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Leg 1
11/23 FINAL
1LA
0SEA
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11/30 9:00pm
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LA
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NY
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Eastern Conference Championship

Chicago Fire aim to "kick start" their season with a second straight win, Sunday vs. Sporting KC

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- No Graham Zusi and no Matt Besler doesn't mean reigning MLS Cup champions Sporting Kansas City are suddenly pushovers.

That's the word from Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop, who hit back at suggestions that the Fire will have it easy when Sporting KC visit Toyota Park on Sunday (3 pm ET, UniMas, MLS LIVE in Canada).

SKC head coach Peter Vermes has his side setting the early Eastern Conference pace (5-2-3), but they come into this match on the back of surprise a 2-1 home defeat to the Philadelphia Union and without the services of some key players though injury or international selection. Along with World Cup hopefuls Besler and Zusi, Sporting will be without Aurelien Collin, Ike Opara, and Lawerence Olum.

“Everyone’s talking about the players they have out and it sends the message that it’s going to be easy for us," Yallop told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday. "It’s not going to be easy. It’s a tough game. We’ve just got to play our normal game going forward, which is creating chances and keeping them off the scoreboard, and that will be our main focus, to stop leaking goals.”

The Fire (1-6-2) come into the game in the wake of their first win of the season, a thrilling 5-4 victory away to the New York Red Bulls last weekend.

And although Vermes will have to perform significant reconstruction to his depleted backline, USMNT winger Zusi is the only absentee from a forward line that has scored 15 goals in 10 games.

“We’ve just got to build on what we did last week," Yallop said. "Obviously the win was huge and if we can put that together with another win in this game, it will kick start our season.”

While Yallop hasn’t been satisfied with a defensive unit that has conceded 18 goals, and seven in the last two games, he has been happy with the industry and endeavor of his attacking group, especially in the win at NYRB. On that day, rookie midfielder Harry Shipp scored a hat trick and forward Quincy Amarikwa continued his strong season with his 5th goal of the season.

“If you look at the way we played the game, we were very good going forward, we weren’t just one dimensional and that’s great,” he said. “We scored from crosses, scored goals from through balls, from all different situations, which is great for any team.

“But we’re also conceding way too many goals. So we’ve got to be stronger and more precise in our defending and continue doing what we’re doing going forward.”