Sporting wary of LA in spite of early-season struggles

Peter Vermes

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For all their success in recent years, there’s one accomplishment that has eluded the LA Galaxy since 2007: a win in Kansas City.

As it happens, the wins have been difficult to come by for LA to start the young season. The reigning Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup champions are 1-2-0 in MLS play, their most recent setback a 3-1 loss to the New England Revolution at The Home Depot Center, and Sporting KC’s players are expecting their opponents to be hungry to snap their cold streak when they visit Livestrong Sporting Park on Saturday (4 pm ET, ESPN, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com).

“With their result last week and our result last week, we both have the same mentality,” right back Chance Myers told MLSsoccer.com after Thursday’s training session. “We need another win.”

It would be easy to paint the Galaxy as the underdogs for reasons that have nothing to do with Sporting’s 4-0-0 start.

ESPN Preview: KC vs. LA

Landon Donovan is coming off a quadriceps injury that caused him to miss the match against the Revs. David Beckham is dealing with a laundry list of knocks that limited him in practice this week. And the defense has been uncharacteristically awful in the early going, giving up eight goals in three league matches and four more in two CONCACAF Champions League outings.

But Sporting aren’t having any of that “favorites” talk, not even with their spotless record and 7-1 scoring advantage this season.

“The last I looked, they were the defending champions,” manager Peter Vermes said earlier this week. “If you don’t get up for any team in this league, you’re going to find out pretty quick that you find yourself in the losing column. There’s not a game we take lightly. Every team, we view and respect, realize that they’re good and we have to be ready for them.”

Against the Galaxy, that means being prepared for the strike force of Robbie Keane and Edson Buddle.

“They can put the ball in the net five times, if you allow them to,” Myers said.

Keane, the Republic of Ireland captain, has three of LA’s five goals in MLS play, while Buddle – back in LA after a stint with German side Ingolstadt 04 – has netted once.

“They’re a very dangerous team going forward,” center back Matt Besler said. “Even though they lost last week, looking at the highlights, they had a lot of chances. With Keane and Buddle, those are probably one of the best tandems in the league right now. With the runs they make and the different challenges they provide to us, we just have to be tuned in and concentrate.”

That said, Besler relishes the opportunity to match his side’s defense – which has conceded only one goal in four games and none during the run of play – against that kind of firepower.

“I’m pumped up,” he said. “It’s a challenge for me. I love the challenge. Just looking at [Keane’s] game, he’s always moving, and those are the guys that are the hardest to face – the guys that are really thinkers and make the runs off the ball. You’ve just always got to be aware.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com. Write to him at steve@artkc365.com.