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Sunday, July 6th 2014
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Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire | MLS Match Preview

SPORTING KANSAS CITY vs CHICAGO FIRE
SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
July 6, 2014 (WEEK 17, MLS Game #158)
3 pm ET/2 pm CT (ESPN/Deportes; TSN2)

Sporting Kansas City will be aiming to transfer their road magic to their home ground when they take on the Chicago Fire in a vital Eastern Conference matchup at Sporting Park on Sunday afternoon before at ESPN audience. Sporting return home following back-to-back road shutout wins, last a 1-0 victory at the Portland Timbers. The Fire had their most recent winless run extended to five matches at midweek, coming back for a 1-1 draw with a 10-man Toronto FC at Toyota Park.

REFEREE: Alan Kelly. AR1 (bench): Corey Parker; AR2 (opposite): Matthew Kreitzer; 4th: Ismail Elfath
MLS Career: 6 games; FC/gm: 28.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 4; pens: 3

SUSPENDED: KC: Antonio Dovale (through July 6) ... CHI: Quincy Amarikwa (caution accumulation; through July 6)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD:
KC: Paulo Nagamura ... CHI: Mike Magee
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Benny Feilhaber, Antonio Dovale, Eric Kronberg, Seth Sinovic, Kevin Ellis ... CHI: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado
DISABLED LIST: KC: Peterson Joseph, Ike Opara, Chance Myers
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME
(47 meetings): Sporting 12 wins (1 shootout), 55 goals ... Fire 25 wins (1 shootout), 84 goals ... Ties 10
AT KANSAS CITY (24 meetings): Sporting 8 wins (0 shootout), 33 goals ... Fire 8 wins (1 shootout), 37 goals ... Ties 8
FUTURE MATCH: 10/10: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. CT

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Mike Magee scored a pair of goals in the opening 15 minutes, both on penalty kicks, to send the Fire on their way to a 2-1 win May 18 at Toyota Park.
  • Kansas City has won three times on their last eight trips to Bridgeview, dating back to 2008 - after winning at the Fire just once in the opening decade of the series between the clubs.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes vs. CHI: P12 W3 L6 T3 ... Frank Yallop vs. KC: P26 W13 L8 T5

LAST MEETING (MLS)

5/18: CHI 2, KC 1 (Magee 7, 15 - Dwyer 68)

  • The Fire got off to a perfect start Quincy Amarikwa was taken down in the box as he rounded goalkeeper Eric Kronberg following a precise through ball from Harry Shipp. Mike Magee stepped up to take the resulting penalty and kept his nerve superbly to roll the ball into the bottom left corner.
  • The home side then doubled their lead eight minutes later when debutant Erik Palmer-Brown shoved Benji Joya in the back just inside the area. Magee got his second chance from 12 yards and slotted home to the same side to double the Fire advantage.
  • Sporting were a man when Palmer-Brown's debut ended early, in the 64th minute, after being shown a second yellow card for a late, sliding challenge on Amarikwa at midfield.
  • The visitors pulled a goal back in the 68th minute when Dom Dwyer found himself unmarked at the far post to power in Benny Feilhaber's free kick from the right wing, but that would be all the joy SKC would find on the day.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Greg Cochrane - Patrick Nyarko (Dilly Duka 59), Jeff Larentowicz, Benji Joya (Logan Pause 58), Harry Shipp - Quincy Amarikwa (Juan Luis Anangono 85), Mike Magee.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (3-3-2-2): Eric Kronberg - Chance Myers, Erik Palmer-Brown (ejected 64), Seth Sinovic - Jacob Peterson (Soony Saad 84), Paulo Nagamura, Igor Juliao - Benny Feilhaber, Antonio Dovale (Alex Martinez 71) - Claudio Bieler (Kevin Ellis 67), Dom Dwyer.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City won their second consecutive road match, getting the game's lone goal for a victory against the Portland Timbers on Friday evening at Providence Park. Sporting moved into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with 25 points from 16 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The game's only goal came in the 24th minute. Seth Sinovic sent a long throw-in into the penalty area from the left touchline, and after a bounce off center back Kevin Ellis, Lawrence Olum eventually got his right foot to the ball for a rolling shot that beat goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
  • SKC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg was called upon to make three saves for the clean sheet, his league-leading eighth of the season.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made three changes to the team that defeated the Houston Dynamo 2-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Aurelien Collin came into central defense in place of Erik Palmer-Brown, and Sal Zizzo and Jacob Peterson came into the side for Benny Feilhaber and the suspended Antonio Dovale.
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-4-2): Eric Kronberg - Igor Juliao, Kevin Ellis, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic - Sal Zizzo (Alex Martinez 80), Lawrence Olum (C.J. Sapong 56), Paulo Nagamura, Jacob Peterson - Dom Dwyer, Soony Saad.

TEAM NEWS

  • Sporting won for a second consecutive match after enduring a five-game winless run May 14-31. It was their second consecutive shutout win away from Sporting Park.
  • "We just played to our standard in regards to our work ethic on the field. That's the difference," said Sporting manager Peter Vermes. "Obviously we're still missing 13 guys out of our team through injury and guys away with the national team at World Cup. With all that being said, we still have a great fighting spirit with the group."
  • Said center back Aurelien Collin: "It was a very important win, especially after the loss in Open Cup. We're very upset about that. It was a competition that for me and for the team was very important. We didn't do the right job. So coming here and showing the right mentality was the most important thing. After having a win here, it's a great night."
  • After playing in central defense at midweek in the U.S. Open Cup win vs. Portland, Kevin Ellis returned to right back and Collin came into the team at center back.
  • "We still have a lot of young guys that have shown, honestly, a lot of experience. We could have managed the game better in the last 20 minutes. We were losing so many balls. When we were winning the ball we could not have more than two or three passes. They were very good in defense," said Collin. "I'm a bit upset about this, but the defensive work was very, very good."
  • Said Vermes: "Not only was he in a good position all the time, but I thought he was actually good on the ball - made the right decisions. There were times it was difficult, because of the numbers they had in the middle of the park, to play it out of the back - especially up the middle. So he made some good choices on the balls he played out as well."
  • Lawrence Olum made his second consecutive start - his first since May 4 - and scored his second career MLS league goal. He first came in the season finale a season ago at Philadelphia.
  • There was an injury concern after Olum came off the field early in the second half.
  • "A guy we count on in the middle of the park and we had to put a guy in there that normally doesn't play in there. So the fighting spirit was tremendous by the players," said Vermes. " ... I think it's more of a tweak and I think it's good, because we don't actually play until next Sunday so hopefully those extra days are going to get him back on the field because we need him."
  • It was also a second consecutive shutout for Sporting, their seventh of the season, after going five games without a defensive clean sheet following a spell of four shutouts in five games April 5-May 10.
  • "I thought we were tactically very efficient. I thought we made the game very difficult for them. The only thing they really had was trying to pump the ball into the box. I don't think they had many solutions for the way that we played," said Vermes. "I thought at times, especially the first half was a different half, we knew in the second half they were going to push everyone very high up the field and it was going to be a little more difficult."
  • Benny Feilhaber missed his first league match of the season, though he did miss both U.S. Open Cup matches with a sprained left shoulder.
  • "It's not 100 percent, but it's good to go. I'm ready to play. We're not holding anything back in practice. It's just a little bit of a tape job on my shoulder, which I'm used to with my ankles. I'll get used to it with my shoulder as well." Said Vermes: "I'm just not sure. He's starting to get a little contact now, so we'll see. We'll have to make that decision more toward the end of the week, to see how he feels."

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire saw their winless streak stretched to five games, coming back for a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC on Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 15 points from 15 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The match turned in the 29th minute when Toronto's Luke Moore was shown a straight red card by referee Sorin Stoica for an elbow to the head of Fire midfielder Chris Ritter. (Update: Moore's red card suspension was rescinded later.)
  • But the visitors took the lead in 42nd minute when Jackson, unmarked at the back post, headed home a cross from Jermain Defoe from the right-wing corner.
  • The Fire pulled level in the 57th minute from a short corner when Mike Magee slipped the ball to rookie Harry Shipp in the left side of the area and he cut inside before unleashing an unstoppable shot that tipped past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop made three changes to the team that fell 3-2 to Seattle Sounders FC at Toyota Park. Greg Cochrane and Patrick Ianni came into the back four for Gonzalo Segares and the suspended Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, and Mike Magee returned to the side in place of Benji Joya.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare, Patrick Ianni, Greg Cochrane (Juan Luis Anangono 73) - Grant Ward, Chris Ritter (Alex 46), Jeff Larentowicz, Harry Shipp - Quincy Amarikwa, Mike Magee.

TEAM NEWS

  •  The Fire have now gone winless in five games (0-2-3) following their only two league wins of the season. They opened the MLS campaign winless in eight games (0-2-6).
  •  "I've said it a few times; we've tied and maybe deserved to win the game, but we haven't. That's our problem right now: we can't seem to win a game. We haven't lost a ton, but we haven't won many. It's a weird situation, it's frustrating; we can't get over the finish line with a win," said Fire head coach Frank Yallop. "The guys are frustrated in there, we are, as a staff, and me as a head coach. It's not from lack of effort, which is important, it's just lapses of concentration at the wrong time. They had one or two chances and scored one goal; we probably had five to six, seven, eight chances and scored one. It's the story of our season so far, so it's been frustrating."
  •  Rookie Harry Shipp scored his sixth goal of the season, his third over the last two matches. All six of Shipp's goals have come over the last seven league games, since scoring a hat trick May 10 vs. New York. The club and MLS record for goals by a rookie was set by Damani Ralph, with 11 in 2003.
  •  "Harry's starting to blossom into a good player. I think he's starting to play with a lot of confidence, and he knows he's a good player. He's maturing nicely, and I think that it's no surprise that he does well. He's in a lot of the good stuff that we do going forward," said Yallop. "So, very happy with his development. Good goal again; I think he's at six goals already, a great tally for any player, let alone a rookie coming into a brand new, professional league. He's done fantastically well."
  •  Said Shipp: "We had the ball pretty much the entire second half.  Being up a man obviously helps that, but we can't afford to tie at home.  We came in to this game knowing that we needed a win, we kind of billed it as a game to turn our season around, which hopefully gives us momentum heading into the second half of the year.  It didn't happen."
  •  Mike Magee returned to the lineup after a four-match absence in league play, his first appearance since May 18 vs. Sporting KC. Magee collected his third assist of the season.
  •  "Both of them [Magee and Quincy Amarikwa] had pretty good looks; just that final, last, little piece was just missing. But I'm not going to fault them for effort, I think that they worked well," said Yallop. "They tried to do the right things, moved the ball pretty sharply for us, passed it well. Again, it's a little easier against 10 men, but I still think we did the right things to create enough chances, but we just didn't get our final touch."
  •  Chris Ritter made his fourth consecutive start in the center of midfield. He came off at halftime for Alex, who was making a second consecutive substitute appearance after missing six matches May 3-June 4.
  •  "[Alex has] not played a league game for a good nine weeks or so. Once they went to 10 men, I felt we needed something more offensive, and Alex obviously has more of an offensive mind than Chris [Ritter]; Chris had a pretty good bang on his eye, so I think it was a smart move to do that," said Yallop. "If you look at the game as a whole, with Alex in there, we did create enough chances to get something out of it. Whether he played really well himself, he didn't play for a while, so he was going to be a little rusty. But I think that the formation was fine, and it gave us enough chances to get into the game or win the game."
  •  The Fire made a late tactical adjustment when Juan Luis Anangono came on for Greg Cochrane.
  •  "We went to three in the back, but it didn't quite work, so I put Jeff [Larentowicz] back. So we were going to go with Jeff, Baky [Soumare], and Patrick [Ianni], but we decided to just go with four and just push Lovel [Palmer] and [Grant] Ward, playing right back, he's really a right wing, forward," said Yallop. "We possessed the ball enough, did enough to get something out of it, so we were definitely going for it to try and get a win."
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Current Form

Sporting KC
Chicago

Season Stats

Sporting Kansas CityChicago Fire
16Games Played15
7Wins2
5Losses4
4Draws9
22Goals23
14Goals Conceded26
169Shots150
79Shots on Target68
239Fouls Lost220
230Fouls Won190
27Offside30
82Corners79

Goals Scored

01234+TotalAvg
SKC46321221.4
CHI26601231.5
01234+Avg
SKC142011.5
CHI044001.5
01234+Avg
SKC321201.2
CHI222011.6

Goals Conceded

01234+TotalAvg
SKC74500140.9
CHI17331261.7
01234+Avg
SKC422000.8
CHI051201.6
01234+Avg
SKC323001.0
CHI122111.9
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