Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids | MLS Match Preview

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs. COLORADO RAPIDS
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
August 31, 2013 (WEEK 27, MLS Game #247)
7:30 p.m. CT (KSMO; Altitude)

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Blacked out in Rapids local broadcast area. (Watch on Altitude Sports)

A pair of clubs in the thick of the playoff chase meet in an interconference clash when Sporting Kansas City play host to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at Sporting Park. SKC returns home off a second consecutive loss, a 1-0 defeat at Chicago, and are now two points out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rapids return to action after having extended their undefeated streak to a club-record nine games last time, a 2-0 win vs. Vancouver that left them in third place in the Western Conference and holding a playoff position.

REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. AR1 (bench): Joe Fletcher; AR2 (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Armando Villarreal
Petrescu MLS Career: 71 games; FC/gm: 27.7; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 9; pens: 10

DISABLED LIST: COL -- Diego Calderón
SUSPENDED: KC -- Peterson Joseph (caution accumulation; through Sept. 1)

WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC -- Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic ... COL -- Shane O’Neill, Nathan Sturgis
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC -- Lawrence Olum, Oriol Rosell, Benny Feilhaber, Claudio Bieler, Chance Myers ... COL -- Dillon Powers
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (50 meetings): Sporting 20 wins (1 shootout), 85 goals ... Rapids 17 wins (3 shootout), 67 goals ... Ties 13
AT KANSAS CITY (24 meetings): Sporting 16 wins (0 shootout), 53 goals ... Rapids 3 wins (1 shootout), 24 goals ... Ties 5

LAST YEAR (MLS)
5/19: COL 2, KC 2 (Marshall 52; Kimura 60 – Bunbury 2, 14)

  • The teams are meeting for the only time this season in league play.
  • The Rapids have not won at Kansas City since 2002, a 2-1 win at Arrowhead Stadium. Sporting have won seven of the 11 meetings since with four draws.
  • Kansas City hasn’t won in Colorado since 2004, a 3-1 win at Invesco Field at Mile High. All-time at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the Rapids have won two of the six meetings, with four draws, including a 2-2 result last May 19 in the only meeting between the teams.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes v COL: P6 W1 L0 D5 ... Oscar Pareja vs. KC: P1 W0 L0 D1

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City went to a second consecutive loss, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Chicago Fire on Friday evening at Toyota Park. Sporting are now in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points from 26 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came in the 13th minute. Mike Magee tipped a Jalil Anibaba cross across the goal to Hunter Jumper – making his second career start in MLS – and he scored into an open net by diving for a header with the ball just a few inches above the ground.
  • Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was called upon to make four saves in keeping the club's first clean sheet since June 2.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made four changes to the team that fell 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Peterson Joseph came into the midfield for Lawrence Olum, and C.J. Sapong, Teal Bunbury and Graham Zusi formed a new front line in place of Jacob Peterson, Claudio Bieler and Soony Saad.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell (Lawrence Olum 82) - Peterson Joseph, Benny Feilhaber (Soony Saad 57) - C.J. Sapong, Teal Bunbury (Dom Dwyer 67), Graham Zusi.

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting have been shut out in back-to-back games for the second time this season (also: March 16-23), both in 1-0 defeats (to San Jose and Chicago), and have lost four of their last five games.
  • “We're not putting our chances away,” Sporting manager Peter Vermes said. “I don't know what else to say. We're creating them, even on set pieces. We had an unbelievable throw-in in the first half, and it goes right through their six-yard box. You've got to be hungry and you've got to be there to finish off the ball.”
  • Graham Zusi returned to the lineup following a three-match absence in league play, after suffering a thigh injury in the MLS All-Star Game on July 31.
  • Claudio Bieler also his ever-present run this season come to an end, not featuring for a league match for the first time in the Chicago defeat.
  • “I feel that I have a role to play in this,” Bieler said. “As long as I'm on the field, I'm going to keep trying. I'm going to keep battling. I'm not going to give up. I'm a guy who likes to play the full game, the full 90 minutes, and lately I've been taken off because of the decisions of the coach, and I respect that. At the end of the day, it's a group effort, and we have to battle together to get through these tough times. Every team has a tough period in the season, so it's just all about how you bounce back.”
  • C.J. Sapong made his first start for Sporting KC since June 22, after returning from a loan to USL PRO side Orlando City SC.
  • Teal Bunbury also made his first start of the season after seven substitute appearances in all competitions, his first since suffering a torn ACL in his knee last summer. “I thought his movement was good,” Vermes said. “I thought he did a decent job of holding the ball up for us. He got a few good chances as well.”
  • Kei Kamara missed a second consecutive match with a sprained ankle suffered in the New England win, after he scored a pair of goals.
  • On Tuesday, Sporting continued their unbeaten record in the CONCACAF Champions League with a 2-0 victory against CD Olimpia of Honduras. Soony Saad scored on either side of halftime for SKC, which now has four points from two matches to sit atop Group 2.
  • “It's huge to come here – not an easy trip by any means with the travel and everything else – and put in an unbelievable tactical performance. I thought we were flawless in that regard. And then another clean sheet puts in a good position to now try to bring both these teams home,” said Vermes. “We're in a very good place.”
  • Here’s the Sporting team: Eric Kronberg; Seth Sinovic, Ike Opara, Aurelien Collin, Mechack Jerome; Oriol Rosell, Benny Feilhaber (Peterson Joseph 67), Paulo Nagamura (C.J. Sapong 78) ; Soony Saad, Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 48), Graham Zusi

COLORADO RAPIDS
The Colorado Rapids return to action after extending their undefeated streak to a club-record nine games last time out, defeating Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 39 points from 26 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Rapids took the lead in the 36th minute. On his MLS debut, Vicente Sanchez delivered a perfect cross from the right wing Deshorn Brown powered in to finish with a thundering header just in front of goal at the far left post.
  • The Rapids put the game away in the 80th minute when substitute Nick LaBrocca’s through ball found Edson Buddle open on the right side of the box, and his ensuing shot deflected off 'Caps defender Johnny Leveron and past goalkeeper David Ousted to ensure the three points.
  • Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin collected three highlight-reel saves to preserve the clean sheet.
  • Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made four changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA at StubHub Center. Marvell Wynne came into the back four for German Mera, and Hendry Thomas, Vicente Sanchez and Gabriel Torres all came into the team in place of Nick LaBrocca, Jaime Castrillon and Tony Cascio.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): Clint Irwin - Marvell Wynne, Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor, Christopher Klute - Nathan Sturgis, Hendry Thomas - Vicente Sanchez (Martin Rivero 63), Dillon Powers (Nick LaBrocca 75), Deshorn Brown - Gabriel Torres (Edson Buddle 78).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Rapids extended their undefeated streak to nine games in the 2-0 win vs. Vancouver. It matches the longest undefeated streak in club history, equaling the mark set April 30-June 11, 2011.
  • Newly-signed Designated Player Vicente Sánchez recorded his first MLS assist vs. Vancouver, making his first league start after coming off the substitutes’ bench the week before.
  • “I was concerned naturally today with how that partnership could develop,” Rapids coach Oscar Pareja said. “But I think that understanding showed in periods of the game, which is good. It cannot be anything but better surely in the upcoming days.”
  • Said Sanchez: “We’re going to have more time to work together as a team. There’s two weeks without a game, and that’s good. They’re two weeks to work more, work with my teammates, and I’m happy.”
  • Gabriel Torres made his MLS debut, starting up top and playing 78 minutes. "I think (Torres) linked well, and not just with Vicente but with the other players," Pareja said. "With Dillon [Powers], even with Deshorn [Brown]. I thought the connection with Deshorn was really good and it’s encouraging. We’re very optimistic with that situation. To see two guys who came in here today and they showed that the game is about good soccer players. Sometimes the language or the timing is not a big factor, it’s about having good players on the field.”
  • Marvell Wynne returned to the Rapids lineup after a one-match absence and made his 200th league appearance, the 84th player in MLS history to reach that milestone.
  • “I thought Marvell had one of his best games since I’ve been here and I want to highlight that,” Pareja said. “Marvell came up huge for us. He made a great contribution offensively and defensively ... and the combination with him and Vicente (Sanchez) looked good. It looked natural to me.”
  • Said Wynne: “We had a little bit of a different lineup . I had Vicente in front of me and he made things a lot easier for me. I feel I can do my job correctly offensive if I just give him the ball. And, with him always being able to turn and get in good positions, I can make runs off him.”
  • Deshorn Brown scored his seventh goal of the season, most among MLS rookies, his second in the last three games and fifth since June 19.
  • Hendry Thomas also returned to the center of midfield following a two-match suspension, again playing the full 90 minutes.
  • “He’s having some issue with his hamstring, but with Hendry you have to get a couple of cops to get him off the field,” Pareja said. ‘It’s difficult because that’s his personality, but it seems like he did well with it. He’s not hurt, but (hamstring) was tight, and I was glad to keep him in the field at that point.”