LA Galaxy vs. Sporting Kansas City: MLS Match Preview

LA GALAXY vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY

THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.

April 20, 2013 (WEEK 8, MLS Game #68)
7:30 p.m. PT (NBC SN; TSN2)

Sporting Kansas City put their long shutout streak on the line on the second half of their bicoastal road trip when they pay a visit to the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. Sporting haven’t allowed a goal in more than seven hours, following their 1-0 win at the New York Red Bulls at midweek. The defending champion Galaxy are coming off their first league loss of the campaign, a 1-0 loss at FC Dallas last weekend.

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REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): Eric Boria; AR2 (opposite): Adam Garner; 4th: Ricardo Salazar
MLS Career: 147 games; FC/gm: 24.1; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 32; pens: 44

DISABLED LIST: KC: Teal Bunbury; Jacob Peterson
SUSPENDED: LA: Leonardo (through April 21)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: LA: Marcelo Sarvas … KC: Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic, Oriol Rosell
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (51 meetings): Galaxy 22 wins (0 shootout), 78 goals … Sporting 18 wins (2 shootout), 61 goals … Ties 11
AT LA (25 meetings): Galaxy 14 wins (0 shootout), 44 goals … Sporting 5 wins (1 shootout), 25 goals … Ties 6
 

LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/7: KC 1, LA 0- (Kamara 40)

  • This is the only meeting between the clubs this season.
  • Sporting won the only meeting between the teams a season ago, a 1-0 victory at Sporting Park on April 7.
  • SKC hasn’t lost at home to LA since 2007; they defeated the Galaxy in Carson last in 2010.
  • Coaches record: Bruce Arena vs. KC: P8 W3 L2 D2 … Peter Vermes vs. LA: P8 W3 L2 D2

LA GALAXY
The LA Galaxy saw their undefeated start to the season come to an end, FC Dallas getting a late goal for a 1-0 win Saturday evening in Frisco. The Galaxy are in a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with 8 points from 5 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The match took a decisive turn in the 60th minute when LA defender Leonardo was shown red for taking down FC Dallas forward Blas Pérez in the box. On the ensuing penalty, Galaxy goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini guessed correctly and saved Kenny Cooper’s attempt from the spot.
  • The game's lone goal then came in the in the 87th minute. Eric Hassli’s header from a corner kick hit the crossbar, but defender George John raced in to nod the rebound into the goal from almost on the goal line for the match-winner.
  • Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena made three changes to the team that played to a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC at BMO Field. Greg Cochrane came in at left back for Todd Dunivant, Colin Clark started in midfield for Michael Stephens, and Landon Donovan made his first league start this season, in place of Sean Franklin.
  • LA GALAXY (4-4-2): Carlo Cudicini - A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Leonardo (sent off 60), Greg Cochrane - Mike Magee, Marcelo Sarvas (Rafael Garcia 80), Juninho, Colin Clark (Jose Villarreal 56) - Landon Donovan, Jack McBean (Tommy Meyer 64).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Galaxy saw their undefeated start to the league campaign come to an end, after opening the year 2-0-2.
  • “Tonight is a little bit false because the guys are torn up. We’ve had a tough week, and we played a team that’s been sitting around waiting for us all week,” said Landon Donovan. “We've got to be better. That's a crucial moment where quite a few guys turned off, and it made us bad.”
  • Making his first start of the season, Donovan had a penalty kick saved by FCD’s Raúl Fernández in the loss in Frisco. For his league career, Donovan has converted 28 of 32 penalty kicks, converting another 4 of 6 in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • “It's going to take him a couple of months to get going,” Arena said. “He's behind the group, but he's done remarkably well. Having him back with very little preparation, he's doing all right. He’s obviously got to play better, and he'll get fitter. As he gets fitter, he'll play better.”
  • Said Donovan: “It's sort of indicative of where I'm at right now. I need more practice. When you're in the run of a lot of games and you're confident and you're comfortable, then everything slows down.”
  • Robbie Keane missed a third consecutive league match, this time with a knock on his left ankle, suffered in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal vs. CF Monterrey of Mexico. Keane had missed the Colorado match while on international duty, then the Toronto FC match that followed because of an injury suffered with the Republic of Ireland.
  • Sean Franklin also missed the FC Dallas match with a knee injury aggrevated in the Monterrey match.
  • “I knew going into the game I wasn't 100 percent, but I was going to just try to get through it. Toward the end of the game, I had no legs. I couldn't spring,” Franklin said. “It's frustrating, but it was a big game. I wanted to play and give everything I could.”
  • Todd Dunivant also missed the FC Dallas match with a left leg strain, as Greg Cochrane made his professional debut at left back.
  • “I didn’t think that he really made any bad mistakes, he was solid and that is a testament to our entire coaching staff,” said Donovan of Cochrane. “They not only draft well, they get these guys ready so that if we need to play them. They’re prepared and they’re ready so I really think that he did a good job.”
  • Over all competitions, it was a third loss in a row for the Galaxy, including both legs of the CCL series vs. Monterrey. The Galaxy have allowed six goals in their last four games overall, after conceding two in their first five.
  • “We are leaving guys unmarked in the box. It has happened the last four games now,” said A.J. DeLaGarza. “We have got to get back to getting shutouts. It’s unacceptable. We know that.”

READ: Galaxy's Donovan hopes hiccups are gone: "My hope is that this is the week that it all finally comes together"

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City started their road swing with a third consecutive victory, coming away from Red Bull Arena with a 1-0 victory against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday evening. Sporting took over the lead of the Eastern Conference with 14 points from 7 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came in the 13th minute. Graham Zusi whipped in a corner kick from the right and Aurelien Collin fought off tight marking from Jamison Olave to create some space to head home the ball from the heart of the box into the top corner.
  • SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen recorded three saves to extend his and the club's shutout streak to more than seven hours and five full games on the trot.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes maintained his team for a third consecutive match, keeping the group that recorded match a 2-0 victory vs. D.C. United at Sporting Park.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-4-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Graham Zusi, Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber (Peterson Joseph 70), C.J. Sapong - Claudio Bieler (Lawrence Olum 74)

READ: Record is in Jimmy Nielsen's grasp, but he would rather focus on winning a title

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting moved to the top of the Eastern Conference in extending their winning streak to three games, one behind the Montréal Impact’s 4-game streak for longest in MLS this season. It also started a coast-to-coast road trip that ends with the visit to L.A.
  • “It was important for two reasons: one it was in conference and the other one is that because of this road trip we have,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “We now have to go and leave for (Los Angeles) tomorrow and play there Saturday, that's not going to be an easy trip and to get these points early and not go out there with not as much pressure to try and do that out there was huge. The in-conference game is huge because it's a six point swing as we look at it.”
  • Sporting and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen extended their shutout streak to 499 minutes following the win New York, now the seventh-longest shutout streak in league history. The streak is now the second-longest in club history; KC holds the second-longest streak in MLS history of 681 minutes without conceding a goal, April 19-May 27, 2000.
  • “I think we have to pay attention to having a solid defense, you know just not so much about the shutout but it gives us the opportunity to win games with only scoring one goal or at least get a point,” said Nielsen. “In my opinion I don't care if we win 1-0 or 2-1. The guys in front of me are doing an unbelievable job, they take pride in everything they do and we play with such a big focus and that's the result, five shutouts.”
  • After giving up just three shots on goal total over the first four games of their shutout streak, the New York Red Bulls put three shots on target. In his first seven starts, Nielsen has made just 11 saves.
  • “I always considered Tony (Meola) to be the best big game guy, extremely consistent, would do the business all the time,” said Vermes. “Jimmy (Nielsen) has the same qualities and sometimes is not easy too, playing for us; when in certain games you don't give up many chances and then all of the sudden he has to be ready in the 88th minute, that's a tough way for a ‘keeper to play over a course of the game... for some guys you're getting all game long, so you're in the game and you're in the flow of it and you have the tempo of it, but for him it's very difficult.”
  • Graham Zusi, who led MLS a season ago with 15 assists in 32 games, recorded his third assist of the season on SKC’s lone goal vs. New York, his first assist since recording a pair in the season-opening 3-1 win vs. Philadelphia.
  • The goal was the first this season from a corner for Sporting, and just their second set-piece goal in eight total goals this year. A year ago, SKC scored 10 goals on standard situations, tied for fourth-best in MLS.
  • “We talked about where we thought we could score a goal today with a set piece,” Vermes said. “We talked about some areas that were important to us on those set pieces. I thought it was an excellent delivery from Graham, and then Collin was big-time on the finish itself. He had great timing on the ball and good movement to get to that space.”