Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS Match Preview

CHICAGO FIRE vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
May 18, 2014 (WEEK 11, MLS Game #102)
2 p.m. CT (UniMas; My50 Chi; KMCI-38)

The Chicago Fire will be looking to build on their first victory of 2014 when they play host to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. It took nine games, but the Fire finally ran out winners last Saturday in a wild, 5-4 victory over the New York Red Bulls on the road. Sporting saw their two-game winning streak snapped at midweek, falling 2-1 to Philadelphia Union at Sporting Park.

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REFEREE: David Gantar. SAR (bench): Daniel Belleau; JAR (opposite): Anthony Vasoli; 4th: Robert Sibiga
MLS Career: 26 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 2.7; R: 9; pens: 1

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Mike Magee
DISABLED LIST: KC: Peterson Joseph, Ike Opara
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: KC: Graham Zusi, Matt Besler (USA); Lawrence Olum (Kenya)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (46 meetings): Fire 24 wins (1 shootout), 82 goals Sporting 12 wins (1 shootout), 54 goals Ties 10
AT CHICAGO (22 meetings): Fire 16 wins (0 shootout), 45 goals Sporting 4 wins (1 shootout), 21 goals Ties 2
RETURN MATCHES: 7/6: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, 2 p.m. CT; 10/10: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. CT

LAST YEAR (MLS)
3/16: KC 0, CHI 0
7/7: CHI 1, KC 2 (Magee 38 - Feilhaber 6; Zusi 8)
8/23: CHI 1, KC 0 (Jumper 13)

  • The teams evenly split their series a year ago. Each team won once at Toyota Park, Sporting winning 2-1 on July 7 and the Fire taking a 1-0 win Aug. 23; they played to a scoreless draw in the lone encounter in Kansas City.
  • Kansas City has won three times on their last seven trips to Bridgeview, dating back to 2008 after winning at the Fire just once in the opening decade of the series between the clubs.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. CHI: P11 W3 L5 T3 Frank Yallop vs. KC: P25 W12 L8 T5

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire recorded their first victory of the 2014 season in a wild match, taking an historic 5-4 victory against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Fire are in a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 9 points from 9 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Fire took the lead after just four minutes when a cross from Harry Shipp found the back of the net, as the flag stayed down with a Fire striker in an apparent offside position. But the Red Bulls were level two minutes later when Tim Cahill thundered home a header off a cross from Eric Alexander.
  • The Red Bulls then took the lead into the break when Thierry Henry pushed the ball deep into the Fire end and unleashed a cross that Bradley Wright-Phillips one-timed into the back of the net.
  • But the Fire gained the lead back with two goals within a five-minute span. Quincy Amarikwa beat Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles with a header off a feed from Jeff Larentowicz in the 49th minute, then Shipp scored his second of the day with a low shot in the 54th.
  • The visitors made it 5-2 when Shipp completed his hat trick in the 58th minute, pickpocketing defender Kosuke Kimura before slotting a ball into the back of the net from the left side of the box.
  • But the Red Bulls came back with two more tallies from Wright-Phillips. He first finished off a chested pass from Lloyd Sam in the 66th minute, then converted a penalty kick in the 78th minute after Henry was fouled.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop made two changes to the team that suffered a 3-2 loss to Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park. Patrick Ianni came into central defense in place of Bakary Soumare, and Quincy Amarikwa returned from suspension for Juan Luis Anangono.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-3-2): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Greg Cochrane - Jeff Larentowicz - Patrick Nyarko (Logan Pause 68), Benji Joya (Gonzalo Segares 83), Harry Shipp (Juan Luis Anangono 90) - Quincy Amarikwa, Mike Magee.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Fire put an end to their season-opening winless run after nine games with the win, and became the final team in MLS to win a game this season. The streak was the third-longest run without a victory in club history.
  • "We've had two home games and we've had a penalty kick in the last minute of the game to win it and missed them both. So, we could've been on three wins, four wins, you know, maybe two wins, or whatever and we're not stuck talking about it now," said Fire head coach Frank Yallop. "What I like about the group, you know, they're really celebrating now because they deserve it, you know, we've deserved more that we've got."
  • The Fire scored five goals in a game for the first time since Oct. 23, 2008, when they also defeated New York, then by a 5-2 scoreline at Toyota Park.
  • "They have not dropped their heads, come to a really difficult place to play, and get a result, and score five goals, which is amazing really, in any game, not just coming to New York and doing it," Yallop said. "I'm really proud of the guys the way they hung in there at the end, Sean [Johnson] made two great saves, and we preserved the win."
  • Fire midfielder Harry Shipp became the sixth rookie in MLS history to score a hat trick when he netted three goals in the 5-4 win at the New York Red Bulls. The last player to do it was Vancouver's Kekuta Manneh last season, in an Oct. 9 win vs. Seattle.
  • "I think I was finding spaces in the first half and played a ball to Mike [Magee], scored one goal, but I think we kind of knew going into halftime, I think we knew we could exploit those spaces even more underneath, me coming inside off the left and so I think we really started pressing higher in the second half, trying to win the ball off their back four," Shipp said.
  • Said Yallop: "Harry's been playing really well. Each game he's gotten better, and better, and better. ... I can't say enough about Harry. He's really working hard at his game, he looks like a real player, and I think he's got a great chance at going all the way."
  • Quincy Amarikwa returned to the lineup after missing the RSL game through suspension, and scored in his third consecutive game, and a fourth in his last five appearances.
  • "We were giving New York too much respect to play and we know we can score goals. That's what we've done consistently this year," said Amarikwa. "So, we said in the second half we're just going to high press, what do we have to lose, and I think it really caught them off guard. We put away the number of goals we needed to get the win."
  • Patrick Nyarko scored his first goal of the season, his first goal since Aug. 23, 2013. He also added his second assist of the season, the fifth game in his career where he's scored a goal and added an assist in the same game.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City had their two-game winning streak put to an end, falling 2-1 to Philadelphia Union on Wednesday evening at Sporting Park. Sporting sit in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with 17 points from 10 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Union took the lead four minutes after the break. Cristian Maidana skipped past a defender on the left and unleashed a shot that KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg could only parry in front of goal. Danny Cruz was quickest to the rebound and poked it into the back of the net.
  • Sporting drew even with 10 minutes to play. Dom Dwyer, who had come on as a 71st-minute substitute, played a one-two with Paulo Nagamura, firing the return pass into the top center of the goal from right on the edge of the area.
  • But barely a minute later, Union were back on top. After Andrew Wenger was able to control a loose ball in the SKC box, he played it square to Maidana, who turned home a shot while completely unmarked in the heart of the area for the eventual match-winner.
  • Union had to play shorthanded through second-half stoppage time, after late substitute Corben Bone drew a straight red card from referee Ricardo Salazar for a serious foul on Jacob Peterson just seconds after entering the match.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that rolled to a 3-0 victory against the Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo. Igor Juliao came in at right back in place of Chance Myers, and Sal Zizzo and Claudio Bieler started on the front line in place of Jacob Peterson and Dom Dwyer.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Eric Kronberg - Igor Juliao, Aurelien Collin (Lawrence Olum 61), Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber - Sal Zizzo (Jacob Peterson 55), Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 71), Graham Zusi.

TEAM NEWS

  • The loss was Sporting's first at home since last Oct. 18, a span of 11 matches in all competitions at Sporting Park.
  • We deserved to lose. (Philadelphia was) the better team. They worked harder than we did and they were hungrier than we were. They beat us to all the balls. Very seldom do we get outworked playing against one of our opponents, but tonight we got outworked in our home stadium," said SKC manager Peter Vermes. "That doesn't sit well with me, that's for sure. ... Maybe they thought we were playing the same game on Saturday in Montreal. We just didn't have the juice we normally have."
  • The goal allowed in the 49th minute was the first by Sporting at home since the March 15 season opener vs. FC Dallas. It ended a 408-minute shutout streak at Sporting Park.
  • "We played like crap. We didn't play well," defender Matt Besler said. "That's the frustrating part about the game. We can play like we do one week and then come out tonight and play like we did tonight. It's just frustrating, because it's up and down like that. Credit to Philadelphia, because they came in with a game plan. They worked. We didn't work as hard as them. They wanted it more, and they came away and beat us at our own place."
  • Igor Juliao made his MLS debut, coming in at right back and playing the full 90 minutes. He is the third youngest player in club history to start a match.
  • "I said to the staff before that he was a bright spot," said Vermes. "For a 19-year-old, I thought he played very well. I think he is very scrappy. You have to understand he just started with us. So in a short period of time, I thought he did a great job in the game. He's a bright spot for the team."
  • Dom Dwyer scored his third goal over the last two matches and now have seven goals for the season, fourth in the MLS Golden Boot standings. Dwyer has scored 10 goals in his last 12 league matches, dating back to last season.
  • Following the match, midfielder Graham Zusi and center back Matt Besler left to join the U.S. national team for preparations ahead of the FIFA World Cup.
  • "We should be picking up points at home, so we're disappointed right now. But obviously, it's nice to have another game this week," said Dwyer. "We can have a day off, then go back to training and be fresh and ready for Sunday."
  • Winger Sal Zizzo made his first start since suffering a groin strain in the second half of the April 26 game vs. New England, and played 55 minutes. He had started six of Sporting's first seven league matches.
  • "I felt fine. If I had put away those two (chances) I'd be feeling really good. Unfortunately I didn't and life goes on," Zizzo said. "You have to look to the next game. We won't be thinking about this one if we come out and play well against Chicago."