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Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS Match Preview

CHICAGO FIRE vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
August 23, 2013 (WEEK 26, MLS Game #233) 7:30 p.m. CT (NBC SN)

The Chicago Fire and Sporting Kansas City meet for the third time this season, in a crucial match in the Eastern Conference before an NBC Sports Network audience on Friday evening at Toyota Park. The teams are separated by just eight points in the division standings, Sporting sitting in a tie atop the East, and the Fire three points out of a playoff position. Both clubs are coming off road defeats last weekend, the Fire losing 2-0 at New England, and Sporting dropping a 1-0 decision at San Jose.

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REFEREE: Mark Geiger. AR1 (bench): Adam Wienckowski; AR2 (opposite): Peter Balciunas; 4th: Edvin Jurisevic
MLS Career: 113 games; FC/gm: 26.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 28; pens: 37
 

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: CHI: Bakary Soumare (through Aug. 25); Frank Klopas (head coach; through Aug. 25)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic, Peterson Joseph
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Daniel Paladini, Bakary Soumare, Jeff Larentowicz, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares … KC: Lawrence Olum, Oriol Rosell, Benny Feilhaber, Claudio Bieler, Chance Myers
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (45 meetings): Fire 23 wins (1 shootout), 81 goals … Sporting 12 wins (0 shootout), 54 goals … Ties 10
AT CHICAGO (21 meetings): Fire 15 wins (0 shootout), 44 goals … Sporting 4 wins (0 shootout), 21 goals …Ties 2

2013 (MLS):
3/16: KC 0, CHI 0
7/7: CHI 1, KC 2 (Magee 38 – Feilhaber 6, Zusi 8)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. They reached a scoreless draw March 16 at Sporting Park, then on July 7 at Toyota Park, Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi scored in the game’s opening eight minutes to lead SKC to a 2-1 victory.
  • Kansas City has won three times on their last six trips to Bridgeview, dating back to 2008 – after winning at the Fire just once in the opening decade of the series between the clubs.
  • KC has twice defeated Chicago in a final – MLS Cup 2000 and the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
  • Coaches record: Frank Klopas vs. KC: P6 W2 L2 D2 … Peter Vermes v CHI: P10 W3 L4 D3

LAST MEETING (MLS):

  • 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.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Paolo Tornaghi - Jalil Anibaba, Bakary Soumare, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Patrick Nyarko (Joel Lindpere 72), Jeff Larentowicz, Alex (Daniel Paladini 46; ejected 89), Dilly Duka - Chris Rolfe (Sherjill MacDonald 61), Mike Magee.
  • 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).

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire saw their undefeated streak come to an end after four matches, dropping a 2-0 decision to the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. The Fire are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 31 points from 23 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Revolution went in front nine minutes after the halftime interval. Chris Tierney played a long diagonal over the top and Juan Agudelo raced behind the defense, spotted Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson adrift from his line and swept the ball over the top of him with an audacious backheel. The effort bounced over the line before Bakary Soumaré acrobatically cleared.
  • The second goal came in second-half stoppage time. Kelyn Rowe made no mistake in stoppage time when he pounced on a rebound in the box from a saved Saer Sene shot.
  • The Fire were without coach Frank Klopas, dismissed for the final 10 minutes of the affair. Sène and Soumaré both saw red cards after the match concluded for their roles in a post-match scuffle at midfield.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made two changes to the team that defeated the Montréal Impact 2-1 at Toyota Park. Arevalo Rios came into the midfield in place of Logan Pause, and Mike Magee returned up top in place of Alex.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Bakary Soumare, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Dilly Duka (Daniel Paladini 73), Arevalo Rios, Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere (Alex 63) - Juan Luis Anangono (Quincy Amarikwa 64), Mike Magee.

TEAM NEWS

  • For the first time since Mike Magee came to the club, the Fire were shut out at the attacking end in the loss to New England. Their last shutout had been in the second of consecutive 1-0 losses to Philadelphia on May 18.
  • “We’ll brush it off. There are 11 more games and you can’t get tied up in one game. It’s just unfortunate with the events that happened. It’s silly in some ways, but what are you going to do?” said Fire assistant coach Mike Matkovich.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas was dismissed from the field late in the match and will be suspended from bench coaching duties for the Sporting KC contest.
  • Newly signed Designated Player Arevalo Rios made his Fire and MLS debut, playing 90 minutes in the center of midfield.
  • “Any time you bring new guys in, it takes some time. So I think is just a matter of getting to know each other and familiarity and all that type of stuff,” said Matkovich.
  • After missing a match with a calf strain, Magee returned to the starting lineup to partner Juan Luis Anangono in attack, who was making his second consecutive start since coming to the club as a Designated Player.
  • Chris Rolfe did not feature for the Fire for the first time in league play this season, suffering from hamstring tightness. Rolfe started each of the first 21 league matches, before coming on as a substitute the week before vs. Montréal.
  • Patrick Nyarko missed a second consecutive match but has been cleared to return to full training following concussion-like symptoms suffered in the August 7 Open Cup match.
  • Having maintained the same back four for 11 of the previous 12 matches, since May 25, the Fire will be without center back Bakary Soumare, suspended for yellow card accumulation. Jalil Anibaba is expected to shift into central defense.
  • “This was a massive game for us,” Soumare said. “We played well enough to put ourselves in a position where we were climbing the ladder, so today was definitely a step back for us. I thought there was room for us to gain at least one point, so it was very disappointing overall.”

 

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City lost for a third time in four matches, falling 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes on Sunday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. Sporting are now in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points from 25 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came in the 55th minute. Steven Beitashour delivered a first-time volley cross off a deflected ball on the right wing, and Chris Wondolowski knifed in behind Sporting’s backline to head home inside the near post past helpless goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
  • Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch had a night to remember, making three saves to earn his 100th MLS victory on his 37th birthday.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that rolled to a 3-0 win against the New England Revolution at Sporting Park. Lawrence Olum came into the midfield in place of Peterson Joseph, and Jacob Peterson started on the wing for Kei Kamara.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-1-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell, Lawrence Olum - Benny Feilhaber (Peterson Joseph 77) - Jacob Peterson (C.J. Sapong 69), Claudio Bieler (Teal Bunbury 56), Soony Saad.

 

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting were shut out for a second consecutive match on the road, following their 1-0 loss at Montréal on July 27. The two losses came on the heels of a five-game road undefeated run.
  • “I thought the guys played hard. Unfortunately, there were certain things that went against us and that made it hard for us to find our rhythm,” said Sporting manager Peter Vermes. “I don’t think either team was able to find a rhythm or the game; it was a pretty ugly one.”
  • Kei Kamara missed the match after suffering an ankle sprain late in the New England match, one where Revolution midfielder Andy Dorman was sent off after the challenge, and had not returned to full training ahead of the Chicago contest.
  • “With it already being Tuesday and he's not training with us,” Vermes said, “I think it's more than likely that he won't be ready.”
  • Midfielder Graham Zusi missed his third consecutive match since suffered a right quadriceps strain in the MLS All-Star Game played at Sporting Park.
  • “We'll have to see what he's like [Wednesday],” Vermes said, “but he's looking closer right now than Kei is, for sure.”
  • Jacob Peterson made his first start since June 1, playing 69 minutes in a wide attacking role. C.J. Sapong was able to make his third substitute appearance in the last four matches, after returning from a loan to USL PRO side Orlando City SC.
  • “Those two guys [Zusi and Kamara] are great players and they add a lot to our team, but those guys in the other room are a very talented group. I know we know we can win with those guys. Could things have ended differently? Maybe, but there isn’t anything we can do about that now.”
  • Lawrence Olum returned to the starting lineup, featuring in a deep-lying central midfield role. His last start, July 27 vs. Montréal, had come in central defense.