Scouting Report: Sporting Kansas City
The Crew returns home this weekend to host Sporting Kansas City, who is tied for first place on points in the MLS Eastern Conference. To help get you ready for another Dollar Night presented by Bob Evans and Budweiser at Crew Stadium, here are a few things to know about the Black & Gold's next opponent:
Sporting Kansas City has won ten games this season to put them in a tie on points for first-place in the MLS Eastern Conference with D.C. United. SKC's success this season has been due in large part to Peter Vermes' 4-3-3 formation, led by forwards C.J. Sapong and Kei Kamara. The two forwards have combined for 11 goals this season. The other forward position in the 4-3-3 has been a revolving door of Teal Bunbury, Bobby Convey, Jacob Peterson, and Soony Saad. Convey hasn't played since May 19 due to a calf strain, but hopes to start in Sporting's US Open Cup match Tuesday night against Philadelphia. The winger could return to MLS action against the Crew on Saturday.
Slowing Kansas City's three forward attack with the speed of Sapong and Kamara will be a point of emphasis for the Black & Gold back line this week in training.
ZUSI LEADING MIDFIELD
With eight assists this season, SKC midfielder Graham Zusi is second among all players in MLS in that category this season. The midifielder's contributions this season has earned him his first-ever MLS All-Star nod as voted on bt the fans.
Roger Espinoza and Julio Cesar typicaclly start in the Kansas City midfield as holding mids behind the attacking Zusi. The three-man midfield has helped Sporting maintain 54-percent of possession in matches.
NIELSEN AND DEFENSE BOAST STINGY DEFENSE
Just ahead of the Crew, Sporting Kansas City leads MLS with the lowest goals against average. Kansas City has allowed just 17 goals in 18 games this season. Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and central defender Aurelien Collin have earned spots in the 2012 MLS All-Star for their contributions this season. A threat on set pieces, Collin has scored three goals to help SKC to its 10 wins this season.
Collin is typically joined in the back line by Chance Myers, Matt Besler, and Seth Sinovic.