Sporting Kansas City vs. LA Galaxy | MLS Match Preview

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs LA GALAXY
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
July 19, 2014 (WEEK 19, MLS Game #173)
5 p.m. CT (ESPN2/Deportes; TSN2)

A high-profile match is ahead when Sporting Kansas City play host to the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at Sporting Park before an ESPN2 audience. Sporting return home after extending their road winning streak to four games with a stoppage-time winner for a 2-1 midweek victory at Columbus, moving them into top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Galaxy have reeled off eight games now without loss, coming off a dominating 5-1 win against the New England Revolution at midweek at StubHub Center.

REFEREE: Chris Penso. AR1 (bench): Chris Strickland; AR2 (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 54 games; FC/gm: 23.3; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 16; pens: 18

SUSPENDED: LA: Dan Gargan (through July 20)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Benny Feilhaber, Seth Sinovic, Paulo Nagamura … LA: Dan Gargan
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Antonio Dovale, Eric Kronberg, Kevin Ellis, Dom Dwyer
DISABLED LIST: KC: Peterson Joseph, Ike Opara, Chance Myers
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (52 meetings): Sporting 18 wins (2 shootout), 61 goals … Galaxy 23 wins (0 shootout), 80 goals … Ties 11
AT KC (26 meetings): Sporting 13 wins (1 shootout), 36 goals … Galaxy 8 wins (0 shootout), 34 goals … Ties 5

LAST YEAR (MLS)
4/20: LA 2, KC 0 (Sarvas 27; Donovan 74)
• This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
• The Galaxy defeated Sporting 2-0 in Carson last April 20 in the only meeting between the teams.
• SKC hasn’t lost at home to LA since 2007; they defeated the Galaxy in Carson last in 2010.
• Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. LA: P6 W2 L2 D2 … Bruce Arena v KC: P22 W7 L9 D6

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City extended their road winning streak to four games in dramatic fashion, hitting for a late winner for a 2-1 win against the Columbus Crew on Wednesday evening at Crew Stadium. Sporting are back in first place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points from 19 games.

LAST MATCH
• The opener came just before the halftime interval. Benny Feilhaber sent in a corner from the left and C.J. Sapong slammed a free header into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box.
• Sporting went a man down in the 55th minute when defender Aurelien Collin was sent off as referee Edvin Jurisevic showed a straight red card, after he went into a challenge with Crew substitute Adam Bedell, who came down bloodied.
• The Crew pulled even in the in the 69th minute through some good fortune. Chad Barson put in an optimistic cross, but SKC's Igor Juliao hit the cross with his shoulder as he frantically backtracked and his own goal leveled terms.
• When the match seeming destined for a 1-1 finish, Igor Juliao got a little redemption in the 93rd minute. He raced down the right touchline and pulled back a rolling cross that was helped on by Jacob Peterson for Benny Feilhaber to race in and hammer goalward first-time, the ball slamming off the bar into the goal for the winner.
• Sporting manager Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that got a late goal for a 2-1 win against the Montréal Impact at Stade Saputo. Mikey Lopez, C.J. Sapong and Soony Saad all came into the team, in place of Jacob Peterson, Antonio Dovale and Graham Zusi.
• SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Andy Gruenebaum - Igor Juliao, Aurelien Collin (ejected 55), Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Lawrence Olum - Mikey Lopez (Jacob Peterson 64), Benny Feilhaber - C.J. Sapong, Dom Dwyer, Soony Saad (Kevin Ellis 57).

TEAM NEWS

• Sporting recorded their fourth consecutive victory on the road while extending their overall undefeated run to five matches. It’s the third away winning streak of four games or more in KC club history; the club record is five consecutive away wins, set in 1997.
• “At the end of the day, our guys fight back, we do a great job, we hang in there,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said. “We've got a great determination to continue to keep going. We go to other people's places, and we go to play. And this is what happens. You get points on the road.”
• Mikey Lopez, the club’s first-round selection (No. 14) overall in the 2013 SuperDraft, made his MLS debut, starting in the midfield and playing 64 minutes.
• Benny Feilhaber scored a goal and had an assist in the same game for the second time in his four MLS seasons, the first coming June 2, 2012 vs. Chicago.
• “This might be my best consistent form I have been in, probably my whole career. I think I have had a lot of high moments and low moments in my career. I've worked really hard since I've gotten to Kansas City,” said Feilhaber. “It's not really about me wanting it; it's about it being forced upon me because you're not going to play if you're not doing the things that Peter asks of you here. It's really important and it's helped me get that consistency.”
• Feilhaber’s goal was the second Sporting have scored in stoppage time this season to snatch a late victory (also: Dom Dwyer, 92+, March 29 vs. Colorado), and their third overall netted in added time. SKC have scored nine goal after the 76-minute mark this year, tied for third-most in MLS (Seattle Sounders FC have 11).
• “We've been doing it, a few times. Last game we pulled out one late. It just feels good not giving up until the end and to be able to string something together out of nothing sometimes. We've been very successful as of late,” said goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.
• C.J. Sapong scored his first league goal of the season, his first in MLS since netting a pair last Sept. 21 vs. Toronto FC.
• Sporting announced the acquisition of midfielder Jorge Claros and Martin Steuble, but Vermes said it will likely be a couple of weeks before the pair is ready to be selected.
• “Both guys, I think, will fit into us pretty quickly,” Vermes said. “Claros is more a defensive midfielder, and Martin Steuble is more a player like a No. 8 or No. 10. He can play those advanced positions in the midfield. He's got a very, very good work rate, and he's a guy that I think will adapt pretty quickly to our team. I think both guys are very good additions.”

LA GALAXY

The LA Galaxy stretched their undefeated streak to eight games in impressive fashion, strolling to a 5-1 win against the New England Revolution on Wednesday evening at StubHub Center. The Galaxy sit in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 27 points from 16 games.

LAST MATCH

• The Galaxy were two goals up early. Robbie Keane opened the scoring with a tremendous goal in the 10th minute, cutting in from the left to unleash a bender to the top corner from outside the area. Eight minutes later, Keane played a one-time pass from the spot to a cutting Gyasi Zardes, who beat Revs ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth with a near-post blast.
• The Revolution then went a man down in the 29th minute when A.J. Soares was ejected for a studs-first challenge on Juninho. But Dan Gargan was sent off in the 36th minute by referee Ricardo Salazar after taking down Revolution striker Teal Bunbury in the LA box, and Lee Nguyen converted the resulting penalty.
• The Galaxy restored their margin three minutes into the second half. Keane again played provider, driving in a pass from the left side of the penalty area for Zardes to turn home first-time at the near post.
• The rout was complete with two late goals in a four-minute span. Stefan Ishizaki scored directly from a free kick in the 75th minute after his strike took a deflection from the wall and looped into the goal. Then Keane made it 5-1 when he latched onto an ill-advised back pass, firing into an empty net after rounding Shuttleworth on a breakaway.
• Galaxy coach Bruce Arena made three changes to the team that defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 at StubHub Center. Leonardo came into the back four for Robbie Rogers, and Stefan Ishizaki and Kenney Walker came into the midfield in place of Marcelo Sarvas and Landon Donovan.
• LA GALAXY (4-3-1-2): Jaime Penedo - Dan Gargan (ejected 36), Tommy Meyer, Leonardo, A.J. DeLaGarza - Stefan Ishizaki, Juninho (Chandler Hoffman 80), Baggio Husidic (Landon Donovan 46) - Kenney Walker (Marcelo Sarvas 71) - Robbie Keane, Gyasi Zardes.

TEAM NEWS

• The Galaxy extended their overall undefeated run to eight games in league play (5-0-3, since May 21), and their undefeated to seven home games at the StubHub Center.
• It was the 20th time in the Galaxy’s club history they have scored five or more goals in a game, the most since a 5-0 win vs. Chivas USA last Oct. 6. The club record (and MLS record) came in an 8-1 win against Dallas on June 4, 1998.
• “Goals change games. We had number of games where we played well, we keep saying, but not scoring goals. ... When you score goals like that, it makes the game a lot easier,” said Landon Donovan. “It was nice to see it in the second half. It was very professional the way we played and everybody did their part and we countered them with venom. It’s great to score five goals.”
• Robbie Keane scored his first goals in league play since May 25, going four MLS games without a goal, the second-longest league goalless drought in his four MLS seasons (behind six games, April 7-May 12, 2012).
• “We were all really happy for him. It wears on him when he doesn’t score. He’s scored so many goals in his life, so when he doesn’t score, it’s tough,” said Landon Donovan. “He has been doing a lot of good things the last few games. He has done a lot of things that helped us win. Now it was good to see him get rewarded. He fully deserves it.”
• It was the 10th multiple-goal game of Keane’s MLS career, in 70 total appearances. Keane was also involved in four goals in a game for the second time in MLS (also: 3 goals, 1 assist, May 26, 2013 vs. Seattle).
• “He’s picked it up over the last two or three weeks,” Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena said. “Robbie’s going to score goals. Strikers at times get in a little bit of a slump, or they’ll go scoreless for a while, but there’s never a doubt in our minds that Robbie will produce goals for us, whether it’s directly from him or assisting. We know he’s going to be in and around the goal and be dangerous. It was just a matter of time before he hit the back of the net again.”
• Said Keane: “When you see opportunities [vs. New England], most of them are really on-goal opportunities, where you have a chance to score. We’ve certainly created a few chances that we probably should have scored [in recent matches], but I think tonight was the old Galaxy, where we were creating clear-cut chances for people, and that was the difference.”
• A.J. DeLaGarza returned to left back as Leonardo made his first start in four matches, just the second time in the last 10 league matches that DeLaGarza started as a fullback.
• “Obviously the first half we start with A.J. [DeLaGarza] at left back and match up Leonardo and Tommy [Meyer], which we probably haven’t done a whole lot. With Dan getting sent off, it was a good exercise playing with three in the back, so I thought that was good,” said Arena. “They’ve reacted in a positive way all year. As you know, we’ve lost Omar [Gonzalez] for a while, Todd Dunivant really most of the season ... We’ve got good depth in our back line, and I think as we get into the second half of the season, I think it’s going to pay dividends for our group.”
• Gyasi Zardes scored two goals in a game for the first time in his MLS career. He has all six of his goals this season over the last eight matches, since he was installed as the starter in attack (making seven starts in that span, since May 21).
• “He’s grown as a player, more confident. We put him in a difficult position in the second half, having to play out on the right and I thought he was excellent,” said Arena. “He played on both sides of the ball so we’re real pleased with him. He is getting a lot more confident, and he has been a really good player over the last couple of months.”
• Kenney Walker made his first league start since June 1, coming into a central midfield role behind the front two.
• “Kenney [Walker] has played a fair amount for us over the last couple of months and did a good job. I thought he got a little tired in the second half and made the change,” Arena said. “I thought Marcelo Sarvas was brilliant in his 20 minutes; did exactly what we needed him to do.”