Sporting KCSKC

MLS Match Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire

SPORTING PARK, Kansas City, Kan.
March 16, 2013 (WEEK 3, MLS Game #19)
2 p.m. CT (NBC Sports Network)

Two Midwestern rivals meet in MLS Rivalry Week as Sporting Kansas City make their 2013 home debut, taking on the Chicago Fire. Sporting are coming off their first loss of the season, a 2-1 defeat by Toronto FC last weekend. The Fire are still looking for their first win and their first goal, dropping a 1-0 decision to the New England Revolution in their home debut last weekend.


REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Philippe Briere; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Matthew Foerster
MLS Career: 59 games; FC/gm: 27.4; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 8; pens: 7

DISABLED LIST: KC - Teal Bunbury; Jacob Peterson

ALL-TIME (43 meetings): Sporting 11 wins (0 shootout), 52 goals ... Fire 23 wins (1 shootout), 80 goals ... Ties 9
AT KC (23 meetings): Sporting 8 wins (0 shootout), 33 goals ... Fire 8 wins (1 shootout), 37 goals ... Ties 7
RETURN MATCHES: 7/7: Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 2 p.m. CT (ESPN); Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:30 p.m. CT (NBCSN)

5/12: CHI 2, KC 1 (Grazzini 61; Oduro 81 – Convey 31)
6/29: KC 0, CHI 1 (Pappa 58)
9/28: KC 2, CHI 0 (Zusi 11, 96+)

  • Kansas City had gone a couple of seasons and four matches in all since defeating Chicago before their 2-0 victory in the final meeting last year, Sept. 28 at Sporting Park.
  • Kansas City has won twice on their last five trips to Bridgeview, dating back to 2008 – after winning at the Fire just once in the opening decade of the series between the clubs.
  • KC has twice defeated Chicago in a final – MLS Cup 2000 and the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
  • Coaches record: Peter Vermes v CHI: P8 W2 L4 D2 ... Frank Klopas vs. KC: P4 W2 L1 D1

Sporting Kansas City went down to defeat for the first time this season, dropping a 2-1 decision to Toronto FC at Rogers Centre.


  • Toronto FC took the lead after just three minutes. Matt Besler's pass to fellow defender Aurélien Collin was intercepted by Robert Earnshaw, and he clinically finished past helpless SKC 'keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
  • The home side doubled their lead shortly thereafter. SKC midfielder Paulo Nagamura tripped up newly acquired Toronto midfielder John Bostock in the box, and Earnshaw stepped up and used a cool stutter-step to catch Nielsen wrong-footed from the penalty spot in the 21st minute.
  • Sporting pulled a goal back in the 77th minute when halftime substitute C.J. Sapong flicked a long free kick from goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen on to Claudio Bieler, who split the TFC defense and blasted the ball past Toronto 'keeper Joe Bendik for his second goal in as many games.
  • Sporting manager Peter Vermes made no changes to the team that came back from an early deficit for a 3-1 win against Philadelphia Union at PPL Park
  • SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-1-2-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Oriol Rosell - Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber (Soony Saad 82) - Graham Zusi, Claudio Bieler, Bobby Convey (C.J. Sapong 46).


  • Sporting lost for the first time in league play since last July 28, ending their undefeated streak at 13 games, one shy of the club record set in 2011.
  • “They pushed the game and they made the most of their opportunities. We made a big mistake early on to get them into the game that gave them some confidence. Getting the second goal early on put us behind the 8-ball pretty early,” said SKC manager Peter Vermes. “Two goals is a big deficit to come back from. I thought they closed the half out well, they slowed the game down and didn’t give us much to get into the rhythm or anything.”
  • Designated Player Claudio Bieler scored for the second time in as many matches, getting a late goal to pull Sporting back within a goal.
  • For a second consecutive match, C.J. Sapong came off the bench to provide an attacking spark. He came on for Bobby Convey to start the second half after replacing Convey at the 63-minute mark in the season opener.
  • “We definitely needed to change something, I don’t know if whether it was a change for a different mentality or it was the difference in the way everyone was playing, but it wasn’t just one guy,” Vermes said. “C.J. (Sapong) was a good spark for us at half, kind of changed a lot of the game for us so it was good to see.”
  • Sporting were able to uncork 16 attempts at goal in Toronto, but were not able to match the three-goal effort from the season opener in Philadelphia.
  • “The second half I thought our guys did a very good job of changing the pace of the game and pushing the tempo a little bit.” Vermes said. “We created quite a few opportunities, maybe a little unlucky here or there, but at the end of the day they did well in the first half we did well in the second half, they got two and we got one.”
  • SKC maintained their first-choice back four of Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler and Aurelien Collin – losing for just the second time in 30 matches with that group in the first XI.
  • “It was not a question about tactical, about the quality of what we did, it was our attitude on the field that was wrong. We were not ready to battle; we were not ready to fight,” said goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen. “That surprised me a lot because that is what we talked about just before we went on the field. We should be ready right from the first whistle but it took us 45 minutes to get ready.”

The Chicago Fire lost for the second time in as many matches to open the new season, falling 1-0 to the New England Revolution in their home opener Saturday night at Toyota Park.


  • The lone goal came shortly after the hour mark. After a misclearance was back toward the Fire penalty area, Juan Toja controlled the loose ball at the top of the box and laid the ball back to Kelyn Rowe. He looped the ball to the far post over the pulled-up Chicago backline, where Jerry Bengtson was lurking and calmly able to finish his header.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that lost 4-0 to the LA Galaxy to open the season at The Home Depot Center. Sherjill MacDonald started up top in place of Maicon Santos.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Steven Kinney, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere - Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe (Alex 65), Dilly Duka (Yazid Atouba Emane 58) - Sherjill MacDonald (Maicon Santos 46).


  • For the first time since 2000, and just the second time in club history, the Fire have opened the season with back-to-back losses.
  • The Fire are the only team still to score a goal in league play this season that has played two games. The only other team still without a league goal – Seattle Sounders FC – has played only their season opener (a 1-0 loss to Montréal).
  • “We’ve got to put our chances away. I thought in the first half we had some good looks,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. “We have got to be better in the final third. It’s difficult when you create the opportunities but don’t put them away. The game sometimes is not fair because out of nothing, we gave up a goal. I think in the run of play we got in some good spots, we just couldn’t finish.”
  • After starting the season opener on the substitutes’ bench and coming on for the final quarter of the match, Sherjill MacDonald was given the start in the New England. But he played only the first half before coming off in place of Maicon Santos.
  • “We took out MacDonald because we needed him more,” coach Frank Klopas said. “We needed him to hold the ball better. At times when we tried to find him, he was late to movement. He had a couple of chances he didn't put away. Going against the wind, Maicon [Santos] was bigger and stronger.”
  • Said MacDonald: “For me, this is my job. As a striker, I know things like this happen. I'm just there to support this team no matter what. ... I still think I have a good connection with Rolfe. Some games, it works better than other games. But I'm sure that, once the season gets going, we're going to be OK.”
  • There was then another change up top when Chris Rolfe had to come off. “Chris came off because he had an injury. His quad muscle or hamstring in the back had a muscle issue. He was grabbing his knee and we had to take him out. ... We were going to make a different change, but then we had to take him out because he couldn’t continue,” said Klopas.
  • In the season opener, Steven Kinney played centrally with Jalil Anibaba at right back. It was Kinney’s first appearance in central defense. For the New England match, the two exchanged places, with Kinney back at his usual fullback spot.
  • “I knew Jerry Bengtson was more athletic and with his speed, I wanted to get Jalil in the back. I switched it up at the end of the game because I knew Steven was getting tired and we had to push the game,” Klopas said. “I knew Jalil still had his legs and could push it on the right. I thought Steven had a good game. I think at the end it was a fitness thing with him.”
  • After missing the opening two matches of the season, veteran center back Arne Friedrich traveled to Germany to visit with a specialist concerning his hamstring injury.
  • “You're going to face situations throughout the season like this, and you're going to have to cope with this,” Klopas said. “Arne's experience and his quality, any team would miss him, but we're just going to have to accept this and just move on and when he's ready, he'll be ready to help us.” Said Austin Berry: “We’re getting more comfortable. I think sliding in Jalil into the center back spot, there’s a little bit more familiarity between me and him. We played a lot of games last season so it’s getting better but we would like to have Arne back.”
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Sporting KC

Season Stats

Sporting Kansas CityChicago Fire FC
2Games Played2
3Goals Conceded5
5Shots on Target5
28Fouls committed27
36Fouls suffered31
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