONTO FC
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
July 13, 2013 (WEEK 20, MLS Game #180) 7:30 p.m. CT (KSMO; SNet Ont)

Sporting Kansas City return home with their current undefeated run intact when they take on a Toronto FC side looking for wins as the two clubs meet Saturday evening at Sporting Park. SKC are unbeaten in four games, coming off a 2-1 win at the Chicago Fire last weekend. TFC return to action after a weekend off, hauled back into a 3-3 home draw with the Montréal Impact in their last match.

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REFEREE: Kevin Stott. AR1 (bench): Greg Barkey; AR2 (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Daniel Radford
MLS Career: 235 games; FC/gm: 25.6; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 59; pens: 50

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Aurelien Collin … TOR: Darel Russell
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Seth Sinovic … TOR: Doneil Henry, Darren O’Dea, Matias Laba
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: KC: Mechack Jerome (HAI); Peterson Joseph (HAI) … TOR: Kyle Bekker (CAN), Doneil Henry (CAN), Ashtone Morgan (CAN), Jonathan Osorio (CAN)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (16 meetings): Sporting 8 wins, 20 goals … Toronto FC 4 wins, 12 goals … Ties 4
AT KC (8 meetings): Sporting 6 wins, 17 goals … Toronto FC 1 win, 7 goals … Ties 1
FUTURE MATCH: 9/21: Toronto FC vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4 p.m. ET

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Robert Earnshaw scored a pair of goals in the first half to lead Toronto FC to a 2-1 victory March 9 at BMO Field.
  • The victory in the first meeting snapped a Sporting four-game winning streak and seven-game undefeated streak in the series. It was the first TFC victory since a 1-0 win April 26, 2009 at BMO Field.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. TOR: P8 W5 L1 D2 … Ryan Nelsen vs. KC: P1 W1 L0 D0

LAST MEETING
3/9: TOR 2, KC 1 (Earnshaw 3, 21 – Bieler 77)

  • Toronto FC took the lead after just three minutes. Matt Besler's pass to fellow defender Aurélien Collin was intercepted by Robert Earnshaw, and he clinically finished past helpless SKC 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
  • The home side doubled their lead shortly thereafter. SKC midfielder Paulo Nagamura tripped up newly acquired Toronto midfielder John Bostock in the box, and Earnshaw stepped up and used a cool stutter-step to catch Nielsen wrong-footed from the penalty spot in the 21st minute.
  • Sporting pulled a goal back in the 77th minute when halftime substitute C.J. Sapong flicked a long free kick from goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen on to Claudio Bieler, who split the TFC defense and blasted the ball past Toronto 'keeper Joe Bendik for his second goal in as many games.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Richard Eckersley, Darren O'Dea, Danny Califf, Ashtone Morgan - John Bostock (Darel Russell 85), Jeremy Hall, Terry Dunfield (Jonathan Osorio 82), Reggie Lambe - Hogan Ephraim (Kyle Bekker 87), Robert Earnshaw.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber (Soony Saad 82) - Graham Zusi, Claudio Bieler, Bobby Convey (C.J. Sapong 46).

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City stretched their undefeated streak to four games, defeating the Chicago Fire 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. Sporting are in second place in the Eastern Conference with 30 points from 18 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting were up by two goals on the road before the game was 10 minutes old. A long throw-in from the left flank bounced around the heart of the area and Benny Feilhaber volleyed a blast from the edge of the box that hit the left-hand post and flew behind goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.
  • Two minutes later, Graham Zusi doubled the advantage when he collected a pass from Seth Sinovic well outside the left corner of the penalty area and curled a shot -- or perhaps an over-hit cross -- into the upper corner of the goal.
  • The Fire pulled a goal back in the 38th minute, when Jeff Larentowicz won a header near the center circle which bounced all the way through to Mike Magee. He was alone through on goal and calmly placed a shot past Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
  • The Fire finished the game a man down after midfielder Daniel Paladini was shown a straight red card for a tackle from behind on SKC's Dom Dwyer in the midfield.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Sporting Park. Benny Feilhaber came into the midfield for Soony Saad, and Seth Sinovic replaced Kevin Ellis in the back four.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Lawrence Olum (Dom Dwyer 83), Oriol Rosell - Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber (Soony Saad 52), Kei Kamara - Claudio Bieler (Teal Bunbury 73).

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting extended their undefeated streak away from Sporting Park to four matches, while also extending their overall undefeated streak to four games.
  • “We go about our business with a lot of consistency. Sometimes you fall out of form a little bit and it all depends on how fast you get back into form. I think the good thing is the guys are committed to working towards that,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes.
  • Benny Feilhaber scored his first goal for Sporting Kansas City, his first goal since last June 2, when he scored for the New England Revolution, also against the Chicago Fire. It also brought reminders of a famous goal he scored in Chicago to give the U.S. national team victory in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
  • “He did a good job tactically in the game as well, in his position and in the way we were trying to play,” Vermes said. “He helped us quite a bit.”
  • Feilhaber was making his first start since May 19, and played 52 minutes before coming off for Soony Saad. Lawrence Olum made his third consecutive start in the deeper-lying midfield role alongside Oriol Rosell.
  • “Our tactics were a little different, playing away from home against a team like Chicago who has been playing really well the last month or two. We wanted to draw them out and get the chances on the break,” said Feilhaber. “I think we did well, and we stuck to the game plan. We were able to hold the result because we were able to play a really good second half as well.”
  • Graham Zusi scored his fourth goal of the league campaign, but it was his first in nearly two months, since a goal May 5 in a 4-0 win vs. Chivas USA. “I’m not sure if he was crossing it or shooting it, but it went into the back of the net and we need to get those sometimes,” said Vermes.
  • Seth Sinovic returned to left back after a match out of the lineup and recorded his second assist of the season.
  • “Everybody was good on the back four,” Vermes said. “[Olum] was getting a little tired, Claudio's been in every game the last nine days, and Benny's definitely not ready to do 90 in this environment. At the end, Lo was getting some cramps, so we switched to a 4-4-2 to help ourselves out, and at times even a 4-5-1.”

READ: Out-of-favor C.J. Sapong: "I don't put much into" loan to Orlando City SC

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC return to action after a weekend off, their last match a 3-3 draw with the Montréal Impact on July 3 at BMO Field. TFC sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 13 points from 17 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The opening goal came only 23 seconds into the match – the fifth-fastest in league history – when Andres Romero took advantage of a defensive error by TFC captain Darren O’Dea and hammered home a shot from inside the penalty area.
  • TFC answered back five minutes later when Jeremy Brockie hit a well-placed shot through in traffic in the Montreal box. The Reds then took the lead in the 21st minute when Brockie delivered a cross that central defender Steven Caldwell powerfully headed past Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
  • Toronto FC made it 3-1 three minutes later when O’Dea latched onto a return pass and made a forceful run into the Impact box before blasting a powerful shot into the bottom right corner.
  • But the Impact stormed back to tie the game with two goals less than a minute apart. In the 69th minute, Hassoun Camara chased down a bouncing ball in the box after heading down a long pass and put it past Toronto ’keeper Joe Bendik. Then a minute later, Felipe found a hard-charging Marco Di Vaio making a run to the far side of the box, and the Italian striker buried a shot past Bendik.
  • TFC boss Ryan Nelsen made four changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Real Salt Lake at BMO Field. Gale Agbossoumonde came in for the suspended Doneil Henry, Reggie Lambe and Darel Russell came into the midfield for Jonathan Osorio and Jeremy Hall, and Luis Silva started up top for Danny Koevermans.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Ryan Richter, Steven Caldwell, Gale Agbossoumonde, Darren O'Dea - Reggie Lambe (Danny Koevermans 84), Darel Russell (Jeremy Hall 77), Matias Laba, Bobby Convey - Luis Silva (Justin Braun 75), Jeremy Brockie.

READ: Can TFC make the playoffs this season? "Of course," says bullish manager Nelsen

TEAM NEWS

  • The three goals scored were a season-high for Toronto FC, but the three goals conceded were also a seasonhigh.
  • “Our reaction [after the opening goal] for the next 70 minutes was brilliant,” TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said. “Am I happy? No, of course not. Especially when you play that well for 70 minutes and then give it up. We also haven’t conceded three goals all season. I’m extremely disappointed about that. That hurts me horrendously.”
  • TFC have now won just once in their last 15 league games, and have won twice in their last 31 league games dating back to last July 28 (2-18-11 in that span).
  • “[Montréal is] the best team in the East,” Nelsen said. “They are full of very experienced players and they punished naïve mistakes by us. We have a rookie right back and a rookie center back and then you look at the experience on their backline. We are a young team that was playing against an experienced veteran team.”
  • Making his second consecutive start, striker Jeremy Brockie scored his first MLS goal and also added an assist.
  • “I guess scoring three goals is a pretty big positive. I think it’s the first time we scored three goals all season but then again it’s also the first time we’ve conceded three goals all season,” said Brockie. “There was some good playing that first half and unfortunately for one reason or another we came out in the second half and still created chances.”
  • Bobby Convey recorded his first assist since coming to Toronto FC, in his fifth consecutive start in a wide midfield role.
  • Darren O’Dea scored his first goal since joining Toronto FC for the 2012 season.
  • After two matches out of the team, Robert Earnshaw has returned to full training and could be available for the Kansas City match. However, after coming off the substitutes’ bench vs. Montréal following his first start of the season, Danny Koevermans could be out for the SKC game.
  • “Earnshaw is fit and good and looking sharp,” Nelsen said Tuesday. “He is back and he will be available for selection on Saturday. Koevs kind of felt his calf yesterday at training, so we have to be precautionary with him.” Said Earnshaw: “I feel really good. I trained yesterday, which was a tough session. Today was tough as well but not as tough. My calf feels good. I’m getting there and I’m ready."
  • There are further shortages up top, after striker Luis Silva was dealt to D.C. United. Jonathan Osorio is with the Canadian national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
  • “It is a wee bit awkward and the timing is not great, but we had to make a move,” Nelsen said. “It was pretty much only on the table for a short time and we kind of had to do it. Obviously we might be hurting for one or two games, but in the long run it will benefit the club.”