Preview: TFC have tough stand vs. East leaders Sporting
TORONTO FC vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
August 18, 2012 (WEEK 24, MLS Game #227)
4:30 p.m. ET (GolTV Can; KSMO)
Toronto FC continue their week-long homestand when they play host to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC opened the stand with a 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers at midweek, still sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Sporting come to town off a 2-1 home win against D.C. United last weekend which moved them to the top of the East heading into the week, two points ahead of New York.
REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. SAR (bench): Anthony Vasoli; JAR (opposite): Matthew Nelson; 4th: Mathieu Bourdeau
MLS Career: 84 games; FC/gm: 24.9; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 24; pens: 23
- TORONTO FC – OUT: GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); FW Danny Koevermans (L knee ACL tear); DF Matt Stinson (R quadriceps strain); DF Jeremy Hall (L ankle sprain)
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: DF Cyprian Hedrick (L fibula fracture); FW Jacob Peterson (R shoulder sprain); DOUBTFUL: GK Jon Kempin (R ankle fracture); QUESTIONABLE: MF Bobby Convey (R hamstring strain); MF Peterson Joseph (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Lawrence Olum (L groin strain); DF Seth Sinovic (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Richard Eckersley
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Ryan Johnson, Torsten Frings. Reggie Lambe, Terry Dunfield, Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry … KC: Julio Cesar, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Jimmy Nielsen, Paulo Nagamura, Lawrence Olum, Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi
ALL-TIME (13 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 9 goals … Sporting 6 wins, 16 goals … Ties 4
AT TORONTO (6 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 3 goals … Sporting 1 win, 1 goal … Ties 3
FUTURE MATCH: 9/1: Sporting Kansas City vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. CT
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. First-half goals from C.J. Sapong and Julio César gave Sporting a 2-0 victory, June 16 in Kansas City. Paul Mariner’s first game in charge of TFC.
- TFC haven’t lost to KC at home since 2007, when the then-Wizards came away with a 1-0 win in the first ever game at BMO Field on April 28. Toronto FC have won two of their five home meetings since, with three draws.
- Sporting have won the last three home meetings with TFC, including both encounters at Livestrong Sporting Park.
- Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. TOR: P5 W3 L0 D2 … Paul Mariner v KC: P1 W0 L1 D0
6/16: KC 2, TOR 0 (Sapong 18; Julio César 35)
- Sporting took the lead after 18 minutes. Chance Myers sent a ball down the right flank to Jacob Peterson on the overlap. Peterson's cross slipped through two TFC defenders in the area, and C.J. Sapong pounced to hammer home on the half-turn from the center of the box.
- SKC doubled their lead in the 35th minute. Graham Zusi sent in a corner kick from the left and Julio Cesar ripped it first-time from just outside the top right corner of the six-yard box into the roof of the net.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-1-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Lawrence Olum, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic - Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza (Peterson Joseph 89) - Graham Zusi (Konrad Warzycha 90) - Jacob Peterson (Soony Saad 73), Teal Bunbury, C.J. Sapong.
- TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Milos Kocic - Richard Eckersley, Doneil Henry, Adrian Cann (Ashtone Morgan 46), Jeremy Hall - Reggie Lambe (Julian de Guzman 62), Torsten Frings, Terry Dunfield, Eric Avila (Luis Silva 62) - Ryan Johnson, Danny Koevermans
Toronto FC started their two-game homestand with a draw at midweek, playing to a 2-2 result with the Portland Timbers on Wednesday evening at BMO Field. TFC is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, with 20 points from 23 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 2, POR 2
- The Timbers took the lead in the 21st minute off a corner kick. David Horst got his head to Steven Smith’s corner, but Eric Avila was on the line to block the ball. But the TFC midfielder could do nothing about the rebound, which was knocked home by an unmarked Sal Zizzo.
- The home side pulled in the 57th minute when Eric Hassli pounded a rebound high into the net after Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts had saved from Silva, his shot coming off a free kick headed further goalward.
- Toronto then went into the lead six minutes later. Ashtone Morgan worked the ball deep into Portland territory before putting a cross in front that was flicked with a header by Hassli to Silva, who put the ball home at the back post.
- But there was one more twist in the tale. An incisive passing movement tore apart the Toronto defense and Smith raced in alone at goal before chipping the ball across the face of goal for Darlington Nagbe to head home and save a point for Portland.
- TFC head coach Paul Mariner made four changes to the team that fell 2-1 to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Ty Harden and Adrian Cann came into the back four, and Aaron Maund and Eric Avila started in midfield, in place of the suspended Logan Emory, and Doneil Henry, Terry Dunfield and Ryan Johnson, all on international duty.
- TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Milos Kocic - Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden, Adrian Cann, Ashtone Morgan - Reggie Lambe (Andrew Wiedeman 46), Aaron Maund, Torsten Frings, Eric Avila (Quincy Amarikwa 59) - Luis Silva, Eric Hassli (Keith Makubuya 80).
- The opening goal was the seventh Toronto FC have conceded from a corner kick this season, the most in Major League Soccer.
- “You’ve got to execute,” Mariner said. “You look at the setups, every single team in the world sets up slightly differently but the one thing you’ve got to do, you’ve got have that desire inside you that that ball is not going to be won by one of the opposition. Clearly, it can’t happen and if it does then you have to react and get it out of your box. And it’s something we’re having difficulty dealing with. The delivery was good but it’s disappointing and it’s not as if we don’t work on it.”
- Said defender Richard Eckersley: “I think we are all disappointed. We’ve come to expect a standard and we let that standard slip, especially giving away another set piece, is lazy in a way.”
- With Ryan Johnson away on international duty, Luis Silva again moved forward to pair with Eric Hassli in attack.
- “Totally different players as you can see in stature but when you look at the feet that Eric has gotten and the feet of Luis, they’ve got beautiful touch on the ball,” said Mariner. “Eric is such a strong guy, he holds people off, he keeps the team playing and if we can get a rapport going with Ryan Johnson and Eric or Luis and Eric or combinations of those people then you start to get something going. Then you can start to read that when the ball goes in to Eric you know it’s going to stick so you can make runs and it can make an enormous difference in the way you set up and the way that you play.”
- Said Hassli: “He is skilled, he runs a lot, his movement is really good. I think he is the best young guy in this league. For me it is really great to play with a guy like that, I’m really happy.”
- Richard Eckersley returned to right back from central defense with the changes in the team, as Adrian Cann and Ty Harden returned from long absences back into the team.
- For Cann, it was his first appearance since June 16, an 11-match absence. The span was even longer for Harden: his last outing was April 7, the fourth game of the season.
- “I think if you analyze the back four, Ty and Adrian haven’t played for, I don’t know how long,” said Mariner. “Anybody who has played the game knows full well that you can train your backside off but as soon as, Adrian knows better than anybody, that whistle goes the tempo is totally different, the level is different, the whole energy is different.”
- There was an injury concern out of the match as Reggie Lambe was forced off at halftime. “The early diagnosis is that he has strained his ligament, which as you know is not good,” said Mariner.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City made it two wins in as many games, defeating D.C. United 2-1 on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting moved back into first place in the Eastern Conference, with 43 points from 24 matches.
- Sporting took the lead just 13 minutes into the match. A corner kick from Graham Zusi found Teal Bunbury just outside the 6-yard box, and Bunbury snapped the header home.
- United answered just 10 minutes later, though, after a determined run and deft pass from Andy Najar. He drove down the right side, then into the middle, and lofted the ball to Nick DeLeon in the penalty area, who controlled the ball and poked it past KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
- After Zusi was twice denied by the woodwork, game-winner came in the 63rd minute. Kei Kamara’s cross from the left side sailed past Bunbury in front of goal, and Zusi was there to clean up, running onto the ball and driving the ball between goalkeeper Bill Hamid's legs.
- Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made four changes to the team that defeated the New England Revolution 1-0 at Gillette Stadium. Aurelien Collin and Neven Markovic came into the back four for Lawrence Olum and Seth Sinovic, and Roger Espinoza and Michael Thomas started in midfield for Julio Cesar and Bobby Convey.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Michael Harrington, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Neven Markovic - Paulo Nagamura (Julio Cesar 88), Michael Thomas (C.J. Sapong 84) - Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza (Oriol Rosell 90), Kei Kamara - Teal Bunbury.
HIGHLIGHTS: SKC 2, DC 1
- Sporting have won back-to-back games for the first time since May 27-June 16, after wins vs. New England and D.C. United.
- "The season is very long in MLS, and sometimes it happens that you can ride away for a while, you can fall off the wave, but the big thing is how fast you get back on again,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “I think that, if anything, we never lost any confidence in ourselves. It's just that sometimes things happen, the great thing is that we've figured it out, we've grinded out some results along the way. Even though we've lost here or there, we came back and got back into the form a little bit.”
- Graham Zusi recorded his second assist in three games. He is now second in MLS with 10 assists. For the second time, he scored a goal and recorded an assist in the same match (also: March 17 vs. New England).
- Teal Bunbury scored his second goal in as many games, and has three goals in the last six games. He has played the full 90 minutes now in back-to-back matches, his first since the start of July.
- “Zusi tries to whip it in near post and I'm always the one usually who tries to make the first post run. I was just trying to lose my guy and it's pretty rare when I score with my head, so I was pretty happy about that. It's my job to put balls in the back of the net,” said Bunbury.
- Aurélien Collin returned to the lineup after missing two matches, after suffering a facial fracture in the MLS All-Star Game vs. Chelsea. Collin started the D.C. match wearing a protective mask, but discarded it early on in the first half.
- “One big part of my game is the header,” said Collin. “I was making a header, and I wanted it to come off the front, but it was going off to the side. A basketball player can play with it. A soccer player, we can’t -- especially a defender, like I am. We head the ball so much, and it hurts when you head the ball.”
- “He was a little out of rhythm to start out with, but then he started to get into it more,” Vermes said. “One area where he was really good was set pieces. Very good for us. We’ve missed that. He’s very good on attacking set pieces, and it’s a lot for guys to handle. I thought in the end, he and (Matt) Besler were very good in the back.”
- Neven Markovic made his first MLS start, playing the entire match at left back. He had made his MLS debut July 28 with a late substitute appearance vs. Columbus.
- “The team is in front of everything: my playing, Collin’s playing, anybody’s playing. That’s the most important thing,” Markovic said. “… I can play on the right side, left side, front, back. I don’t care. I just need matches. That’s the most important thing.
- “I think he still needs to find his rhythm within the way we play, but athletically up and down the sideline, he’s hard, he’s connected to the game, he’s never going to walk off that field and give you less than 100 percent,” Vermes said. “So that’s a big step into this team, because all of our guys, when they’re out there, they play and give it their all. So for him to come out and give the performance that he did tonight is a great effort for sure.”
- Bobby Convey was again unavailable after starting and lasting just seven minutes the weekend before, his third consecutive start. Convey had missed eight consecutive matches before returning to action.
“He’s fighting it a little bit from the frustration perspective,” Vermes said. “I know what it’s like, when I see players like that who want to be out there but just can’t get over the hump. That’s what he really needs. It seems like he just got over the calf thing, and it’s one thing after another. But we’ll get it right, and he’ll be back in at some point.”