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Preview: Sporting's streak on the line against Colorado

SKC_COL_DL

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

Sporting Kansas City put their long undefeated streak on the line when they play host to the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. SKC are unbeaten in eight league games – and 10 in all competitions – after a 2-1 win at Portland last weekend. The Rapids have won just once in their last 10 league games after another home draw, this time a scoreless result with Houston on Sunday evening.

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REFEREE: Niko Bratsis. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Kermit Quisenberry; 4th: Abbey Okulaja
MLS Career: 4 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 0; pens: 0

INJURY REPORT:
SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); MF Craig Rocastle (R knee sprain); MF Davy Arnaud (sports hernia); DF Seth Sinovic (R hamstring strain)
COLORADO RAPIDS – DOUBTFUL: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); MF Joseph Nane (R shoulder strain); FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES:
none

SUSPENDED:
COL:Quincy Amarikwa (through July 6)

WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD:
COL: Pablo Mastroeni
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS:
KC: Omar Bravo, Julio Cesar, Aurelien Collin
COL: Conor Casey, Jeff Larentowicz, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (48 meetings): Sporting 20 wins (1 shootout), 82 goals … Rapids 17 wins (3 shootout), 64 goals … Ties 11
  • AT KC (23 meetings): Sporting 16 wins (0 shootout), 52 goals… Rapids 3 wins (1 shootout), 23 goals… Ties 4
  • Ryan Smith’s 75th-minute goal canceled out a first-half Conor Casey strike as the teams played to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting, May 28 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • Colorado has not won at Kansas City since 2002. In their 10 league games since, Kansas City has defeated the Rapids seven times (with three draws). However, the Rapids have eliminated Kansas City on their home ground twice in that stretch in the U.S. Open Cup, 2008 and 2010.
  • Kansas City has not won at Colorado since 2004. The Rapids have won four of the seven meetings at home since, the teams playing to 1-1 draws two years in a row now.
  • Coaches' records: Peter Vermes vs. COL: P4 W1 L0 D3 … Gary Smith v KC: P6 W2 L1 D3

LAST MEETING (MLS):

  • 5/28: COL 1, KC 1 (Casey 13 – Smith 76)
  • 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.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-1-4-1): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor - Pablo Mastroeni - Sanna Nyassi (Joseph Nane 46 / Andre Akpan 57), Ross LaBauex (Caleb Folan 73), Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson - Conor Casey.
  • 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).

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City stretched their league unbeaten run to eight games, winning for a third consecutive match in a 2-1 win at the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. Sporting have 20 points from 16 matches on the season, moving into a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting KC took the lead with two goals in a four-minute span. In the 15th minute, Omar Bravo found Sapong with a forward pass and Sapong rounded Mamadou Danso before firing a shot past Troy Perkins from the top of the box.
  • Then four minutes later, Matt Besler launched in a long throw-in that Sapong flicked on, finding Aurelien Collin near the top of the six-yard box. The big French center back guiding a glancing header just inside the right post for the 2-0 lead.
  • The Timbers pulled a goal in stunning fashion just before halftime. Darlington Nagbe controlled a corner that had been punched out by Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, juggled it twice with his right foot and then sent a looping volley inside the left-hand post.
  • SKC manager Peter Vermes made one change to the team that took a 2-1 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Livestrong Sporting Park. Michael Harrington came in at left back for Seth Sinovic.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-3-2): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington - Julio Cesar - Milos Stojcev (Kei Kamara 72), Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza - C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 93+), Omar Bravo (Birahim Diop 82).

TEAM NEWS

  • Just two weeks ago, Sporting Kansas City were at the foot of the Eastern Conference table. With a pair of victories in two home games against Western clubs this week, and the right combination of other results, they could be a point out of first by the end of Week 17.
  • "It was mainly just getting that game in at home, finally getting a good win under our belts and reiterating to ourselves that we're capable of doing a lot of damage. We knew it at the beginning of the season but no one else did,” said rookie CJ Sapong.
  • Sapong was involved in multiple goals for the first time in his career, with a goal and an assist. He has two goals and two assists in his past five games.
  • “CJ [Sapong] did a good job at turning it, one thing that's very good in his game as a young guy,” said Vermes. “As a forward he plays very well with his back to the goal and his turn was fantastic. He had a lot of composure to slip that ball into the back of the net."
  • The 10-game trip to start the season ended with a pair of draws to lead into the opener of their new stadium; since opening Livestrong Sporting Park, Sporting have won two of their three road contests with a draw.
  • “We’ve had some good results on the road this year,” Vermes said, “but I think this takes the cake so far. The crowd was amazing. It was a very difficult environment for us to play in.”
  • The game against Colorado kicks off the payback for the 10-game road trip to start the season. Ten of Sporting next 11 league games are at Livestrong Sporting Park – the only road trip the July 16 visit to Houston. When they return, they will not face a road game again until Sept. 17.
  • “During the 10-game stretch that we had on the road, we thought we were playing well but things just weren't going our way, so it's tough, when you don't get results, to keep your head up and to say, ‘Keep going, it's going to be OK.’ For some reason right now things are clicking and we're very confident," said Matt Besler.

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids remained winless at home since April, playing to a scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo on Sunday evening at at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids have 23 points from 18 games, sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall was credited with seven saves on the night, many of the spectacular variety. Matt Pickens was not called upon to make a save.
  • The closest either team came to scoring was in the 10th minute when Colorado's Jamie Smith headed against the post after an inch-perfect cross from Brian Mullan.
  • Rapids head coach Gary Smith made three changes to the team that lost 4-1 to the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Marvell Wynne came into the back four for Scott Palguta, and Caleb Folan and Omar Cummings were an all-new strike pair in place of Conor Casey and Quincy Amarikwa.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor - Brian Mullan (Wells Thompson 78), Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith - Caleb Folan, Omar Cummings (Quincy Amarikwa 78 [sent off 93+]).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Colorado Rapids have not won at Dick’s Sporting Goods park since April 3, their home winless streak extended to six games in the scoreless draw.
  • “For me it was probably the best home display that lacked a goal for a good, good period of time,” said Rapids head coach Gary Smith. “… In the main, I thought the display was pretty dominant. We controlled good periods, there was some nice pressure.”
  • Omar Cummings made his first start since May 4 in the scoreless draw with Houston, but was without his usual running partner in Conor Casey, suspended for the game. Casey has scored in four of his last five appearances.
  • “Omar’s pace up front, I think against maybe more average center backs, would’ve caused even more problems,” said Gary Smith. “I thought [Jermaine] Taylor and [André] Hainault played very well, and Taylor made two or three probably game-saving challenges back there.”
  • Casey and Cummings have still started only game together – the season-opening victory against Portland.
  • “We have three or four guys capable of scoring 10 goals in a season, as proven in the past, and we have other guys that when there’s that struggle, can carry the load and put some balls in the net,” said defender Drew Moor. “It’s just about quality in the final third, and decisions, and just putting the responsibility on your shoulders every once in a while."
  • Marvell Wynne also made his first start after missing four consecutive matches to a hamstring strain.
  • “Omar and Marvell’s inclusion, you can see at either end of the field makes such a big difference. Marvell’s pace at the back completely demoralizes forwards to chase the ball down,” Gary Smith said.