Preview: Sporting look to stay perfect vs. visiting LA
SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs LA GALAXY
LIVESTRONG SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
April 7, 2012 (WEEK 5, MLS Game #40)
4 p.m. ET (ESPN/Deportes)
The league's only team still with a perfect record, Sporting Kansas City put their streak on the line when the defending MLS champion LA Galaxy visit Livestrong Sporting Park on Saturday afternoon. Sporting became the seventh team in MLS history to start a season with four wins in four games, in a 1-0 win at Chivas USA last weekend. The Galaxy went down to a second home defeat for the year, falling 3-1 to the New England Revolution.
REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. SAR (bench): Adam Wienckowski; JAR (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Michael Kennedy
MLS Career: 76 games; FC/gm: 24.8; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 23; pens: 22
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY - OUT: GK Eric Kronberg (lower back injury)
- LA GALAXY - OUT: DF Omar Gonzalez (L knee surgery); DF Leonardo (R knee surgery); GK Brian Perk (sports hernia surgery); QUESTIONABLE: FW Adam Cristman (concussion); FW Landon Donovan (L quad tightness); MF Bryan Jordan (L hamstring strain); MF Mike Magee (R adductor tightness); FW Pat Noonan (R hip flexor tightness)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (50 meetings): Sporting 17 wins (2 shootout), 60 goals ... Galaxy 22 wins (0 shootout), 78 goals ... Ties 11
AT KC (25 meetings): Sporting 12 wins (1 shootout), 35 goals ... Galaxy 8 wins (0 shootout), 34 goals ... Ties 5
FLASHBACK: Beckham strokes signature free kick
LAST YEAR (MLS):
5/14: LA 4, KC 1 (Donovan 44, 46; Angel 64; Beckham 87 - own goal 39)
9/5: KC 2, LA 2 (Julio Cesar 72; Bravo 90 - Franklin 25, 74)
- This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
- The teams have played to draws in each of their last three meetings in Kansas City, since the 2009 season. KC has won just once at home vs. LA in the last seven years - a 2-0 win Sept. 13, 2008.
- The Galaxy hadn't defeated Kansas City at home in two seasons, before their 4-1 win last year.
- Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. LA: P4 W1 L1 D2 ... Bruce Arena vs. KC: P20 W6 L8 D6
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City made it four-for-four to start the 2012 season, defeating Chivas USA 1-0 on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. Sporting have 12 points from 4 matches to lead the Eastern Conference.
- The game's lone goal came in the 47th minute. SKC's Graham Zusi fired a shot that bounced off the crossbar. The deflection fell back to the midfielder, and Zusi headed it across the goalmouth to a waiting C.J. Sapong, who nodded home his third goal of the season.
- Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made no changes to the team for a second consecutive match, keeping the team that took a late 2-1 victory against FC Dallas at Livestrong Sporting Park
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Roger Espinoza, Julio Cesar - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi (Paulo Nagamura 89), Bobby Convey (Jacob Peterson 73) - C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 72).
Power 5 Sophomores: #1 C.J. Sapong
- Sporting Kansas City are the sixth team in MLS history to start a season 4-0-0 - and the third in as many seasons (LA Galaxy in 2010, Real Salt Lake in 2011). The Galaxy also did in 1996 and 1998, while D.C. United did it in 1997.
- "It's good to be 4-0, it's better than to be 0-4 that's for sure, but I think for us it's really just maintaining the idea that we have 30 games left]," SKC manager Peter Vermes said. " ... I'm not making any disrespectful comments to you guys [in the media]. From your point of view, I understand it. But for us, there's so much more we have to accomplish as we move forward."
- Sporting recorded their third shutout in four games on the season. With one goal allowed, SKC is tied with the San Jose Earthquakes for the second-best defensive record in MLS through four weeks. Only Vancouver Whitecaps FC, with 360 shutout minutes to start the season, is better.
- "That shows we've been organized," Vermes said, "and have made a good commitment to making sure we don't give anything away."
- Sporting KC's Graham Zusi recorded his MLS-leading fifth assist in the 1-0 win against Chivas USA. He has recorded an assist in every game this season; the four-game streak matches the longest of the season a year ago, and is four games shy of the all-time MLS record (Mart"n Machon, Miami, 7/19-9/9/2000).
- C.J. Sapong scored his third goal of the season in the place where he netted his first as a pro - also against Chivas USA. When Sapong has scored a goal for Sporting, they are 8-0-0.
- "It feels amazing, we probably haven't played to our fullest potential yet, but we're still grinding out those wins and that's a good sign," Sapong said. "So hopefully we'll just keep riding that and then by the middle of the season be playing our best soccer."
- The LA match is the first of back-to-back home games against the top of the Western Conference over the past few seasons. Real Salt Lake comes to Livestrong Sporting Park next weekend.
- "When you go away from home, I think a lot of teams' objective is to drive the game. We told ourselves that we didn't want to go into the game exposing ourselves," said Vermes. "There's no reason for us to drive [the Chivas] game, they had to come at us, so it was more we let them have the ball were they had it. But I thought our lines, not only from east to west but north to south, were very compact and we didn't give them a lot of chance to play through us."
ESPN previews KC vs. LA match
The LA Galaxy came back after a week off and crashed to another home defeat, this time a 3-1 decision to the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Galaxy are tied for eighth place in the Western Conference with 3 points from 3 games.
- The Revolution were two goals up within the opening quarter-hour. Shalrie Joseph found Kelyn Rowe in the penalty area with a pinpoint cross from the left flank. Galaxy 'keeper Josh Saunders parried Rowe's first attempt in alone at close range, but the rookie buried the rebound.
- Then in the 13th minute, Kevin Alston sent in a rolling pass from the right and found Chris Tierney on the left side of the area, and the defender ripped a low shot past Saunders.
- The Revs put the game on ice in the 65th minute. Ryan Guy flighted in a cross from the right to Saer Sene, who got between defenders at the back post and found enough room to head home his second goal in as many games.
- Robbie Keane cut into the lead in the 78th minute when Edson Buddle played him a brilliant through ball. Keane broke through the New England defense, danced around goalkeeper Matt Reis and slipped it into the back of the net.
- Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made two changes to the team that recorded a 3-1 home win against D.C. United at The Home Depot Center. Paolo Cardozo and Marcelo Sarvas came into the midfield, in place of Landon Donovan and Mike Magee.
- LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Josh Saunders - Sean Franklin, A.J. DeLaGarza, Andrew Boyens, Todd Dunivant - Paolo Cardozo (Chad Barrett 71), Juninho, David Beckham (Michael Stephens 46), Marcelo Sarvas (Mike Magee 46) - Edson Buddle, Robbie Keane.
Key Matchup: Sapong vs. LA's defense
- The Galaxy have allowed seven goals in three MLS games at The Home Depot Center after the 3-1 loss Saturday to New England. They allowed just eight at home in all of the 2011 league season, and allowed more than one goal in a home game just once, a span stretching across 23 games in all competitions.
- "You still can't concede goals like [we did vs. New England] regardless if you have two weeks off or three days off or two days off," striker Robbie Keane said. "We can't be conceding goals the way we've conceded them. We have to rectify that because the goals we're conceding are similar to the first games."
- The Galaxy hit the road in league play for the first time this season with the trip to Kansas City. They've lost twice in three MLS games, and three times in all competitions, at The Home Depot Center.
- "We knew how good we were last year and we knew that teams feared us last year," Galaxy defender Sean Franklin said. "I don't think no one fears us this year. Teams are coming in here to our home, which they didn't do last year, and beat us and that's something that we can't do. The positive about it is that we have 30-something games left in our season but we've got to get things right."
- A year ago, the Galaxy won just four times in their opening 11 league matches. The difference was they lost just twice in those games, before winning 15 of their final 23 MLS contests.
- "Every year you start off and things are a little bit rusty," defender Todd Dunivant said. "We didn't start off last year well, either. We need to correct those things and get better, and we will."
- For the first time since coming to the Galaxy, David Beckham was taken off for a substitute before the hour mark. He and midfielder Marcelo Sarvas were exchanged at halftime for Michael Stephens and Mike Magee.
- "Felt we needed to make a change in the midfield," Arena said. "Purely a coach's decision. I couldn't change 11 players, that's what I told the team at halftime. If I had 11 substitutions I would have considered that ... Hopefully he's ready to be part of the next game. I'm sure he's not pleased about it but that's not the issue in the game. The issue for the game was 11 players for New England soundly outplayed the 11 players for the Galaxy."
- Landon Donovan was not available for the match after suffering from tightness in his right quadriceps. He is listed as questionable for the SKC match.
- "We have to get through the rest of the week. That's the bottom line. I expect he'll be ready to play, though," Arena said. " ... Like any team, it's important to have your best players on the field. We're a better team with Landon on the field. We're hopeful he will be back on Saturday."