MLS Match Preview: Crew vs. Sporting KC

Black & Gold take on Sporting KC in Eastern Conference clash

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs COLUMBUS CREW
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
June 29, 2013 (WEEK 18, MLS Game #157) 7:30 p.m. CT (KSMO; FS-OH)

Sporting Kansas City will be looking to reestablish its home form when long-time rivals Columbus Crew come calling on Saturday evening at Sporting Park. SKC is winless in its last four league games overall, and hasn’t won at home in nearly two months, after a 2-2 draw at FC Dallas last weekend. The Crew hit the road following a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire last weekend at Crew Stadium.

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REFEREE: Juan Guzman. AR1 (bench): James Conlee; AR2 (opposite): Chris Strickland; 4th: Edvin Jurisevic
MLS Career: 29 games; FC/gm: 24.9; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 9; pens: 6

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: KC: C.J. Sapong (through June 30) … CLB: Matias Sanchez (caution accumulation; through June 30)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: KC: Seth Sinovic
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CLB: Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: KC: Mikey Lopez (USA U-20) … CLB: Wil Trapp (USA U-20)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (46 meetings): Sporting 19 wins (2 shootout), 68 goals … Crew 21 wins (0 shootout), 75 goals … Ties 6
AT KC (21 meetings): Sporting 10 wins (1 shootout), 33 goals … Crew 9 wins (0 shootout), 36 goals … Ties 2
RETURN MATCHES: 9/7: Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m. CT; 10/5: Columbus Crew vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS)
7/14: CLB 0, KC 2 (Peterson 6; Bunbury 82)
7/28: KC 1, CLB 2 (Kamara 8 – Arrieta 17, 34)
10/7: CLB 1, KC 1 (Gaven 91+ -- Sapong 10)

  • The Crew have won on four of their last five visits to Kansas City, including a 2-1 win last July 28 in the only encounter at Sporting Park.
  • SKC’s only home win in the series since 2008 came in the first meeting at Sporting Park, in 2011.
  • Since the 2008 season, the Crew have won seven meetings, SKC has won three, with two draws.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. CLB: P7 W3 L3 T1 … Robert Warzycha vs. KC: P11 W7 L3 T1

SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City saw their winless run extended to four games in dramatic circumstances, FC Dallas scoring two late goals for a 2-2 draw on Saturday evening in Frisco. Sporting are in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points from 15 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Sporting took the lead from the penalty spot two minutes before halftime. Even though SKC center back Aurélien Collin knocked home a rebound following a scramble in the area after a free kick, referee Mark Geiger waved off the goal and awarded a penalty kick for a foul by FCD's Andrew Jacobson. Kei Kamara ensured KC would lead by converting from the spot.
  • Sporting doubled their lead early in the second half when Graham Zusi sent in a corner from the left and the ball took a bounce before ricocheting off FCD midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson and into the goal.
  • The hosts were given a lifeline in the 68th minute when KC's C.J. Sapong was sent off for knocking a ball onto fallen Jacobson during a stoppage in play.
  • FC Dallas took advantage to start their comeback in the 88th minute. Ramon Nuñez floated in a cross from the left side of the box that Jacobson flicked past Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen with a glancing header.
  • Two minutes later, Walker Zimmerman scored his first professional goal off a freekick sent in by David Ferreira from the right corner to secure a share of the points.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made four changes to the team that suffered a 2-1 loss to the Montréal Impact at Sporting Park. Matt Besler and Chance Myers came into the back four for Ike Opara and Seth Sinovic, and Graham Zusi and C.J. Sapong came into the team for Peterson Joseph and Jacob Peterson.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Mechack Jerome, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Chance Myers - Oriol Rosell (Jacob Peterson 88), Paulo Nagamura (Lawrence Olum 56) - Graham Zusi - Kei Kamara, Claudio Bieler (Teal Bunbury 74), C.J. Sapong (sent off 68).

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting KC saw their winless streak extended to four games with their third draw in that time after the FC Dallas comeback in Frisco.
  • “They're the team with the most points in the league at this point, unbeaten at home, and we're leading 2-0 until we went a man down,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said. “We did a good job to get out of here with a point. I'm not saying that's where we wanted to be.”
  • It was the fourth time this season SKC failed to take the full points after scoring first (5-2-2 in those games), matching the most times in MLS this year. Three of those games have come during the winless run.
  • “We didn’t give much away. We were managing the game really well. At that point, obviously, we got the red card and then they were throwing a lot of numbers forward,” Vermes said. “It’s disappointing from the perspective we put a lot of good work into the game and we had good control of it. That part was disappointing.”
  • Sporting scored for a second consecutive game from a penalty kick. The last SKC player to score from run of play came May 26, when Kei Kamara scored his first goal in his return.
  • Kamara made his second consecutive start and scored his second goal since his return from loan to Norwich City FC of the English Premier League.
  • “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing at home or away. We’re a team that goes at it. We’re not going to sit back and wait for anyone,” said Kamara. “Unfortunately, we got the red card which made us sit back a bit but we were still able to go forward and Dallas knows that. But those were three points for us to take home and we just gave it away to them. It feels like a defeat to us.”
  • C.J. Sapong made his first start since May 8, having played just 16 minutes in league play since, but will certainly miss the Columbus game through suspension.
  • Teal Bunbury made his league season debut, coming on for the final 16 minutes. Bunbury had played in the U.S. Open Cup match vs. Orlando City SC.
  • “He’s getting there. It’s really minutes. Even that was a far stretch for him, getting 20 minutes. He was really starting to suck wind there the last five minutes of the game because it wound up being 25 because of the extra time,” said Vermes. “But, he is coming along. He is. The good thing is he’s back.”
  • Chance Myers made his first start since May 8, coming back in at right back, and Graham Zusi and Matt Besler returned from international duty after missing the Montréal match.

READ: Dom Dwyer recalled by Sporting Kansas City from Orlando City SC loan

COLUMBUS CREW
The Columbus Crew couldn’t make it back-to-back wins at home, the Chicago Fire coming back from an early deficit to record a 2-1 win Saturday evening at Crew Stadium. The Crew are in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 20 points from 16 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew were staked to an early lead. Dominic Oduro stripped defender Austin Berry and dribbled into the box, but goalkeeper Sean Johnson got a piece of Oduro as he tried to round. Federico Higuaín promptly converted from the penalty spot by drilling the ball under Johnson's outstretched left arm.
  • But the Fire took control with two goals in three minutes shortly after the second-half restart. In the 52nd minute, Dilly Duka tied the match by getting past defender Josh Williams at the far post and getting his foot onto a service from the left flank by Joel Lindpere.
  • The game-winner then came in the 54th minute when Mike Magee beat Williams to chest home a Lindpere cross from the left corner to extend his goal streak since joining the Fire to six games in all competitions.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made one change to the team that defeated the Montréal Impact 2-0 at Crew Stadium. Jairo Arrieta came into the team in place of Ben Speas.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-1-1): Andy Gruenebaum - Chad Barson (Justin Meram 88), Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Tyson Wahl - Bernardo Anor, Danny O'Rourke, Matias Sanchez (Aaron Schoenfeld 80), Jairo Arrieta - Federico Higuain - Dominic Oduro.

READ: Despite weapons like Higuain, Arrieta, Columbus Crew baffled why they can't finish

TEAM NEWS

  • The Crew suffered their third loss in their last five league games at Crew Stadium in the defeat by the Chicago Fire.
  • “We lost again at home where we are supposed to be winning. Sometimes the fortune is not going right. We were so successful for so many years winning the games at home,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. “We have to build our fortress again. We have to make sure we don't lose the game here.”
  • Of the Crew’s last five goals, three have come from the penalty spot. The Crew lead MLS with four penalty goals from five attempts (the attempts tied for the league lead with the LA Galaxy).
  • “We're working on the first touch and turning on the ball because if you're good at that, it gives you more time to look at the goal,” Warzycha said. “We also have to make better decisions around the goal. Sometimes we're taking shots from difficult angles instead of playing somebody in front of goal.”
  • Said Justin Meram: “We're banking off Oduro to pull something magical. Our quality of passing in the midfield is great but we have to go somewhere with it.”
  • Federico Higuaín scored his fifth goal of the season, his fourth from the penalty spot. His only goal from open play came in the season’s first game, March 2 against Chivas USA. Higuaín is tied for most shots (57) in the league and is sixth in shots on goal (21).
  • “He's a set-up guy,” Warzycha said. “He's going to occasionally score. The good thing for us is he's very dangerous on set pieces and he's taking the penalty kicks, which is not that easy.”
  • With Jairo Arrieta back from international duty, Warzycha had a lineup decision to make. When Ben Speas fell ill, Arrieta was lined up wide on the right with Dominic Oduro again reprising his role as the spearhead striker.
  • “That's something that came up just before the game and obviously [Jairo] Arrieta had to play on that side. We didn't want to change anything up front for a reason,” Warzycha said. “That's why Dominic [Oduro] stole that ball and scored through the penalty. And Arrieta had a very good second half, he was very dangerous.”
  • Said Oduro: “I've made my case. The coaches know that if I'm up front I'm very, very productive. I'm not saying I'm not productive on the wing, too, but my chances of bringing goals is higher than if I'm playing on the wing.”
  • The Crew still have yet to win back-to-back games this season. “I think the way we played I can't be disappointed. We created a number of chances, we were quick, and there was a good understanding,” said Warzycha. “We just have to just tighten things at the back. So I'm not looking for a number of changes because I don't have the players. I don't have a player to replace Chad Marshall or Josh Williams.”