Preview: League-leading Quakes travel to face Sporting KC

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
LIVESTRONG SPORTING PARK - Kansas City, Kan.
May 27, 2012 (WEEK 12, MLS Game #120)
3:30 p.m. CT (NBC SN)

A marquee matchup of two of the surprising teams in MLS over the opening months of the season is ahead Sunday at Livestrong Sporting Park when Sporting Kansas City entertain the San Jose Earthquakes. Sporting have hit a rough patch following their seven-game winning streak to open the season, coming off a 2-2 draw in Colorado last weekend. The Quakes have recorded three remarkable late-game rallies, scoring three goals in the final quarter-hour at midweek for a 3-2 win at the LA Galaxy to move back atop the Western Conference.

REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Fabio Tovar; 4th: Landis Wiley

Baldomero Toledo's MLS Career: 134 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 48; pens: 50

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INJURY REPORT:

  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY -- OUT: GK Eric Kronberg (lower back strain); PROBABLE: MF Julio Cesar (R knee strain); DF Aurelien Collin (L knee strain)
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES -- OUT: MF Joey Gjertsen (R knee surgery); MF Shea Salinas (L clavicle fracture); DF Tim Ward (L non-specific soft tissue injury); QUESTIONABLE: DF Victor Bernardez (L knee MCL sprain); MF Marvin Chavez (L hamstring strain)

NBC Sports Preview: SKC vs. SJ

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: San Jose -  Chris Wondolowski (USA)

SUSPENDED: San Jose - Steven Lenhart (caution accumulation; through May 27)

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: San Jose - Ramiro Corrales
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: Sporting Kansas City - Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (46 meetings): Sporting 19 wins (4 shootout), 56 goals...Earthquakes 20 wins (3 shootout), 56 goals...Ties 7

AT KC (23 meetings): Sporting 15 wins (2 shootout), 37 goals ... Earthquakes 7 wins (2 shootout), 22 goals ... Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS):

6/17: KC 1, SJ 0 (Sapong 31)

10/1: SJ 1, KC 1 (Wondolowski 85 – Bunbury 85)

  • This is the only league meeting between the clubs this season.
  • In the first meeting ever at Livestrong Sporting Park, Sporting KC extended their home winning streak vs. San Jose to six games, a 1-0 victory last June 17. The Quakes last won in Kansas City in 2004.
  • Kansas City hasn’t won at San Jose since Aug. 16, 2000, a 3-0 win at Spartan Stadium. On the last 13 trips to northern California, KC has lost eight times, with five draws.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. SJ: P5 W2 L2 D1 ... Frank Yallop v KC: P24 W12 L7 D5

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City saw their winless run reach four games, pegged back for 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids on Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Sporting have 22 points from 11 matches, now in third place in the Eastern Conference.

Power 5: SKC's Collin crazy, not stupid

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting were on top just more than a minute into the match. Seth Sinovic floated a service to the center of the box, finding an unmarked Teal Bunbury lurking, and he made no mistake in burying his header.
  • Twelve minutes later, Matt Besler’s throw-in went right through Rapids 'keeper Matt Pickens’ hands and into Bunbury’s path, who pounced on the gift to knock the second goal of the game into an unguarded goal.
  • The Rapids began their comeback seven minutes into the second half. Martin Rivero’s pinpoint free kick found the head of center back Tyrone Marshall, who nodded home his first goal of the season.
  • In the 60th minute, Colorado once again capitalized on a set piece. Jeff Larentowicz’s freekick from 25 yards out was initially stopped by Jimmy Nielsen, but the veteran ‘keeper spilled the rebound to Conor Casey. He cleverly turned and slotted a ball to Kosuke Kimura, who turned the ball home from close range.
  • Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that suffered a 2-1 defeat by the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Seth Sinovic returned to left back for Michael Harrington, Paulo Nagamura started in midfield for the suspended Roger Espinoza, and Teal Bunbury started up top in place of C.J. Sapong.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Paulo Nagamura (Peterson Joseph 77), Julio Cesar (Lawrence Olum 87) - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi, Bobby Convey (Jacob Peterson 59) - Teal Bunbury.

TEAM NEWS

Power 5: Can Myers take over for 'Dolo?

  • After a seven-game winning streak to open the season, Sporting have now gone four games without a victory. SKC has not won in the month of May since the 2009 season, now 13 May matches without a win.
  • “It was a good result for us on the road,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said. “We’re getting out of here with one point. We wanted to get out of here with three, but this was still a good result for us.”
  • Teal Bunbury was making his first start since the season opener, and didn’t take long to make his mark, scoring just 61 seconds into the match and completing a double before a quarter-hour was gone. It was the third two-goal game of his MLS career.
  • “That first goal was a great buildup by the entire team, and he made a great, great, great finish,” Vermes said. “The second one, he was very opportunistic to stick it in the back of the net.”
  • Bunbury was in the first team in place of C.J. Sapong, who has not netted since April 1, after scoring in three of Sporting’s first four games this season.
  • Seth Sinovic returned to the starting lineup after missing two matches following surgery on a broken hand.
  • “He was decent,” Vermes said. “I think he was a little bit off in his timing, and a little bit of fitness. I think that was a question of not playing for a couple of weeks, aside from the reserve game last week.”
  • Peterson Joseph made his first appearance of the season, coming on for the final 11 minutes. He had been away from the club for an extended period following the death of his mother in Haiti. “He can’t go 90 minutes,” Vermes said. “He’s in form in regards to his play, though.”
  • Paulo Nagamura made his second start of the season, in place of the suspended Roger Espinoza in the midfield.
  • Three of the nine goals conceded by Sporting this year have from free kicks, with two more coming on penalty kicks.
  • “I think you’re always trying to look at the number of set pieces you give up in your own half,” Vermes said. “We’ll take a look at those and see what happened. I only get one look at them during the game. I don’t see the replay. But we’ll look at both of those.”

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

The San Jose Earthquakes made it three remarkable late rallies in as many games, coming back for a 3-2 victory against the LA Galaxy on Wednesday evening at The Home Depot Center. The Quakes regained first place in the Western Conference with 27 points from 13 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: LA 2, SJ 3

LAST MATCH

  • The Galaxy took an early lead. Barely three minutes in, Juninho slipped a ball into the penalty area for Chad Barrett, who then sent a backheel to a charging Hector Jimenez. He then beat San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch with a shot to the far post.
  • The match changed on the hour when Jimenez was sent off by referee Jair Marrufo after a studs-up tackle on Steven Beitashour.
  • Yet it was the Galaxy who doubled their lead in the 73rd minute. On a counter, David Beckham floated a ball to Mike Magee on the left side. Magee faked a pass, shook himself around the goalkeeper and buried the ball into the roof of the goal.
  • But the Quakes came right back down and cut the lead in half three minutes later when Marvin Chávez whipped in a corner kick and Steven Lenhart buried a diving header into the back of the goal.
  • San Jose found the equalizer with eight minutes remaining. Jason Hernandez unloaded a shot from the corner of the area and Beckham got a piece of it with his arm. Khari Stephenson easily converted the resulting penalty.
  • There was one final twist in stoppage time. Hernandez launched a long ball into the Galaxy area and Alan Gordon took advantage of indecision with the bouncing ball, looping a header over Brian Perk’s head as the Earthquakes escaped with a stunning victory.
  • Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop made three changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew at Buck Shaw Stadium. Ike Opara came into the back four for Ramiro Corrales, Tressor Moreno started in place of Khari Stephenson in midfield, and Sercan Guvenisik replaced Chris Wondolowski up top.
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-3-1-2): Jon Busch - Steven Beitashour, Ike Opara, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow - Rafael Baca (Marvin Chavez 74), Sam Cronin (Khari Stephenson 66), Simon Dawkins - Tressor Moreno - Sercan Guvenisik (Alan Gordon 46), Steven Lenhart.

TEAM NEWS

Anatomy of a Goal: Gordon vs. CHV

  • For a third consecutive match, Alan Gordon scored the tying or winning goal in the 88th minute or later. Since being acquired from Toronto FC last July, all five of Gordon’s goals with San Jose have come after the 70th minute.
  • “I think when you bring in a guy like Alan Gordon, who has the fighter’s resolve, he doesn’t give up. He is not disappointed if someone doesn’t quite serve him the ball or doesn’t quite play it up to him in the right manner,” said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop. “... I’ve said it before that there are not many better players than Alan when fully healthy. He is a really good target man, good with his feet, good in the air.”
  • All six of Gordon’s appearances this season have been as a substitute. “We’ve got character and we are showing it game in and game out. We never say die with the characters on this team,” said Gordon. “We have a deep bench, we’ve got guys pushing guys, the guys on the bench are hungry to play which keeps the guys on the field on top of their game. The subs that get in are doing well, working their butt off.”
  • It was the fifth time in the last seven matches San Jose has scored the tying or winning goal in the 88th minute or later.
  • “We love to fight. We are committed to the 90 minutes plus,” said Steven Lenhart. “From the 11 guys on the field to the rest of the team there is no drop off in committing to fight and score and work for the team, it is fun to be a part of.”
  • The Quakes have scored eight goals in the game’s final quarter-hour, most in MLS, and 15 from the 60th minute on, also most in the league.
  • “We just like to make the game exciting. Goonies never say die,” said Lenhart. “I think we are prepared this year. We have put in the work in training and we like each other, we show up every day and we all know we are committing to the 90 minutes, to play together and work for each other. It may not look that pretty but we know we are going to get the most out of our guys at the end of the day.”
  • Marvin Chavez also made a mark on the comeback after coming on for the final 16 minutes, his first appearance since May 5 after suffering a strained left hamstring.
  • “Adding Marvin late in the game was great,” Yallop said. “Marvin only had 25 to 30 minutes in him . . . We didn’t want to risk him [getting re-injured], but we wanted to give him enough time to make sure he impacted the game. And if you look at the game, I think he impacted it quite well.”