Preview: Fire face SKC team coming off back-to-back losses
CHICAGO FIRE vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
May 12, 2012 (WEEK 10, MLS Game #93)
8:30 p.m. ET (CSN-Chi; KSMO)
The Chicago Fire conclude their two-game homestand this week when they play to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire were in action at midweek, gaining a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake. Sporting have lost back-to-back games after opening the season with seven wins in a row, last a 2-0 home to the expansion Montreal Impact last weekend.
REFEREE: Jose Carlos Rivero. SAR (bench): Ian Anderson; JAR (opposite): Chris Strickland; 4th: Terry Vaughn
MLS Career: First game.
- CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Steven Kinney (R posterior tibialis tendinitis); QUESTIONABLE: FW Chris Rolfe (L ankle sprain)
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY - OUT: GK Eric Kronberg (lower back strain); PROBABLE: DF Shawn Singh (R hamstring strain); DF Seth Sinovic (R hand fracture); MF Luke Sassano (R knee sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Sebastian Grazzini ... KC: Aurelien Collin
ALL-TIME (40 meetings): Fire 21 wins (1 shootout), 77 goals ... Sporting 10 wins (0 shootout), 49 goals ... Ties 9
AT CHICAGO (19 meetings): Fire 14 wins (0 shootout), 40 goals ... Sporting 3 wins (0 shootout), 18 goals ... Ties 2
RETURN MATCHES: 6/29: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, 8 p.m. (NBC SN); 9/28: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m. (NBC SN)
LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/26: CHI 3, KC 2 (Chaves 34; Puerari 40; Pappa 59 - Besler 51; Bunbury 72)
6/9: KC 0, CHI 0
- After winning just once in their first 15 games all-time in Chicago (through the 2007 season), KC has won on two of their four visits to the Windy City. The Fire's 3-2 win last year in Bridgeview was their first home win in the series since 2007.
- Kansas City hasn't defeated Chicago at home since 2007. The teams have played to draws in four of their last five meetings in KC; the Fire took a 2-0 win there in 2009. Last year's meeting, a scoreless draw, was the grand opening of Livestrong Sporting Park.
- Coaches record: Frank Klopas vs. KC: P1 W0 L0 D1 ... Peter Vermes vs. CHI: P5 W1 L2 D2
The Chicago Fire began their two-game homestand with a scoreless draw with Real Salt Lake, Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 12 points from 8 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Fire, RSL go scorless in Seattle
- The teams settled into a dour midfield battle for much of the contest. Kyle Reynish, deputizing for the injured Nick Rimando, was forced to make just one save in the RSL goal. Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was called upon to make two saves.
- The closest either team came after just four minutes. A cross from the Fire's Patrick Nyarko found Dominic Oduro wide open in the six-yard box, but the forward's point-blank header hit the crossbar and was cleared.
- Fire head coach Frank Klopas made no changes to the team that snatched a late 2-1 win against Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-1-2): Sean Johnson - Dan Gargan (Jalil Anibaba 51), Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause (Rafael Robayo 72), Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa - Sebastian Grazzini - Patrick Nyarko (Federico Puppo 60), Dominic Oduro.
- After the 2-1 win at Chivas USA when Jalil Anibaba was suspended, Fire head coach Frank Klopas maintained the same back four, with rookie Austin Berry alongside Arne Friedrich in central defense, and it shut out Real Salt Lake.
- "The team won on the road and I didn't want to change anything. I think that positional players are a little different than goalkeepers," said Klopas. "The team played well and I didn't want to change anything. I've always said that you rely on the team, and I didn't want to make any changes coming off of a road victory."
- Said left back Gonzalo Segares: "We're definitely maturing with every game that passes. I think Arne is feeling better physically. You can tell that he's feeling more confident. Austin [Berry] has done great to step in. He's had two pretty strong games over there."
- Anibaba did see action, coming into the match six minutes into the second half, replacing Dan Gargan at right back.
- "I really didn't think Chivas had anything going in the run of play and tonight we got the shutout," Gargan said. "I think it's been a lot better over the last couple of games. I think we're heading in the right direction defensively. It's a good confidence booster for the defense."
- There was another change on the hour mark, when Federico Puppo came in for Patrick Nyarko.
- "Sometimes with Pat, he's hobbling at one point and then sprinting on the next play. He felt tight and he's been feeling some things in his groin in the last couple weeks," said Klopas. "He seemed like he was in pain and not himself, so I made the change. You never know with these things. We'll see tomorrow."
- Puppo has come off the bench for seven out of eight games this season; his 30 minutes vs. Real were his longest shift this season.
- "I still wanted to break them down through combination with our pace. We are not a team that is going to rely too much on service," Klopas said "... In the games that he's come in he has looked very sharp. I thought he was sharp in Chivas, and I wanted to attack the byeline through combinations and be able to play quick through them."
- The shutout was the first of the season for the Fire since their second game, the 1-0 win against Philadelphia on March 24.
- "Communication was huge. I think being more engaged in the game, getting everybody to especially communicate within their small societies, if you will. I thought we did great on that tonight, and we were pleased," said goalkeeper Sean Johnson. "Obviously it's disappointing not getting three points. But at the end of the night, if you're not going to come out with three points, you always want to come out with a point. It gives us a chance to win games if you don't give up goals, and that's what we did tonight."
C.J. Brown Ring of Fire Induction
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City suffered their second consecutive defeat after seven wins in a row, dropping a 2-0 decision to the Montreal Impact on Saturday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting have 21 points from 9 matches to lead the Eastern Conference.
HIGHLIGHTS: SKC suffer shock loss to Montreal
- In the 30th minute, the Impact scored the game's opening goal. Justin Braun laid the ball off for Felipe, who settled in space and bent a left-footer from well outside the area past the fingertips of a diving Jimmy Nielsen and just inside the left post.
- The lead was doubled after Lamar Neagle cut into the penalty area on a breakaway and was hauled down by Aurelien Collin in the 62nd minute. Patrice Bernier calmly stepped to the spot and converted to seal the victory.
- Impact goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made six saves for his second straight clean sheet. Three of those stops kept Sporting from going up early.
- Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made one change to the team that suffered a 1-0 defeat by the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. Michael Harrington came in at left back for Seth Sinovic.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-3-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Michael Harrington - Graham Zusi, Julio Cesar (Paulo Nagamura 79), Roger Espinoza - Kei Kamara, C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 66), Bobby Convey.
- After opening the season with seven consecutive wins, one shy of the all-time MLS record (for regulation-time victories), Sporting have lost two in a row. It's the club first consecutive losses since last May 14-21, when they fell to the LA Galaxy and Seattle.
- "From the beginning of the game, we made some simple mistakes that we haven't done before: losing the ball in dangerous areas, sloppy passes," said goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. "We have to give Montreal some credit, too. They defended well and figured out how to limit our chances. And we weren't good enough to create the chances. We had a lot of the ball, a lot of shots from distance, but overall our worst performance of the season."
- After back-to-back shutouts, SKC have now not scored a goal in 205 minutes. They were last shutout in back-to-back game on June 4-9, 2011.
- "We were around their goal and had chances, but everything was off the mark," said Vermes. "That's not from being off two weeks. Look, we weren't there and we weren't sharp enough." Said Kei Kamara: "The final pass wasn't there tonight. But there were a lot of things that weren't there tonight. They played our game tonight, but they played it better. We pressure from minute one to 90, and they came into our house and did that better."
- Sporting allowed two goals in a game for the first time this season, and have allowed five goals on the campaign - second in MLS after Week 9, behind Seattle Sounders FC (3).
- "I think we got outfought tonight, and I can honestly say that it's the first time that this team, our team, that it's happened to us this year," midfielder Graham Zusi said. "I can pretty much promise you that it won't happen again."
- Seth Sinovic - who missed a start for the first since May 28, 2011 - says he could be able to return for the Chicago match. But Vermes is not ready yet to make that commitment.
- Michael Harrington came in for Sinovic at left back, his first long shift of the season (he came on as a very late substitute vs. Real Salt Lake on April 14.
- "His possession was very good," Vermes said of Harrington. "His entry ball out of the back was really good. ... He made good decisions in where he played the ball. I thought defensively he was locked in, didn't really give anything away. All of that was good stuff."
- Sporting KC's lifetime record is now a perfect - 201 wins, 201 losses, 100 draws in 502 games played. They have scored 707 goals in club history, allowing 713.
On the Spot: Sporting sound off on team hair