Toronto FC vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS Match Preview

TORONTO FC vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
July 26, 2014 (WEEK 20, MLS Game #184)
7 p.m. ET (MLSsoccer.com Stream of the Week, TSN2, RDS2, KMCI-38)

Toronto FC play host to Sporting Kansas City in a key match for Eastern Conference supremacy when the clubs face off Saturday evening at BMO Field. The teams are separated by nine points in the divisional table, but third-place TFC has three games in hand over conference-leading Sporting. TFC return home after stretching their league undefeated run to three games in a 2-2 draw at Houston last weekend, while Sporting extended their current league unbeaten streak to six games last weekend in a 2-1 home win against the LA Galaxy.

REFEREE: Ted Unkel. AR1 (bench): Greg Barkey; AR2 (opposite): Richard Gamache; 4th: Geoff Gamble
Unkel MLS Career: 7 games; FC/gm: 21.9; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 2; pens: 2

SUSPENDED: TOR: Jermain Defoe (caution accumulation; through July 27)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Doneil Henry … KC: Seth Sinovic, Paulo Nagamura
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Jackson, Steven Caldwell … KC: Antonio Dovale, Benny
Feilhaber, Eric Kronberg, Kevin Ellis, Dom Dwyer, Lawrence Olum
DISABLED LIST: KC: Peterson Joseph, ke Opara, Chance Myers
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (19 meetings): Toronto FC 4 wins, 15 goals … Sporting 10 wins, 27 goals … Ties 5
AT TORONTO (9 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 6 goals … Sporting 3 wins, 5 goals … Ties 3
FUTURE MATCH: 8/16: Sporting Kansas City vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. CT

2014 (MLS)
5/23: KC 2, TOR 2 (Dwyer 47, 84 – Moore 67; Orr 91+)

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. KC’s Dom Dwyer scored two goals, including a late penalty kick, but Bradley Orr hit for the equalizer in stoppage time to leave the teams in a 2-2 draw, May 23 at Sporting Park.
  • Over the last four seasons, Toronto FC have defeated Sporting KC just once in five meetings at BMO Field, that coming in a 2-1 victory last March 9.
  • KC has never lost to TFC at Sporting Park since the ground opened in 2011 (4-0-1). TFC’s last win in Kansas City came March 21, 2009, a 3-2 victory at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
  • Coaches' records: Peter Vermes vs. TOR: P11 W7 L1 T3 … Ryan Nelsen vs. KC: P4 W1 L2 T1

LAST MEETING

  • Sporting took the lead just two minutes after the halftime restart. Dom Dwyer took the ball and turned in the TFC end. and sent a pass to Sal Zizzo on the left wing. He raced to the top of the area for a return ball, which he then left-footed first-time just inside Joe Bendik's right post.
  • TFC went a man down in the 63rd minute when defender Steven Caldwell was shown a straight red card by referee Baldomero Toledo for a serious foul on Sporting's Antonio Dovale.
  • But despite being shorthanded, TFC leveled the score four minutes later, with Luke Moore finishing a through ball from Jermain Defoe from inside the area after a giveaway in midfield.
  • Sporting appeared to have hit for the game-winner in the 84th minute after TFC substitute Doneil Henry brought down Igor Juliao in the box, and Dwyer calmly converted the resulting penalty kick.
  • But in the first minute of stoppage time, after a free kick wasn't completely cleared, Nick Hagglund lofted a pass into the mixer and Bradley Orr headed it home from close range to salvage a draw and a road point for the Reds.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Eric Kronberg - Igor Juliao, Chance Myers (Sal Zizzo 36), Kevin Ellis, Seth Sinovic - Benny Feilhaber - Paulo Nagamura, Alex Martinez (Jimmy Medranda 85) - Antonio Dovale (C.J. Sapong 86), Dom Dwyer, Jacob Peterson.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Mark Bloom, Nick Hagglund, Steven Caldwell (ejected 63), Justin Morrow - Alvaro Rey (Luke Moore 53), Bradley Orr, Kyle Bekker (Daniel Lovitz 53), Collen Warner - Jermain Defoe, Gilberto (Doneil Henry 66)

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC extended their undefeated run to three matches, coming back for another draw in a 2-2 tie with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening at BBVA Compass Stadium. TFC sit in third place in the Eastern Conference, with 26 points from 17 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Dynamo took advantage of a gaffe to take an 11th-minute lead. Defender Bradley Orr hit an errant pass intended for goalkeeper Joe Bendik, and Dynamo striker Will Bruin pounced on the mistake and beat Bendik to the ball, slotting home the opener into an empty goal.
  • But TFC drew level seven minutes later. Finding himself in space 10 yards from goal, Gilberto had time to take a heavy touch and fire past Dynamo 'keeper Tally Hall for the equalizer.
  • The home side were back in front just eight minutes later. Ricardo Clark played Giles Barnes into space, and he was allowed to take his time and strike a low, 25-yard rolling shot that beat Bendik to his left.
  • Toronto FC had a glorious chance to again equalize in the 28th minute when Corey Ashe hauled down Luke Moore in the area for a penalty and referee Juan Guzman pointed to the spot. But Michael Bradley clanged his spot kick off the post.
  • But the leveler did come in first-half stoppage time. Luke Moore worked his way past a defender and put in a cross that eluded goalkeeper Hall for Dominic Oduro to bundle home at the back post.
  • TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen made three changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BMO Field. Nick Hagglund came into the back four for Mark Bloom, Dominic Oduro started in midfield in place of Jackson, and Gilberto came in up top instead of Jermain Defoe.
  • TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Joseph Bendik - Nick Hagglund, Bradley Orr, Doneil Henry, Justin Morrow - Dominic Oduro, Collen Warner, Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio (Daniel Lovitz 70) - Gilberto (Jermain Defoe 63), Luke Moore (Dwayne De Rosario 80).

TEAM NEWS

  • Toronto FC drew their fourth consecutive away match with the result in Houston. Following the visit by Sporting KC to BMO Field, TFC head back on the road for four consecutive away contests – all against Eastern Conference opposition. Their next home game will be Aug. 16.
  • “Coming into Houston in July, and after Wednesday’s game, there was a very mental and physical fatigue factor,” TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said. “Obviously, that first goal wasn’t a great one, it was a bit of a comedy of errors, a bit of a mistake but then we get ourselves back in the game. But, when you look at the series, if you take a series against Houston in July, you’d take four points.”
  • Making his first league start since May 23, Gilberto scored his second MLS goal with Toronto FC, his first since June 27. Gilberto had made appearances as a substitute in three of the previous seven league games.
  • “I thought Gilberto was fantastic – I thought he was magnificent, actually. His goal was a well-taken goal, some of his runs off the shoulder,” Nelsen said. “Remember, he hasn’t had many minutes. Especially with the humidity, I would have liked to keep him going but he was just starting to fade. I thought that 65 minutes would do him a world of good and the goal was good as well.”
  • Jermain Defoe had started 10 consecutive league matches before moving to the substitutes’ bench for the Houston match. But he will be suspended for the Sporting contest due to yellow card accumulation.
  • “It shows you that even if Jermain’s not there, we’re still a very attacking team, a very dynamic team going forward,” Nelsen said. “The guys on the team are cheering [Gilberto] on more than anybody; he’s such a lovely lad, and he works so hard. His teammates are probably more happy than he is.”
  • Dominic Oduro scored his second goal since coming to TFC, while also adding an assist. It was the sixth time in his MLS career he had scored a goal and added an assist in the same game.
  • “It’s always good to score against your former team. The whole idea of it boosts you up a little bit, but I always want to score against any team no matter what. Sometimes when it’s against your former team it’s bittersweet,” said Oduro.
  • On Wednesday, Toronto FC fell 3-2 to Tottenham Hotspur FC of the English Premier League in a friendly at BMO Field. Andrew Wiedeman (65) and Jordan Hamilton (73) netted as TFC clawed its way back from a firsthalf hole, but Andros Townsend hit for the winner in the 85th minute.
  • Here’s the TFC team: Chris Konopka (Quillan Roberts 45’); Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry (Nick Hagglund 45’), Bradley Orr (Ryan Richter 45’), Jeremy Hall; Dominic Oduro (Dwayne De Rosario 45’), Collen Warner (Jonathan Osorio 45’), Kyle Bekker, Daniel Lovitz; Jermain Defoe (Andrew Wiedeman 45’), Gilberto (Jordan Hamilton 45’)

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City extended their undefeated run to six matches with a third consecutive victory, defeating the LA Galaxy 2-1 on Saturday evening at Sporting Park. Sporting lead the Eastern Conference with 35 points from 20 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting took the lead in the 10th minute. A foul outside the penalty area gave the home side the chance, and Benny Feilhaber curled a hard strike into the upper left corner of the goal past goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
  • SKC doubled their lead in the 61st minute. Penedo saved substitute Jacob Peterson's header off the crossbar following a corner kick, but Lawrence Olum was right there to head in from close range.
  • The Galaxy tightened things in the 79th minute. After a failed clearance on a Galaxy corner kick, Robbie Keane ran onto substitute Bradford Jamieson IV's flick-on header and sent a rolling shot inside the left-hand post.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that defeated the Columbus Crew 2-1 at Crew Stadium. Graham Zusi came back into the midfield in place of Mikey Lopez, and Antonio Dovale returned on a flank in place of C.J. Sapong.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Andy Gruenebaum - Igor Juliao (Kevin Ellis 83), Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Lawrence Olum - Benny Feilhaber, Graham Zusi - Antonio Dovale (Jacob Peterson 46), Dom Dwyer, Soony Saad (C.J. Sapong 73).

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting Kansas City won a third consecutive game in league play for the first time this season. They extended their undefeated streak to six games overall, their last loss coming May 31 in a 1-0 loss at D.C. United.
  • “There were things that happened that we got better with. What we didn't do, we didn't give up anything of major consequence in the game. … The long and short of it is that was a good three points for us,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “I thought we did well and I thought that we were pretty organized. We had some very good moments of possession and created some very good chances. We had good opportunities and I think we did a good job managing the game and getting out of there with three points.”
  • Benny Feilhaber scored for a second consecutive game, and now has three goals for the league campaign. His single season high in MLS is four goals, which he scored in his first year in the league, 2011 with the New England Revolution.
  • “That's my favorite spot on the field to take a free kick-right up close to the box on the left. It's just about putting it up and over the wall. If you do that, it's going to be tough for the goalie to get there,” Feilhaber said. “That's something we practice a lot of times during the week, and luckily I was able to get an opportunity and put it in.”
  • Dom Dwyer was held without a goal for a second consecutive match, just the second time in the last two months he’s gone back-to-back games without a goal. Still tied for second in the MLS Golden Boot standings with 14 goals, Dwyer was not included in the MLS All-Star team that will face Bayern München.
  • “It's hard to leave guys off that have been very successful, such as him – over the course of this year, especially, and toward the end of last year and what he did in USL,” Vermes said. “But it is what it is, and the good thing is, it'll keep him hungry for the rest of the season, that's for sure. He's always hungry. But this will give him a little more bite, which is great.”
  • Before the game, Sporting announced U.S. national team performers Graham Zusi and Matt Besler were signed to long-term Designated Player contracts with the club.
  • “There are things that we have a clear vision on for the future and we act on it. It was important to get it done because we have a lot of games to play and we want to win,” Vermes said. “And we want to make sure we've got the best players as a part of our organization, and that's what these guys are. That's why we wanted to get it done as quickly as possible.”
  • On Wednesday, Sporting fell 4-1 to Manchester City at Sporting Park in a meeting of the reigning
  • champions of Major League Soccer and the English Premier League. C.J. Sapong scored the only SKC goal (30); Manchester City scored twice in each half.
  • Here’s the Sporting team: Andy Gruenebaum (Jon Kempin 46); Igor Juliao (Jacob Peterson 46), Aurelien Collin (Erik Palmer-Brown 46), Matt Besler (Kevin Ellis 46), Seth Sinovic (Victor Munoz 46 ); Lawrence Olum (Jorge Claros 46), Mikey Lopez (Jimmy Medranda 46), Benny Feilhaber (Michael Kafari 46, Martin Steuble 75); C.J. Sapong (Sal Zizzo 46), Dom Dwyer ( Claudio Bieler 46), Soony Saad (Antonio Dovale 46)