Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS Match Preview

March 29, 2014 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #28)
4 p.m. MT (Altitude; KMCI-38)

A pair of teams coming off quality wins meet when the Colorado Rapids play host to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids won for the first time last week under head coach Pablo Mastroeni, defeating the Portland Timbers 2-0 behind a pair of penalty kicks in their home opener. Sporting won for the first time in league play in defense of their MLS Cup title, converting a penalty kick in a 1-0 home win vs. the San Jose Earthquakes.


REFEREE: Jose Carlos Rivero. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Brian Dunn; 4th: Jorge Gonzalez
MLS Career: 20 games; FC/gm: 27.1; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 5; pens: 9

SUSPENDED: COL: José Mari (through March 30)

ALL-TIME (51 meetings): Rapids 17 wins (3 shootout), 68 goals … Sporting 21 wins (1 shootout), 87 goals … Ties 13
AT COLORADO (26 meetings): Rapids 14 wins (2 shootout), 43 goals …Sporting 4 wins (1 shootout), 32 goals …Ties 8

8/31: KC 2, COL 1 (Feilhaber 33; Zusi 88 – Buddle 77)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Sporting have not lost to the Rapids since a 2-1 Colorado win March 28, 2009 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Since then, KC is 2-0-5 vs. Colorado.
  • The Rapids haven’t won in Kansas City since 2002, a 2-1 win at Arrowhead Stadium. Since, Kansas City is 8-0-4 at home vs. Colorado, including a 2-1 win at Sporting Park in the only meeting a season ago.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. COL: P7 W2 L0 D5 … Pablo Mastroeni vs. KC: first game

The Colorado Rapids made a winner of Pablo Mastroeni for the first time as a head coach, getting a pair of penalty kicks on their way to a 2-0 win against the Portland Timbers on Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids are in a tie for fifth place in the Western Conference with 4 points from 2 games.


  • The Rapids took the lead midway through the second half. A ball played over the top ball from Dillon Powers drew Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts off his line, and after he caught Deshorn Brown with his tackle in the area, he was shown a red card. Vicente Sanchez coolly converted for his second penalty-kick goal in the 73rd minute.
  • Barely a minute later, substitute goalkeeper Andrew Weber clipped Sanchez in the area as he raced onto another Powers feed, and referee Mark Geiger again pointed to the spot. Deshorn Brown took the resulting penalty kick and saw it saved by Weber, but Brown was able to bang in the rebound.
  • Rapids midfielder Jose Mari saw a second yellow in the 90th minute, evening the sides at 10 men apiece, but Portland was unable to work its way back into the match.
  • Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni made three changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls. Marc Burch came into the back four for Christopher Klute, Vicente Sanchez started in midfield in place of Dillon Serna, and Edson Buddle came in up top for Gabriel Torres.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-3-1): John Berner - Shane O'Neill, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Marc Burch - Jose Mari (ejected 90), Nick LaBrocca - Deshorn Brown, Dillon Powers (Kamani Hill 86), Vicente Sanchez (Marvin Chavez 80) - Edson Buddle (Gabriel Torres 79).


  • Pablo Mastroeni became a winner for the first time as an MLS head coach, in his second at the helm after being installed as the head coach just before the start of the season.
  • “It feels great. We wanted to build off of last week’s performance. And the home opener, it was a great atmosphere. The conditions weren’t ideal, but I thought the team fought through and thought we had a good performance,” said goalkeeper John Berner.
  • Two or more penalty kicks were called in the same game for the 48th time in MLS history; the record is three penalty kicks in a game, set on 11 occasions. The Rapids have received a pair of penalty kicks five times in their history; amazingly, they’ve converted both just twice.
  • “What I wanted was for the guys to push a bit higher and really take the game to them. Altitude is a big advantage for us and we want to utilize that. And I think in the 65th, 70th minute we really want to press their backs, make them feel the air and get momentum going our way,” said Mastroeni.
  • All three Colorado goals on the season have now come as a result of penalty kicks, two scored by Sánchez and the third on the rebound of a saved attempt by Deshorn Brown.
  • “If the referee calls it, whatever it is, it is,” Mastroeni said. “I can’t override any calls. I can’t take them away. I don’t waste my energy commenting on refs. My focus is purely on what do we need to do as a team to continue on the path and what we need to do to improve every game.”
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna, who made his first professional start in the season opener, was unable to feature after suffering a leg injury in training in the days leading to the match and Vicente Sánchez started in his stead.
  • “It was a very tight game. The most important thing is the three points. We’re getting better, and the season just started, and we’re getting to know Pablo’s style of soccer. We’re very happy and now we’re hoping to win the next game as well,” said Sánchez.

Sporting Kansas City won for the first time in league play in 2014, getting a second-half penalty kick for the only goal of the game in a victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at Sporting Park. Sporting sit in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 4 points from 3 games.


  • The game's lone goal came in the 57th minute. After Quakes forward Steven Lenhart batted a ball during a scrum in the penalty area, referee Ricardo Salazar pointed to the spot. San Jose 'keeper Jon Busch went to his left, and Sporting's Dom Dwyer calmly shot low and behind him.
  • SKC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg was called upon to make just one save for his first league shutout of the season.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made five changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas at Sporting Park. Kevin Ellis and Ike Opara came into the back four for Mechack Jerome and Matt Besler, Lawrence Olum and Paulo Nagamura started in midfield for Oriol Rosell and Jimmy Medranda, and Graham Zusi came into the side for C.J. Sapong.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Eric Kronberg - Kevin Ellis, Ike Opara, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic - Lawrence Olum - Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber - Sal Zizzo (C.J. Sapong 75), Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi.


  • It was the first league victory for Sporting of the season, in their third match. The last defending champion to go that long before their first victory in their title defense was the Columbus Crew in 2009, who opened the season winless in their first seven matches.
  • We've always said that the league play is the foundation to everything that we do and for us to make sure that we continue to get better. Even though we lost our first game, the second one we tied and now we've won. It's a good progression for us to keep going with some confidence,” said Sporting manager Peter Vermes.
  • Sporting have not scored more than a goal in their five matches in all competitions this year, including a pair of 1-0 wins (also defeating Mexico’s Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League).
  • After scoring his first career MLS goal last Aug. 3, Dom Dwyer now has three goals in his last 13 league appearances, also scoring once in five postseason matches a year ago.
  • “I always say, the hardest thing about this game is creating chances; being in and around the goal and creating chances. If you can't create chances, you're never going to score. It doesn't matter how good your players are,” Vermes said. “We wind up creating them, it's just a matter of us getting into that rhythm. I have all the confidence in the world in the group that we're going to do it.”
  • For a second consecutive match, Sporting held the opposition to just a single shot on target for the entire match.
  • “I think a lot of it started with our positioning from the back line to the midfield to the forwards. Dom was doing a great job of putting their defenders under pressure so they didn't have as much time as they would have liked to dump as many balls as they did,” said defender Ike Opara. Finding a way to win that first ball and being well-located with our midfielders and outside backs to win that second ball. I think that was key for us.”
  • It was the second career shutout for KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg. His first came June 4, 2011, in a scoreless draw with Toronto FC at BMO Field.
  • “I'm proud of this win because they are very dangerous the last five minutes of the game. That is something we have been working on, especially with the last few games and we got it right this time,” Kronberg said. “We managed the clock, we took the balls to corners, we did everything right to close out a win and we did really well.”

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