The Colorado Rapids take on Sporting Kansas City.

Preview: Rapids hungry for win against road-weary Sporting

A pair of teams looking for a buoying victory meet at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park meet Saturday when the Colorado Rapids entertain Sporting Kansas City. The Rapids have played to four consecutive draws after their 2-2 result Wednesday at the New York Red Bulls. Sporting have lost five league games in a row while on their long season-opening road swing, but got a shot in the arm with a win in Kansas City in a midweek U.S. Open Cup match.


REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Ian Anderson; 4th: Mark Declouet MLS Career: 42 games; FC/gm: 25.5; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 8; pens: 8

INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); DOUBTFUL: FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); FW Caleb Folan (R groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (L calf strain); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain) …
SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); PROBABLE: FW Omar Bravo (sports hernia); MF Davy Arnaud (neck strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: Roger Espinoza (Honduras), Stephane Auvray (Guadeloupe), Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone); Shavar Thomas (Jamaica), Jon Kempin (U.S. U-18 national team)
SUSPENDED: COL: Brian Mullan (through June 26)
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Conor Casey, Drew Moor … KC: Michael Harrington

ALL-TIME (47 meetings): Rapids 17 wins (3 shootout), 63 goals … Sporting 20 wins (1 shootout), 81 goals … Ties 10
AT COLORADO (24 meetings): Rapids 14 wins (2 shootout), 40 goals… Sporting 4 wins (1 shootout), 29 goals… Ties 6
RETURN MATCH: 7/6: Sporting Kansas City vs. Colorado Rapids, 6:30 p.m. CT

4/10: KC 1, COL 0 (Kamara 48)
7/17: COL 1, KC 1 (Casey 74 – Arnaud 20)
• Kansas City has not won in Denver since 2004. The Rapids have won four of the six meetings at home since, the teams playing to a 1-1 draw at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park last year.
• Colorado has not at Kansas City since 2002. In their 10 league games since, Kansas City has defeated the Rapids seven times (with three draws). However, the Rapids have eliminated Kansas City on their home ground twice in that stretch in the U.S. Open Cup, 2008 and 2010.
• Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. COL: P3 W1 L0 D2 … Gary Smith v KC: P5 W2 L1 D2

The Colorado Rapids played to a fourth consecutive draw, a 2-2 result with the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday at Red Bull Arena. The Rapids have 17 points from 12 games, sitting in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Western Conference.

• All four goals were scored in a six-minute span. Colorado took the lead in the 27th minute via the penalty spot. Rapids forward Andre Akpan was fouled by Red Bulls left back Roy Miller and referee Jorge Gonzalez quickly pointed to the spot. New York goalkeeper Greg Sutton saved Jeff Larentowicz’s penalty kick, but the rebound went back to the Colorado midfielder, who coolly side-footed it home.
• The Red Bulls answered just two minutes later. Joel Lindpere fed a ball to a streaking Dwayne De Rosario at the top corner of the penalty area. The Canadian international slid a pass into the center of the box and to a wide-open Thierry Henry, who lashed a shot past Matt Pickens.
• Colorado regained the lead in the 33rd minute. This time, Larentowicz hit from a free kick from 25 yards out on the right flank, his low shot sailing across the penalty area, through the wall and past Sutton.
• The Red Bulls didn’t stay behind long, equalizing a minute later when Roy Miller’s threaded ball into the left side of the area was chipped by Luke Rodgers over an on-rushing Pickens.
• Rapids head coach Gary Smith made four changes to the team that played to a scoreless result with Toronto FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Sanna Nyassi and Wells Thompson came into the midfield for Tyrone Marshall and Jamie Smith, and Andre Akpan and Ross LaBauex comprised the strike pair for Quincy Amarikwa and Conor Casey.
• COLORADO RAPIDS (4-4-2): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace - Sanna Nyassi, Pablo Mastroeni (Joseph Nane 71), Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson - Andre Akpan (Conor Casey 65), Ross LaBauex (Quincy Amarikwa 78)

• While the Rapids have reeled off six games unbeaten, they’ve still recorded just one win since April 3.
• "Maybe tonight more than other games just because we had opportunities to win,” Gary Smith said. “I don’t think in games past, we have developed enough opportunities to say that we should have won, but I think tonight was a different story. We came in with a game plan and I thought we executed well and created opportunities off the counter attack."
• Ross LaBauex made his first MLS start of the season after four substitute appearances – totaling just eight minutes in all. It was his second career start in league play.
• Joseph Nane made just his second MLS appearance of the season, his first since starting April 8 vs. FC Dallas.
• After starting at the weekend against Toronto FC, Conor Casey came off the bench for a third consecutive appearance since missing six matches to injury.
• Jamie Smith missed his first match of the season, while Caleb Folan missed out on a third league match in a row.
• "We’re missing six senior players and I include Conor (Casey) in that because he is still coming back from his hamstring problems. He has been out two months. So we have four senior forwards who could play for any MLS team in this league,” Smith said. “Adding to that Jamie Smith and Brian Mullan, who has been incarcerated for pretty much the rest of the year, you are taking away two of the most senior and creative wide players I have as well. We are digging very deep into our squad.”
• Sanna Nyassi made his third start of the season, his first 90-minute performance of the campaign. He will miss the Philadelphia match after being called into The Gambia’s national team for a friendly against Gabon.
• “Sanna is just finding his feet with us at the moment. Tonight, probably was his best 90 minutes he has had, his best performance. He is an extremely talented boy,” Smith said. “You can see that he is capable of things that the normal individual is not. He has blistering pace and I am pleased for him that he is going away with his country, but for us it is a disappointment because when you see him like that tonight, you can see what he brings to the game and just how exciting he is because he made some very nice openings.”
• Jeff Larentowicz recorded the first 2-goal game of his MLS career. Of the 15 goals he’s scored in league play, four have come directly from free kicks.
• "Jeff and Pablo (Mastroeni) are like the putty that keeps the windows in. You’ve got nothing to look for if you don’t have those players and they are better than that as well. They are such competitors and their talent bores as well,” Smith said. “Jeff just played 90 minutes on the back of a Sunday game, we have had no rest, we jumped on a plane Monday morning, traveled four hours, gone through a two hour difference and guess what? We’ll jump on a plane tomorrow and he will play again Saturday and he will be just as effective. The guy is made of steel. He is incredible."

Sporting Kansas City saw their losing streak hit five games in the cruelest of fashions, Seattle Sounders FC getting the only goal of the game in stoppage time on Saturday evening at Qwest Field. Sporting have 4 points from 8 matches on the season, sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

• Once again, it was late heroics to give Sounders FC the victory against Kansas City. Jeff Parke scored his first MLS goal in seven years, heading home a Tyson Wahl corner kick three minutes into stoppage time for the winner. A year ago, Seattle snatched a late 1-0 win on a last-minute goal from Mike Fucito.
• SKC boss Peter Vermes made five changes to the team that fell 4-1 to the LA Galaxy at The Home Depot Center. Jimmy Nielsen again donned the gloves in place of Eric Kronberg, Matt Besler started in the back for Julio Cesar, and Craig Rocastle, Omar Bravo and Ryan Smith came into the midfield for Stephane Auvray, Milos Stojcev and Graham Zusi.
• SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Michael Harrington, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Roger Espinoza - Davy Arnaud, Craig Rocastle - Kei Kamara, Omar Bravo (Graham Zusi 76), Ryan Smith (Chance Myers 86) - Teal Bunbury (C.J. Sapong 73).

• Sporting have now lost five MLS games in a row and are winless in seven consecutive league games after opening the season with a 3-2 win at Chivas USA.
• “It’s very disappointing to walk away from here tonight without a point, especially because of the effort the guys put in,” said Vermes. “We were organized and disciplined, but we only did it for 92 minutes and 45 seconds.”
• Sporting still have two games remaining on their road trip to open the season while awaiting the completion of Livestrong Sporting Park, now riding a five-game losing streak and a 1-6-1 record overall.
• The last team with an extended road swing to start the season – the Chicago Fire in 2006, while Toyota Park was being finished – started with two wins and four draws in nine games. Sporting are the fourth club in MLS history to start the year with multiple games on the road while awaiting a new home: Columbus (1999), LA Galaxy (2003) and Chicago.
• “It is always difficult, but even more so when you play games like this. To lose a game like this when you work so hard for 90-plus minutes is difficult,” said Vermes. “ … It would be nice to play at home every once in a while but that is not going to happen for a couple of more games. When you travel, you lose a day on preparation and recovery.”
• Matt Besler returned to the starting 11 in central defense in place of Júlio César. Sporting was seconds away from a first defensive shutout of the season; they are the only team in MLS not to keep a clean sheet in 2011.
• “We defended well, we didn’t give them any legitimate chances, and anything they got was on set pieces. We worked so hard for each other defensively and stuck to our game plan and we deserved to get a point out of this game,” Vermes said. “It hurts to give up a goal like that. The work we put in, we deserved something out of it.”
• Sporting have also seen the goals dry up. After scoring eight goals in their first three league games, they’ve scored just three over the last five, blanked in three of those games.
• Vermes was able to make two major additions to his attacking thrust in the Seattle match. Omar Bravo made his first start since undergoing sports hernia surgery six weeks ago, and Ryan Smith made his first start of the season after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason.
• “Both of them were a big help to us on the field,” Vermes said. “With the work they put in along with the rest of the guys, we deserved to walk away with a point. But here we are. Obviously, we don’t have one.”
• On Wednesday, Sporting Kansas City rolled to a convincing 5-0 win against the New England Revolution in a U.S. Open Cup play-in match at the Blue Valley District Activities Complex.
• Chance Myers (9, 19) and C.J. Sapong (24, 88) each scored a pair of goals as Sporting were three goals to the good inside of 25 minutes. Aurelien Collin also scored for Sporting KC, who will now enter the U.S. Open Cup tournament proper in the third-round draw, joining seven MLS clubs and eight teams from lower divisions.
• Here’s the Sporting team: Eric Kronberg, Seth Sinovic, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington, Graham Zusi, Luke Sassano, Chance Myers (Kei Kamara 79), Craig Rocastle (Birahim Diop 72), Omar Bravo (Ryan Smith 58), C.J. Sapong
• “I think based on our performance in Seattle and our consistency in this game and the balance within our team, I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Vermes said. “But again, we just need to be consistent moving forward.

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