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Preview: Sporting host RSL, look to stay unbeaten at LSP

LIVESTRONG SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
8:30 p.m. ET (KSMO; KMYU 2.2)
August 3, 2011 (WEEK 21; MLS Game 201)

Sporting Kansas City put their club-record unbeaten streak and undefeated record at Livestrong Sporting Park on the line when they play host to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday evening. Sporting extended their run to 13 games without loss with yet another dramatic draw, coming back for a last-gasp 1-1 tie with the New England Revolution last weekend. Real Salt Lake are coming off a rare defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium, falling 2-0 to the Columbus Crew last weekend.

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REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Tyler Ploeger
MLS Career: 48 games; FC/gm: 25.1; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 9; pens: 8

INJURY REPORT: SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: DF Korede Aiyegbusi (concussion); MF Davy Arnaud (sports hernia surgery); DF Aurelien Collin (lower back fracture); MF Craig Rocastle (R knee sprain); MF Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery) … REAL SALT LAKE – OUT: MF Javier Morales (L ankle fracture dislocation); DF Jamison Olave (L knee MCL strain); MF Nelson Gonzalez (broken R foot); GK Kyle Reynish (concussion); DOUBTFUL: FW Paulo Jr. (L hamstring strain); MF Ned Grabavoy (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Tony Beltran (L calf strain); PROBABLE: FW Fabian Espindola (L hamstring strain), FW Alvaro Saborio (R knee swelling)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Aurelien Collin … RSL: Kyle Beckerman
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Omar Bravo, Julio Cesar … RSL: Jean Alexandre, Robbie Russell, Will Johnson, Chris Wingert

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (13 meetings): Sporting 5 wins, 18 goals … Real 4 wins, 18 goals … Ties 3
AT KC (6 meetings): Sporting 3 wins, 9 goals … Real 1 win, 7 goals … Ties 2
RETURN MATCH: 9/17: Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7 p.m. MT

LAST YEAR (MLS)
5/29: RSL 4, KC 1 (Espindola 31; Saborio 34; Russell 84; Grabavoy 90 – Wolff 42)
8/7: KC 1, RSL 1 (Kamara 21 – Findley 33)

  • Kansas City won 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 16, 2009, RSL’s last loss at home before falling to Seattle on May 28 of this season.
  • The road teams won both meetings in 2009.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes v RSL: P3 W0 L2 D1 … Jason Kreis vs. KC: P8 W3 L3 D2

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City once again provided some late heroics to extend their unbeaten streak to a club-record 13 games, grabbing a late 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting have 27 points from 21 matches on the season, tied for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Rajko Lekic opened the scoring in the 38th minute for New England. Defender Daneil Cyrus misjudged a long clearance from Matt Reis, whiffing on the header and allowing the ball to bounce behind, and Lekic was first to it, curling his shot past SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen with the outside of his boot.
  • The Revolution went down a man in the 82nd minute when A.J. Soares was sent off after taking down C.J. Sapong as the last man.
  • In the game's final minute, Sporting once again provided some late heroics. A loose ball bounced off bodies and fell right to Teal Bunbury at the left corner of the six-yard box -- and Bunbury lashed it home inside the far post for the leveler.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that strolled to a 4-2 victory against Toronto FC at Livestrong Sporting Park. Daneil Cyrus came into the back four for the injured Aurelien Collin, and Graham Zusi started up top in place of Omar Bravo.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-1-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Daneil Cyrus (Teal Bunbury 80), Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic (Birahim Diop 88) - Roger Espinoza, Julio Cesar (Omar Bravo 56) – Jeferson - Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong, Graham Zusi.

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting Kansas City set a club record with their 13th game without loss, surpassing the mark of 12 games set during the MLS Cup-winning season of 2000.
  • “We continue to climb the ladder. Philadelphia lost last [weekend], and now we get another point,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “If you look back where we were and where we are, it’s a big difference. We’re in the hunt right now. We’re going to keep going after it.”
  • For the third time in four games, Sporting scored a goal in the 89th minute or later to snatch a late draw, after Omar Bravo scored deep in stoppage time in the 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on July 9, and Aurelien Collin scored in the 90th minute for a 1-1 draw July 16 vs. Houston.
  • “It’s not a good habit to get into to go down a goal early. Honestly, it’s been an issue with us for a while now,” said defender Matt Besler. “We need to come out, realize we’re at home, and we need to take it to the opposing team, especially in the first half. We need to let them know it’s going to be a long game for them, so we can control the flow of the game.”
  • For Bunbury, his goal came on a night when 10,000 fans receive his likeness in a bobblehead. It was his fourth league goal of the season, but his first since scoring three goals in back-to-back games March 26 vs. Chicago and April 2 (two) vs. Vancouver.
  • “At times when you’re a player and you get out of form a bit, it’s all about how you work. He’s worked every day, he works very hard,” said Vermes. “Putting him in the game at a moment like this when we needed to score, it’s not only great for him, it’s important for us to get the tie. For him to get the goal, with so much perseverance and work ethic, he deserved it and it was great for us.
  • Sporting are still unbeaten in league play in their new Livestrong Sporting Park home, with a 3-0-4 mark in MLS games. They are one of two teams still unbeaten at home in league play, along with the LA Galaxy (6-0-5).
  • Daneil Cyrus made his first MLS start in place of Aurelien Collin, who will be sidelined 6 weeks after suffered a non-displaced fracture of his spine.

REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake saw their unbeaten run come to a crashing halt at seven games, falling to a 2-0 defeat against the Columbus Crew on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL sits in fifth place in the Western Conference, with 33 points from 19 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew took the lead after just five minutes. Robbie Rogers skipped through a pair of RSL defenders on the left and sent a centering pass to a wide-open Eddie Gaven, who easily slotted the ball past diving goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
  • Then five minutes, Columbus doubled its lead. Rogers again played provider, lifting a cross from the left flank to forward Tommy Heinemann, who headed home inside the right-hand post.
  • RSL coach Jason Kreis made two changes to the side that rolled to a 4-0 victory against a 10-man San Jose Earthquakes at Rio Tinto Stadium. Chris Schuler and Chris Wingert came into the back four for the injured Jamison Olave and Tony Beltran, and Jean Alexandre came in up top for the suspended Alvaro Saborio.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Robbie Russell (Arturo Alvarez 61), Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson - Andy Williams (Collen Warner 61) - Jean Alexandre (Luis Gil 70), Fabian Espindola.

TEAM NEWS

  • The loss to Columbus was just the third for RSL all-time in regular season play at Rio Tinto Stadium. The first loss came to Kansas City in 2009, then there have been losses to Seattle and Columbus this season.
  • It was also just the second loss in all competitions by more than one goal in Sandy for RSL, after their first-ever loss in the stadium came to Kansas City, a 2-0 defeat in 2009.
  • “To me it just came down to mental lapses. You’re down two goals to a team that’s very good defensively and works hard together and, I think, was going to come in to this game and try and put a lot of numbers behind the ball,” Kreis said. “It’s difficult to break them down.”
  • With Jamison Olave injured in the MLS All-Star Game and unavailable, the Real back line was also forced into another change with Tony Beltran injured during training.
  • “I would love to have played with the same back four as we did last week, but with Olave’s injury and Tony Beltran’s slight injury we just couldn’t do that,” Kreis said. “But for me it wasn’t the back four, it was the entire defensive effort, and the entire focus and mentality in the first part of the game.”
  • Real were also forced into another late change when Alvaro Saborio was suspended Friday by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Saborio had scored four goals over the previous four matches; his running partner Fabian Espíndola was kept off the scoresheet for a second consecutive game.
  • “We know that Fabian is a very emotional player. I thought he was trying to make a difference for us every time he got the ball tonight He was going at players, trying to get behind them and trying to make the final pass or make the goal, but it wasn’t coming off for him, as it wasn’t for the other players,” Kreis said.