Sporting KCSKC
Fri, Jun 29
8:00 PM ET

Preview: Sporting look to douse scorching Chicago side

June 29, 2012 (WEEK 17, MLS Game #148)
8 pm ET / 7 pm CT (NBC Sports Network)

Midwestern rivals Sporting Kansas City and the Chicago Fire meet for the second time this season when the clubs face off Friday at Livestrong Sporting Park in front of an NBC Sports Network audience. Sporting are back home after a two-game road swing that ended in a 4-0 loss at Philadelphia, though they advanced to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals at home at midweek. The Fire are coming off back-to-back wins for the first time this season, going a man down and holding out for a 2-1 home win vs. Columbus last weekend.

REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Adam Garner; 4th: Leszek Stalmach
MLS Career: 137 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 48; pens: 50


INJURY REPORT: SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: DF Cyprian Hedrick (L fibula fracture); GK Jon Kempin (R ankle fracture); MF Luke Sassano (L knee sprain); DF Shawn Singh (L quad strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Aurelien Collin (R hamstring strain); MF Paulo Nagamura (R abductor strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Korede Aiyegbusi (R knee sprain); FW Bobby Convey (R calf strain); PROBABLE: FW Kei Kamara (L foot sprain) … CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Steven Kinney (R Achilles tendinitis)


SUSPENDED: CHI: Gonzalo Segares (through June 30)


  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: KC: Chance Myers, Jimmy Nielsen, Julio Cesar … CHI: Dan Gargan, Sebastian Grazzini, Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa, Gonzalo Segares

ALL-TIME (41 meetings): Sporting 10 wins (0 shootout), 50 goals … Fire 22 wins (1 shootout), 79 goals … Ties 9
AT KC (21 meetings): Sporting 7 wins (0 shootout), 31 goals … Fire 7 wins (1 shootout), 36 goals … Ties 7
FUTURE MATCH: 6/29: 9/28: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m. (NBC SN)
•    Second-half goals from Sebastian Grazzini and Dominic Oduro gave the Fire a 2-1 victory in the first meeting this season between the teams, May 12 at Toyota Park.
•    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: Peter Vermes vs. CHI: P6 W1 L3 D2 … Frank Klopas vs. KC: P2 W1 L0 D1

5/12: CHI 2, KC 1 (Grazzini 61; Oduro 81 – Convey 31)
•    Sporting KC opened the lead in the 31st minute when Roger Espinoza pulled back a rolling pass from the right corner and Bobby Convey lashed it home first-time from the heart of the penalty area.
•    But it all went pear-shaped for the visitors over the final half-hour. First, just after the hour, defender Aurélien Collin took down Dominic Oduro in the penalty area, and Grazzini buried the ensuing penalty kick.
•    A minute later, SKC went a man down after Roger Espinoza was sent off by referee Jose Carlos Rivero for an elbow to Grazzini’s face.
•    Sporting were able to hold out until the 81st minute, when Patrick Nyarko picked Kei Kamara's pocket just outside the six-yard box on the end line. Nyarko sent the ball into the path of an onrushing Oduro, and he bundled the ball over the line from six yards out for the winner.
•    CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-1-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich (Dan Gargan 29), Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause (Rafael Robayo 71), Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa - Sebastian Grazzini (Federico Puppo 80) - Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro.
•    SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler (Lawrence Olum 88), Michael Harrington - Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza (sent off 62) - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi, Bobby Convey (Jacob Peterson 78) - C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 74).

Sporting Kansas City saw their four-game unbeaten streak come to crashing halt, falling to a 4-0 defeat by Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at PPL Park. Sporting have 29 points from 13 matches, in third place in the Eastern Conference.


•    Union took the lead with the first opening-minute goal in club history. Raymon Gaddis chased down a long ball and played the ball across the face of goal, where Lionard Pajoy managed to keep the ball in play. Jack McInerney latched onto the loose ball lashing a shot into the back of the net from close range.
•    McInerney showed off his poaching ability again just before the end of the first. A Freddy Adu service in the 43rd minute took a deflection and found defender Carlos Valdés, whose attempt on net was stopped. McInerney, though, was there to gobble up the rebound.

•    Union made the lead 3-0 with about 20 minutes to play. Substitute Antoine Hoppenot made a nifty cutback move in the box and was taken down by SKC defender Aurélien Collin, drawing a penalty kick, which converted by Pajoy.
•    Then, in the 87th minute, Hoppenot grabbed a goal of his own when Michael Farfan sent him in alone on goal, giving the forward time and space to loft a shot over KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
•    Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made five changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field. Seth Sinovic came in at left back for Michael Harrington; Julio Cesar and Graham Zusi started in midfield for Michael Thomas and Peterson Joseph, and Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong started on the flanks for Soony Saad and Jacob Peterson.
•    SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Lawrence Olum, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic - Julio Cesar (Michael Thomas 64), Roger Espinoza (Jacob Peterson 84) - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong (Soony Saad 74) - Teal Bunbury.


•    It was the first loss for Sporting since May 12, four games in league play and six games in all competitions.
•    “We weren’t good. We just weren’t good tonight,” said Sporting manager Peter. “We were sluggish. That was the biggest thing. We just weren’t ready for the game. That’s my fault, and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
•    It was also the first shutout for SKC since a 2-0 home defeat by Montréal on May 5, which the second of back-to-back shutout defeats.
•    The game was the second in a two-game road trip for Sporting that began at midweek with a 1-1 draw in Seattle, followed by a cross-country flight to face Philadelphia.
•    “I’m sure it had something to do with it, but I don’t want it to be the excuse,” he said. “I’m sure it was the culmination of quite a lot of things: going from Kansas City to the Pacific Northwest and then flying again, changing temperature by like 35 degrees. It’s a big thing. But at the end, we just didn’t play well. They were first to the ball on many occasions, and they scored the goals.”
•    The four goals allowed by Sporting were the most since a 4-1 defeat by the LA Galaxy last May 14 in Carson. The last time KC had been defeated by as many as four goals came Aug. 1, 2009 in a 6-0 loss at FC Dallas.
•    “That early goal put us in a hole,” Vermes said. “The one right before halftime hurt us and put us in deeper. It was just a lot to dig out of. We didn’t play well. The other team played better, and they deserved the three points."
•    After ringing in the changes in Seattle, Vermes returned mainly to his first-choice lineup in Philadelphia. Kei Kamara made his first start since May 27, out of the first team for two games because of international duty.
•    “We have a lot of depth on this team and we are good enough to play whether it is a week apart or three days apart. We just got a little bit unlucky tonight and they came out (the Union) and took care of their chances,” said Michael Thomas. “We just need to move on and get a couple results as quick as we can.”
•    On Tuesday, Sporting advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup with a 3-0 win against the USL PRO Dayton Dutch Lions in a quarterfinal at Livestrong Sporting Park. C.J. Sapong scored in the fifth and 59th minutes, while Graham Zusi netted in the 56th, sending Sporting on their way to a date with Philadelphia Union.
•    Here’s the Sporting team: Jimmy Nielsen; Seth Sinovic, Lawrence Olum, Matt Besler (Konrad Warzycha 68), Michael Harrington; Michael Thomas, Peterson Joseph, Graham Zusi (Roger Espinoza 59); C.J. Sapong (Teal Bunbury 74), Soony Saad, Jacob Peterson

The Chicago Fire won for a second consecutive match, surviving playing a man down for an hour for a 2-1 win against the Columbus Crew on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points from 15 games.


•    The Fire took the lead in just the second minute when Marco Pappa’s right-footed blast from 25 yards was too hot for Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and flew into the back of the net.
•    The home side then doubled their lead in the 25th minute when Sebastian Grazzini sprung Dominic Oduro with a through ball, and Oduro lashed it past Gruenebaum from inside the area.
•    The match turned in the 29th minute when Gonzalo Segares’ studs-up challenge caught Crew midfielder Kevan George on the inside of the knee, and he was shown red by referee Armando Villarreal.
•    Six minutes later, Tony Tchani put the Crew on the board, beating Sean Johnson with a low shot after receiving a pass from Chris Birchall and blowing by two Fire defenders. But the 10-man Fire held out the rest of the way.
•    Fire head coach Frank Klopas made no changes to the team that posted a 3-1 win against the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Park.
•    CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Dan Gargan, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares (sent off 29) - Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo - Patrick Nyarko (Arne Friedrich 72), Sebastian Grazzini (Chris Rolfe 59), Marco Pappa - Dominic Oduro (Rafael Robayo 80).

•    The win in Columbus marked the first time this season the Fire have won back-to-back games, and the winning streak comes after their first back-to-back losses of 2012.
•    “We started off well, then things turned for the worse. It’s never easy playing shorthanded, and obviously, we gave up that goal. We wanted to go in at halftime with a clean sheet,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. “I thought our will not to give up and pull away a win was fantastic. I’m proud of the guys. For me, that’s the difference - successful teams have the will to win games.”
•    Marco Pappa’s fourth goal of the season was a stunning blast from all of 25 yards – and came with his right foot, not his preferred side. Of Pappa’s 24 career goals in Major League Soccer, 10 have come from outside the penalty area.
•    “Scoring a goal with my right foot was unbelievable,” Pappa said. “It definitely surprised me, but this is soccer.”

GOAL: Pappa strikes early

•    When Segares was sent off after 29 minutes, it meant an opportunity for Arne Friedrich to make his first appearance since May 12, missing five games with a hamstring injury.
•    “I told Frank if he needed me for 20 or 30 minutes, I’d be there, but for a longer time, I’m pretty tired and still need some training sessions,” Friedrich said. “The muscle is good, which is the most important thing to me.”
•    Said Klopas: “He told me if there was an opportunity to get him in, to get him in. His experience obviously paid off in the end. Coming into the game today, he told me he felt great. Plus, his ability in the air helped because the changes they made showed that they would be playing direct at that point. Our ability to compete in the air is not one of our strengths with the size of our team.”
•    After Friedrich’s injury, the same back four had started all six games, conceding nine goals in that time and not keeping a clean sheet. With Segares suspended, Jalil Anibaba is likely to move to right back with Friedrich and Austin Berry partnering in the middle.
•    “It’s all starting to come together now,” Berry said. “[The break] gave us some time for me and Jalil to kind of work on the cohesiveness in the back. … It’s taken some time, but I think we’re really moving well and jelling right now.” Added Anibaba: “We’ve been working really hard together to keep things tight in the back. I think we complement each other well. I think it’s a good option for our coaching staff. It’s a good opportunity for us to push the envelope.”
•    Dominic Oduro regained the team lead with his fifth goal, his first since May 12. Sebastian Grazzini set it up with his second assist in as many games, his first helpers since May 4.
•    “We’re staying concentrated during games,” forward Patrick Nyarko said. “We could have easily held our heads down, especially going down a man and giving up a goal right after. We could have given up. … I think, now, guys understand that you can’t do it individually, you have to do it as a team.”


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