Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS Match Preview

TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
July 7, 2013 (WEEK 19, MLS Game #172) 2 p.m. CT (ESPN/Deportes; TSN2)

Owners of a six-game unbeaten streak, the Chicago Fire will put it on the line when they play host to Sporting Kansas City in a key Eastern Conference matchup Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. The Fire are currently outside of the playoff placings in the division, but moved closer following their 3-2 home win against the San Jose Earthquakes at midweek. Sporting are four points ahead of the Fire, extending their current unbeaten run to three games following a 1-1 home draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at midweek.


REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. AR1 (bench): Peter Manikowski; AR2 (opposite): Jeff Muschik; 4th: Mark Kadlecik
MLS Career: 155 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 52; pens: 60


CHI: Gonzalo Segares … KC: Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Daniel Paladini, Jeff Larentowicz
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CHI: Sean Johnson (USA) … KC: Mechack Jerome (HAI); Peterson Joseph (HAI)

(44 meetings): Fire 23 wins (1 shootout), 80 goals … Sporting 11 wins (0 shootout), 52 goals … Ties 10
AT CHICAGO (20 meetings): Fire 15 wins (0 shootout), 43 goals … Sporting 3 wins (0 shootout), 19 goals …Ties 2
FUTURE MATCH: Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. CT (NBCSN)

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. They played to a scoreless draw on March 16 at Sporting Park.
  • Kansas City had gone a couple of seasons and four matches in all since defeating Chicago before their 2-0 victory in the final meeting last year, Sept. 28 at Sporting Park.
  • Kansas City has won twice on their last five trips to Bridgeview, dating back to 2008 – after winning at the Fire just once in the opening decade of the series between the clubs.
  • KC has twice defeated Chicago in a final – MLS Cup 2000 and the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
  • Coaches' recordS: Frank Klopas vs. KC: P5 W2 L1 D2 … Peter Vermes v CHI: P9 W2 L4 D3

3/16: KC 0, CHI 0

  • Sporting put 20 attempts toward goal, only three of which were on frame, and all of those straight at Fire 'keeper Sean Johnson.
  • The Fire nearly stole all three points in second-half stoppage time, when Dan Paladini broke in alone on goal. But Sporting 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen made the save, his only one of the match.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Mechack Jerome, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Benny Feilhaber (Soony Saad 77), Paulo Nagamura - C.J. Sapong, Claudio Bieler, Graham Zusi.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Michael Videira (Wells Thompson 83), Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Jeff Larentowicz, Daniel Paladini - Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe, Dilly Duka (Alex 59) - Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos 67).

The Chicago Fire stretched their undefeated run to six games, getting a late goal for a 3-2 win against the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points from 16 matches.


  • The Earthquakes opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Alan Gordon flicked a header from a Steven Beitashour cross just over Fire 'keeper Paolo Tornaghi, which knocked off the crossbar and straight back to Gordon for an easy putaway.
  • But the Fire pulled level in the 36th minute. Freed down the left, Gonzalo Segares sent in a cross that Dilly Duka bounced off the ground with his shot and over San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.
  • The home side then took the lead two minutes after the halftime break when Duka played a cross to Patrick Nyarko, who put home a sliding finish from the goalmouth.
  • The Quakes got some good fortune in the 72nd minute, when Jalil Anibaba and Joel Lindpere deflected a San Jose corner kick past Tornaghi. But the game-winner came in the 84th minute when a backdoor pass from Mike Magee found Chris Rolfe ghosting in at right post for an easy tap-in.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made four changes to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Paolo Tornaghi came in between the posts with Sean Johnson on national team duty, and Patrick Nyarko, Jeff Larentowicz and Alex all returned to the midfield in place of Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause and Joel Lindpere.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Paolo Tornaghi - Jalil Anibaba, Bakary Soumare, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Patrick Nyarko (Joel Lindpere 64), Jeff Larentowicz, Alex (Daniel Paladini 79), Dilly Duka (Maicon Santos 87) - Chris Rolfe, Mike Magee.


  • The Fire have now won three games in a row, their only consecutive victories of the league season, and stretched their undefeated run to six games (4-0-2) dating back to May 25.
  • “We kind of feel like we're playing like we should,” Dilly Duka said. “Chemistry builds every day in training, how positive we are in the locker room. We've got so many guys that are coming off the bench that are so positive … Right now, we're in a good place.” While Mike Magee saw his four-game league goalscoring streak – and his seven-game goal streak since coming to the Fire – come to an end, he did record an assist for a second consecutive MLS match in setting up the match-winner.
  • “It opens up everything for everyone because they have to worry about everyone. They can’t double team because it leaves a guy open. We got a lot of chances out wide today because they’re focused on everyone. If they sensed the outside was crowded they’d double team the outside, then Chris [Rolfe] and Mike [Magee] got open,” said Patrick Nyarko. “We played a beautiful game today from the stand point of executing our game plan and breaking down the opponent. We just hope to keep that confidence going for everyone.”
  • Chris Rolfe scored his second league goal of the season, his first since April 14. He has scored in the Fire’s last two games, netting twice in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal win vs. Orlando City.
  • “Scoring goals is always good for an attacking player,” Rolfe said. “The game in Orlando was huge for all of us. I think Dilly [Duka] had a great game, I think Jeff [Larentowicz] had a solid game, and it was probably our most complete game overall.”
  • With Sean Johnson away with the U.S. national team, Paolo Tornaghi made his first MLS start since March 24. He had started the Fire’s third-round victory in the U.S. Open Cup on May 28 vs. Charleston.
  • “That position is never easy, especially when you need rhythm, you need games. I thought Paolo did well,” said Klopas. “It’s difficult when you don’t play in a long time to step in. … He’s an experienced guy even with his young age and I thought he did very well. He does communicate very well with the guys in the back and I think that helps.”
  • Dilly Duka returned to the starting lineup in a wide midfield role and scored for a second consecutive game, also contributing an assist. Duka had two assists in the Open Cup quarterfinal win.
  • “Players need time. It doesn't happen overnight,” Klopas said. “It was only a matter of time [for Duka] to get his confidence, to get acquainted with the players. All that cohesion that you develop, it doesn't happen overnight. You've seen the qualities that he has, and now we need to keep pushing him, because I expect a lot bigger things from him.”
  • There was an enforced change when Nyarko came off in the 64th minute for Joel Lindpere. “He seemed to feel like he didn’t tweak anything but he was really tight to the point where maybe another sprint [could have made it worse],” said Klopas. “You can see the second half he wasn’t really himself when he was sprinting or with his ability to recover back. It was bothering him and I think we took him out in time.”

Sporting Kansas City didn’t make it back-to-back wins but did extend their streak to three games without loss, playing to a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday evening at Sporting Park. Sporting are in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points from 17 matches.


  • Sporting took the lead on 35 minutes. Chance Myers headed a long ball to Aurelien Collin at the corner of the 6-yard box, and while his first shot deflected off defender Johnny Leverón, the defender collected the rebound and put it past Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
  • But Whitecaps FC drew level just before halftime. From a freekick some 25 yards straight out from goal, Camilo delivered a dipping blast into the upper right of the goal that SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen could only watch.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made one change to the team that got a late winner for a 3-2 victory against the Columbus Crew at Sporting Park. Kevin Ellis came in at left back for Seth Sinovic.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Kevin Ellis (Josh Gardner 86) - Oriol Rosell, Lawrence Olum (Benny Feilhaber 53) - Soony Saad, Graham Zusi, Kei Kamara - Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 58).


  • After just one win in their last five home games following the draw with Vancouver, Sporting begin a stretch of three road games out of the next four with the trip to Chicago.
  • “We had a lot of good actions going towards goal but I thought we were a little impatient. We could have moved the ball around just a little bit more at times and found some guys who were clearly open, who had better chances and had better percentage shots if you will,” said KC manager Peter Vermes. “Outside of that, the effort was good. We tried to give everything we had.”
  • Said goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen: “I think we just need to continue what we're doing. We put in a great effort today. We kept chasing and chasing for the three points and it just wasn't our day to get the three points. A little unlucky in a few situations, but overall it was a decent performance.”
  • Aurelien Collin scored his third goal of the season, his first since May 12, in netting the Sporting opener. Collin has scored three goals in each of his three MLS seasons.
  • “In the second half, we had a lot of opportunities. Coach said we did a great job, he was impressed with the way the team played,” Collin said. “Maybe we could have been a little more patient, that's true. We have the opportunity next game.”
  • Soony Saad remained in the starting lineup, making league starts for the first time in his career, playing the full 90 minutes.
  • After coming on as a substitute the weekend before, Kevin Ellis made his first career MLS start, playing left back. “The more difficult thing for him maybe is going forward because he's not used to playing with his left but you know I thought he was good,” said Vermes. “I thought he was good on the defensive side. I thought that even when he was called upon to go forward he was good on the ball. I thought he did an excellent job.”
  • Benny Feilhaber made his first appearance in three league games, coming into the midfield for Lawrence Olum early in the second half.
  • “We changed our formation with Benny first because we were playing two holding midfielders. We went to two attacking so we put Oriol [Rosell] as a holding in that position,” said Vermes. I think we started to get more run of the play at that point or higher pressed up the field. We're playing three games in nine days, sometimes you need fresh legs.”
  • Dom Dwyer made his longest appearance in an MLS game in his career, coming on for the final 32 minutes in place of Claudio Bieler.
  • “I felt I was getting myself into the right positions. I was just trying to be moving off the ball and being an option and our last bit of quality wasn't quite there and we didn't get a goal at the end of the day,” Dwyer said. Said Vermes: “I just wanted to get fresh legs and I think Dom has been in form so that was the decision there.”