Sporting Kansas City vs. DC United | MLS Match Preview

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs D.C. UNITED
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
Oct. 18, 2013 (WEEK 34, MLS Game #305)
7 p.m. CT (NBC SN; TSN2)

With a chance to still claim the Supporters’ Shield ahead, Sporting Kansas City play host to a D.C. United side looking to avoid making history when the teams meet Friday evening at Sporting Park before an NBC Sports Network audience. Sporting are one of two teams to have clinched berths in the MLS Cup Playoffs, after their scoreless draw at Houston last week, and are a point out of the top spot overall. United are looking for a first road win this season and aiming not to have the fewest wins in a league campaign in MLS history, coming off a 1-1 home draw with Philadelphia.

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE (PDF)

REFEREE: Chris Penso. AR1 (bench): Craig Lowry; AR2 (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 48 games; FC/gm: 22.6; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 13; pens: 15

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: KC: Aurelien Collin (caution accumulation; through Oct. 20)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Claudio Bieler, Benny Feilhaber, Peterson Joseph, Lawrence Olum, Seth Sinovic … DC: Chris Korb, Perry Kitchen
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Paulo Nagamura, Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Oriol Rosell … DC: John Thorrington, Daniel Woolard, Kyle Porter, Dennis Iapichino, Luis Silva, Dejan Jakovic, James Riley
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (47 meetings): Sporting 19 wins (0 shootout), 72 goals … United 18 wins (1 shootout), 62 goals … Ties 10
AT KC (24 meetings): Sporting 13 wins (0 shootout), 46 goals … United 6 wins (1 shootout), 28 goals … Ties 5

2013 (MLS):
4/5: KC 1, DC 0 (Bieler 89)
5/19: DC 1, KC 1 (Porter 65 – Opara 60)

  • The teams are meeting for the third time this season. Claudio Bieler’s goal in the 89th minute gave Sporting a 1-0 home win on April 5; the teams traded goals midway through the second half in a 1-1 draw May 19 at RFK Stadium.
  • Sporting KC have a six-game undefeated streak alive vs. D.C. United. The last D.C. victory in the series came May 5, 2010 at RFK Stadium.
  • United have not won in Kansas City since 2007. In the eight visits since, Sporting have won five games with three ties; that includes two wins and two draws in four meetings all-time at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, and victories in all three meetings at Sporting Park.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. DC: P10 W6 L2 T2 … Ben Olsen vs. KC: P6 W0 L5 T1

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • Kansas City took the lead at the hour mark. Via a corner kick by Graham Zusi, defender Ike Opara jumped to head the ball and the ball sailed past, deflecting off the head of United defender Ethan White and into the net.
  • But the home side were even five minutes later. Chris Pontius delivered a beautiful ball from the left flank to Kyle Porter, and he slipped a picture-perfect finish inside the back post from inside the goal area.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Chris Korb, Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard - Kyle Porter, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon, Taylor Kemp (Chris Pontius 46) - Dwayne De Rosario (Carlos Ruiz 90), Casey Townsend (Lionard Pajoy 59).
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-1-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Mechack Jerome, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber (Kei Kamara 64) - Peterson Joseph (Lawrence Olum 46) - Graham Zusi, Claudio Bieler, Jacob Peterson (Josh Gardner 76)

 

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City completed their two-game road swing unbeaten, reaching a scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 9 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Sporting are in third place in the Eastern Conference with 51 points from 32 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen was called upon to make four saves in keeping the clean sheet, including three saves in the opening seven minutes of the match. Two of the shots were from Dynamo striker Will Bruin from point blank range.
  • The Dynamo came closest to scoring on the stroke of halftime, when Aurelien Collin headed a Brad Davis free kick off the line. Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall was required to make just one save for the shutout.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that defeated the Columbus Crew 1-0 at Crew Stadium. Aurelien Collin and Oriol Rosell came back into the team with Matt Besler and Graham Zusi on U.S. national team duty.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Ike Opara, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic - Lawrence Olum, Oriol Rosell - C.J. Sapong, Peterson Joseph, Soony Saad (Jacob Peterson 59) - Dom Dwyer (Teal Bunbury 74)

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting became the second team to clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs, joining the New York Red Bulls from the Eastern Conference. No teams from the West have yet clinched a place.
  • “We knew it was going to be like this going into the end of the season,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said. “For us, it's important that we continue to keep getting better and to get points wherever we can. I think this was a great road point for us. If you would have said that we'd get four points out of our two next road games, I think most people would have said, 'That's great. That's excellent.' So it's a good place to be at the moment.”
  • Sporting have not allowed a goal in back-to-back games, their first consecutive matches without conceding since five straight shutouts March 16-April 17, part of a 546-minute shutout run, the longest in MLS this season.
  • It was the 12th shutout this season for SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, tying him for the MLS lead along with Philadelphia’s Zac MacMath and Portland’s Donovan Ricketts.
  • “Jimmy always finds a way to keep us in the game,” Vermes said. “He's done that since he's been here, and I've never seen anything different from him. He came up really big for us early on.”
  • Said Nielsen: “After the game I think we should be happy with the one point. I think we got better and better into the game. We got better organized. We were struggling a little bit to keep possession in the first half, but I think in the second half we were a lot better from our side.”
  • With Aurelien Collin receiving a yellow card that put him over the limit, Sporting requested the release of Matt Besler from U.S. national team camp, and he returned to the MLS side following the Jamaica match.
  • “We had a pre-agreement that we knew [Aurelien] Collin was in trouble with yellow cards, and if there was going to be an issue in that area, that we would need him back 100 percent,” Vermes said. “So [Klinsmann] said he would absolutely give it full consideration when we got there. We kind of knew after [Collin] got the yellow card, that he was going to come back, but we didn't get conformation until after their game.”
  • Collin will miss his second match in the last three contests through the suspension, after also sitting out the 1-0 win vs. Columbus on Oct. 5.
  • Graham Zusi remained with the U.S. team – and scored for a second consecutive match, netting the late winner in Tuesday’s 3-2 victory vs. Panama. He played the entire match.
  • “If he plays in that game down in Panama, he'll get back Tuesday night and be back with us in plenty of time for our game,” Vermes said. “It just depends on how much time he plays in that game.”

 

D.C. UNITED

D.C. United has their league winless streak extended to 10 games in cruel fashion, Philadelphia Union hitting for a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. United are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 16 points from 32 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • United took the lead in the 36th minute. Played into the attacking third by Lewis Neal, Nick DeLeon found space between two Union defenders and blast a 30-yard shot into the far upper corner of the net past diving goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
  • But the visitors snatched a crucial draw on the stroke of full time. After coming on as a substitute in the 73rd minute, Jack McInerney nodded a Kleberson cross from the heart of the penalty area past D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid for the equalizer.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made five changes to the team that fell 3-0 to the Chicago Fire at RFK Stadium. Bill Hamid came in between the posts for Joe Willis, Chris Korb and Dennis Iapichino started in the back four for Sainey Nyassi and James Riley, and Lewis Neal and Chris Pontius came into midfield in place of Collin Martin and John Thorrington.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Chris Korb, Daniel Woolard, Perry Kitchen, Dennis Iapichino - Nick DeLeon (Sainey Nyassi 70), Lewis Neal, Jared Jeffrey, Chris Pontius - Luis Silva (Kyle Porter 67), Conor Doyle (Lionard Pajoy 87).

TEAM NEWS

  • While United put an end to their three-game losing skid, they still have not won a league game in 10 matches, since Aug. 3. The streak is the club’s second-longest winless run this season (behind a 13-game run March 16-June 15), and the fourth-longest in MLS this year.
  • “We’ve seen this before and you got to go get the second goal and be classy enough to have the composure with the final ball to finish off games,” said United head coach Ben Olsen. “The defense was great -- they did everything I asked of them. Offensively, they did everything I asked of them except the hard part, which needs to get better.”
  • D.C. United are looking to avoid becoming the fifth team in league history to complete a league campaign winless on the road, now 0-13-3 on their travels. The last to have completed an MLS season without a road victory was Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2011.
  • United must also win one of their two final matches this season to avoid setting the MLS record for fewest wins in a season (currently four, by Chivas USA in 2005).
  • Nick DeLeon scored his second goal of the season, his first coming on Aug. 31. But he was forced off the field in the 70th minute with an injury.
  • “In the numbers department, it has been a slow year, but when Nick’s healthy and fit, there are not many better than him. He’s a special player,” Olsen said. “… He has a groin problem. He’s been battling it and trained very scarcely this week, and he started feeling his groin around five minutes before we took him out. We wanted every second out of him, but we don’t need him pulling a groin right now.”
  • For a second consecutive match, Perry Kitchen slotted into central defense, playing alongside Daniel Woolard. Lewis Neal made his first league start since Sept. 14, coming into central midfield.
  • “Perry [Kitchen] has all the qualities you want in a center back: focus, concentration, physicality and calmness on the ball. He certainly could be an option there, but I also really like him in that holding midfield spot,” Olsen said. “It’s a luxury to have a guy who can play both. The reason he is there now is more out of necessity than it is to take a look at it from a tactical standpoint.”
  • Dennis Iapichino made his second start with United since coming to the club from Montreal, playing the full match at left back.
  • “The defense did extremely well. I’m not going to lie. Perry [Kitchen], he’s been used to the defensive mid role throughout the season. So through injuries, he’s had to adjust and he did well as a center back. [Daniel] Woolard’s always clean and he’s very sharp in the back. We know Dennis’ skill. We know his talent. We know he can get the job done,” said goalkeeper Bill Hamid.