Preview: Reds, SKC eager to snap out of frustrating funk

Toronto FC vs. Sporting Kansas City

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A pair of clubs looking to reverse some recent trends meet at BMO Field when Toronto FC entertain Sporting Kansas City. TFC are coming off the heaviest defeat in club history, a 6-2 loss to Philadelphia Union, that extended their winless run to four games in league play. For Sporting, it’s the final game of their 10-game road swing to open the season, winless in their last eight in MLS despite coming away from Colorado with a 1-1 draw last weekend.

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REFEREE: Yader Reyes. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Peter Balciunas; 4th: Abbey Okulaja MLS Career: 14 games; FC/gm: 26.2; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 3; pens: 1

INJURY REPORT: TORONTO FC – OUT: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (R knee surgery recovery); DF Adrian Cann (R knee sprain); MF Matt Stinson (R calf strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Alan Gordon (adductor strain); MF Gianluca Zavarise (adductor strain); MF Jacob Peterson (L hamstring strain) …
SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Seth Sinovic (R hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: TOR: Julian De Guzman (Canada); Dicoy Williams (Jamaica); Joao Plata (Ecuador) … KC: Roger Espinoza (Honduras), Stephane Auvray (Guadeloupe), Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone); Shavar Thomas (Jamaica)
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Michael Harrington
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Dan Gargan, Javier Martina

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (10 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 7 goals … Sporting 4 wins, 10 goals …Ties 3
AT TORONTO (5 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 3 goals … Sporting 1 win, 1 goal …Ties 2
RETURN MATCH: 7/23: Sporting Kansas City vs. Toronto FC, 6:30 p.m. CT

LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/5: TOR 0, KC 0
7/31: KC 1, TOR 0 (Bunbury 62)
•    Since losing the club’s first game ever at BMO Field, 1-0 to Kansas City on April 28, 2007, Toronto FC have not lost at home to K.C. TFC has won twice, with two draws, in their four home games since.
•    Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. TOR: P2 W1 L0 D1 … Aron Winter v KC: first game

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC suffered the heaviest defeat in club history, falling 6-2 to Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC has 12 points from 13 games on the season, sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    Union had a two-goal lead by the 11th minute. In the second minute, a Jordan Harvey cross from the left flank found Gabriel Farfan completely unmarked in the box and he stroked a shot inside the left post. Then Justin Mapp sailed up the center of the park and ripped a drive from outside the box that sailed to the back of the net.
•    Kyle Nakazawa finished off a nice passing combination from the heart of the area to make it 3-0 to Philadelphia just before the halftime break.
•    Toronto FC showed signs of a comeback with two goals from Maicon Santos within 10 minutes. First, he ran onto a long pass from Danleigh Borman, rounded goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and tucked the ball into the open goal (50). Then a Borman cross fell to Maicon and he knocked it home from close range.
•    But Union killed off the comeback two minutes later when Mapp intercepted a poor clearance and hammered a drive from outside the area into the top of the net. Danny Mwanga then hit the scoresheet twice, turning home a Sebastien Le Toux cross in the 72nd minute then easily side-footing home in the 89th.
•    TFC head coach Aron Winter made four changes to the team that reached a scoreless result with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Ty Harden came in for Adrian Cann at center back, Julian de Guzman and Tony Tchani replaced Alen Stevanovic and Nathan Sturgis in midfield, and Maicon Santos started up top for Javier Martina.
•    TORONTO FC--Stefan Frei - Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden (Alen Stevanovic 73), Dicoy Williams, Dan Gargan (Danleigh Borman 46) - Julian de Guzman (Javier Martina 46) - Tony Tchani, Mikael Yourassowsky - Nick Soolsma, Maicon Santos, Joao Plata.

TEAM NEWS
•    The six goals allowed by Toronto FC against Philadelphia were the most in club history. The previous record was five, on the final day of the 2009 season in a loss at New York when the Reds were in contention for the club’s first playoff berth.
•    "You feel very helpless. Everything we did today went wrong. Confidence-wise it doesn't help you as a goalkeeper to get scored on six times at home. My first touch (of the ball) is getting the ball out of the back of the net," goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. "I don't know what to say. It was an embarrassing game." Said Toronto head coach Aron Winter: "We were humiliated .That was a bad, bad performance by us."
•    The six goals allowed were also two away from the most allowed by a team in MLS history, in an 8-1 win by the LA Galaxy against the then-Dallas Burn on June 4, 1998.
•    "Of the six goals, at least five were given away," Winter said. "Today was not good. When you're rebuilding you have your ups and downs. After a defeat like today we need to stay calm. You have to still have faith."
•    Maicon Santos scored the first multi-goal game of his career last weekend against Philadelphia. His five goals in 2011 matches his single-season MLS career-high, set last year with Chivas USA and TFC.
•    Before leaving to join the Canadian national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, designated player Julian de Guzman lasted just 45 minutes before he was taken off. He was suspended for the previous match against Colorado for yellow card accumulation.
•    De Guzman will be joined on international duty by center back Dicoy Williams, who will be in Jamaica’s squad. Williams has started seven consecutive games in the TFC back four.
•    “Even when you are rebuilding I want guys who want to win and now there are a lot of changes with those guys who we are going to be missing the coming three weeks,” Winter said. “They are going to get the chances to play.”
•    For the first time all season, center back Adrian Cann did not appear, with Ty Harden given the start ahead of him. Then on Tuesday in training tragedy struck, as Cann tore the ACL in his right knee and will be lost for the remainder of the campaign.
•    “It is a disappointment because Adrian has had a good start to the season and has been playing well; we will certainly miss his presence in the lineup,” Winter said. “While it is difficult there is now an opportunity for younger players like Nana Attakora and others.”
•    Alan Gordon returned to training this week, but is still listed as questionable by the club. He has not played since a May 4 Canadian championship match vs. FC Edmonton.
•    “I don’t know, I can’t give it a percent. I would say, 50-50,” Gordon said. “ … I’m just trying to stay positive and I keep having that long-term goal in mind, getting on the field healthy and fit.”

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City put an end to their losing streak at five games, coming back for a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Sporting have 5 points from 9 matches on the season, sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH
•    The Rapids took the lead in the 13th minute as Conor Casey latched onto a poor back pass from Sporting KC defender Aurelien Collin, rounded goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and slid the ball toward goal. Sporting defender Matt Besler nearly cleared it off the line but only drove it into the net.
•    But Sporting found the equalizer with a quarter-hour to play. Ryan Smith was freed on the left side of the Rapids penalty area by Teal Bunbury and finished well into the top right corner past goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
•    SKC boss Peter Vermes made four changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field. Seth Sinovic came in at left back for Roger Espinoza, Chance Myers and Graham Zusi came into the midfield for Kei Kamara and Ryan Smith, and C.J. Sapong replaced Teal Bunbury up top.
•    SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-4-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Michael Harrington, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic (Ryan Smith 46) - Craig Rocastle - Chance Myers, Graham Zusi, Davy Arnaud, Omar Bravo (Birahim Diop  85) - C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 54).

TEAM NEWS
•    Sporting Kansas City’s 10-game road swing to open the season comes to an end with the visit to BMO Field. Next Thursday, June 9, KC will open Livestrong Sporting Park with a match against the Chicago Fire.
•    SKC put an end to their five-game losing skid in the draw with Colorado, though they are 1-6-2 on the season, having still not won since First Kick.
•    “If I look at it now, it’s a monumental step forward for us, and it’s a huge point on the road. It helps us going into our final game in this 10-game road stretch into Toronto, and we just have to stay focused on what we’re doing, and just continue to get better, and eliminate some of the mistakes we’ve made,” Peter Vermes said.
•    The last team with an extended road swing to start the season – the Chicago Fire in 2006, while Toyota Park was being finished – started with two wins and four draws in nine games. Sporting are the fourth club in MLS history to start the year with multiple games on the road while awaiting a new home: Columbus (1999; 5-2 in 7 games), LA Galaxy (2003; 0-4-4 in 8 games) and Chicago.
•    While still looking for their first defensive clean sheet of the season, Sporting conceded just a single goal for the fourth time in nine games this year, the second time in the last three.
•    “I don’t think they broke us down one time through the run of play,” Vermes said. “They got one goal off a mistake we made, and our reaction was good – we didn’t do what we’ve done at other times, you know, panic and fall apart and give up too many chances.”
•    After making his first start of the season the week before, Sporting KC’s Ryan Smith came off the bench at Colorado and scored his first goal of the season, his first since last September in getting the late equalizer.
•    “It was an important goal, we needed it, but it was a team effort. We did well getting the ball to the edge of the box,” Smith said. “Sometimes you hit them and they go over, sometimes you hit them and they trickle in, and sometimes you hit them and that happens.”
•    Seth Sinovic made his first Sporting KC start in a league game, lasting 45 minutes before he had to come off for a hamstring injury.
•    “I think Seth is a pretty solid guy. He’s a ‘Steady Eddie’ if you will, nothing outlandish and nothing too low,” Vermes said. “I feel bad the fact that he did his hamstring a little bit, I just hope he’s not going to be out too long.”