Preview: Rapids return home to face slumping SKC

COL_vs_SKC_2012_05_19_DL

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COLORADO RAPIDS vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
DICK'S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
May 19, 2012 (WEEK 11, MLS Game #104)
7 p.m. MT (Altitude; KSMO)

The Colorado Rapids return home for the first time in nearly a month, playing host to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids concluded their three-game road swing at midweek, a 2-0 loss to D.C. United. Sporting are looking to put the brakes on a three-game losing streak after a seven-game winning run to open the season, last time out falling 2-1 on the road to the Chicago Fire.

REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic. SAR (bench): Paul Scott; JAR (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Landis Wiley
MLS Career: 43 games; FC/gm: 22.4; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 4; pens: 5

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INJURY REPORT:

  • COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headaches); MF Ross LaBauex (sports hernia); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain); FW Omar Cummings (L ankle sprain); PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear); MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear)
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY - OUT: GK Eric Kronberg (lower back strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Jacob Peterson (L quad strain); PROBABLE: GK Jon Kempin (L quad contusion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: KC: Roger Espinoza (through May 20)

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: COL: Jeff Larentowicz
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Jaime Castrillon ... KC: Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (49 meetings): Rapids 17 wins (3 shootout), 65 goals ... Sporting 20 wins (1 shootout), 83 goals ... Ties 12

AT COLORADO (25 meetings): Rapids 14 wins (2 shootout), 41 goals... Sporting 4 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals... Ties 7

LAST YEAR (MLS):

5/28: COL 1, KC 1 (Casey 13 - Smith 75)
7/6: KC 1, COL 1 (Zusi 62 - Casey 32)

  • This is the only league meeting between the clubs this season.
  • The last three league meetings between the clubs have been 1-1 draws, two in Commerce City and the first meeting ever at Livestrong Sporting Park (last July 6).
  • Kansas City hasn't won in Colorado since 2004, a 3-1 win at Invesco Field at Mile High. All-time at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, the Rapids have won two of the five meetings, with three draws.
  • The Rapids have not won at Kansas City since 2002, a 2-1 win at Arrowhead Stadium. Sporting have won seven of the 11 meetings since with four draws.
  • The teams also met in the Western Conference Semifinals a year ago, Sporting winning both legs 2-0 to advance 4-0 on aggregate.
  • Coaches record: Oscar Pareja vs. KC: first game ... Peter Vermes vs. COL: P5 W1 L0 D4

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids completed their long road swing with a defeat, coming off a layoff with a 2-0 loss to D.C. United on Wednesday evening at RFK Stadium. The Rapids are in fifth place in the Western Conference with 15 points from 11 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: Rapids crash in the Capital

LAST MATCH

  • United took the lead in the 25th minute. Lewis Neal picked up a loose ball in midfield with space to roam, and made his way towards goal before picking out Dwayne De Rosario's run from the right. The Canadian international slipped a shot past Matt Pickens from inside the area.
  • The home side finished off the match on the hour. Neal picked up a loose clearance and sent a cross in for Branko Boskovic, and the resulting header was saved by Pickens. But Hamdi Salihi was right there to knock in the rebound from close range.
  • Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made two changes to the side that recorded a 2-0 win at FC Dallas. Hunter Freeman came in at right back for Kosuke Kimura, and Conor Casey started in attack for Omar Cummings.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-3-1-2): Matt Pickens - Hunter Freeman, Drew Moor, Tyrone Marshall, Luis Zapata, Brian Mullan (Kamani Hill 46), Jeff Larentowicz, Jaime Castrillon (Wells Thompson 78) - Martin Rivero - Tony Cascio, Conor Casey (Edu 65).

TEAM NEWS

Casey reacts to first start of the season

  • The Rapids concluded their three-game road swing with two losses in three games. They now return home for five out of the next six games, with only a trip to Vancouver ahead before early July.
  • Conor Casey made his first start since July 16, 2011, when he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon 38 minutes into a match at Seattle. He had appeared in two of the last three matches as a substitute.
  • "Conor is in the process. He's still in the preseason mode since he was out of the training. Now he's getting back," said Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja. "Today we were planning on giving him a half, maybe a little bit more. He was up, supporting up top, and that's important for the group. By the end, you want to keep him on the field, but we have a quick turnaround with a game on Saturday. We have to be progressive with Conor. It's a process for him, and he's going to need a couple games."
  • Said Casey: "It felt good. It was nice to know I got 60 minutes or so. It was good to be out there. I was looking to get a good run in and sweat. Physically, it's all positive. The minutes were good. I didn't feel too bad at the end, so that's good. I'm really excited about that, and getting back in the swing of it."
  • With Omar Cummings still sidelined with an ankle sprain, Pareja paired Casey with rookie Tony Cascio as he remained with a duo up top.
  • "It was fantastic [getting Casey back]. He's a natural forward, he's a natural player," said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. "He's got tremendous skill on the ball, and that's something we've lacked from the start of the year. I thought he did well tonight."
  • Recent signing Edu made his MLS debut, coming on for the final 25 minutes. "It's hard to say how long [it will take to adapt]. We've got to adapt these guys into the team, and it's a process for us. We've got to be patient with the new players and faces that come to the team, and it's going to take a little while," Pareja said. "I think this happened today already with the group, it helped and provided some depth. We hope the competition will give them what they need to be ready."
  • The Rapids were forced into a change at halftime when Brian Mullan was forced off, replaced by Kamani Hill.
  • "I think the coaches have to depend on the players that have been in there every week. That's me, that's Drew [Moor], that's the guys that have been around for a while," said Larentowicz. "At the moment, we're not holding it all together. It's difficult for the players coming in. It shouldn't be difficult for us to hold it in together. At the moment, we're not doing a great job on the road, we're having difficulty scoring goals, but the season goes on."

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City lost for a third consecutive match, the Chicago Fire coming from behind for a 2-1 win Saturday evening at Toyota Park. Sporting have 21 points from 10 matches, now in second place in the Eastern Conference.

HIGHLIGHTS: Chicago comeback stuns Sporting

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting KC opened the lead in the 31st minute when Roger Espinoza pulled back a rolling pass from the right corner and Bobby Convey lashed it home first-time from the heart of the penalty area.
  • But it all went pear-shaped for the visitors over the final half-hour. First, just after the hour, defender Aurelien Collin took down Dominic Oduro in the penalty area, and Grazzini buried the ensuing penalty kick.
  • A minute later, SKC went a man down after Roger Espinoza was sent off by referee Jose Carlos Rivero for an elbow to Grazzini's face.
  • Sporting were able to hold out until the 81st minute, when Patrick Nyarko picked Kei Kamara's pocket just outside the six-yard box on the end line. Nyarko sent the ball into the path of an onrushing Oduro, and he bundled the ball over the line from six yards out for the winner.
  • Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made no changes to the team that dropped a 2-0 decision to the Montreal Impact at Livestrong Sporting Park.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler (Lawrence Olum 88), Michael Harrington - Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza (sent off 62) - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi, Bobby Convey (Jacob Peterson 78) - C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 74).

TEAM NEWS

My Favorite Player Is... Preki

  • Sporting scored a goal for the first time in 235 minutes, but still saw their losing slide reach three games. Two of the three losses have been on the road.
  • "I think for the first 60 minutes we were an excellent team but obviously some things happened that changed the outcome of the game and we'll be ready for the next one. That's what we have to do," said Sporting manager Peter Vermes.
  • Said goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen: "I think we were back on track today compared to last week where we were not very happy with our performance against Montreal. We showed we are a good team again and we just have to build from that. We played with discipline today and we talked about that before the game. It's very important you are quick in your position and you play from there. I think we were very well organized and we did a good job, and worked hard for each other."
  • Bobby Convey scored his first goal since coming to Sporting in the offseason from the San Jose Earthquakes.
  • "I thought Bobby did a great job of coming in from left to right. It was a great service to the top on the box as opposed to inside where the goalkeeper or defense can get to it or where all the players are recovering to," Vermes said. "He made the correct run, it was the right ball and I think it was a great finish, great timing. ... It was a good action that we work on quite a bit."
  • Sporting will face at least one lineup decision with Roger Espinoza suspended for the Colorado match after his red card. Over the entirety of the season, Vermes has had to make just two changes in the first 10 games.
  • "You could say Luke Sassano," Vermes said. "You could say Paulo Nagamura. You could put Jacob Peterson in the middle. You could go completely different and play a little more defensive. There are a lot of ways to deal with it."
  • Michael Harrington returned to play left back for a second consecutive match, while Seth Sinovic - who started the first eight games of the season there - played in the reserve match Sunday in Chicago.
  • "I think it was good for him, because it was a real game. He got to feel what it was like to get stuck in, go for headers and things like that. They didn't really care that he had a cast on, because they're not on his team. They don't care if he gets hurt again," said Vermes.