Bridgeview, IL (Sports Network) - Sporting Kansas City was once the toast of
Major League Soccer in 2012, but it will be hoping to regain its sublime vein
of form Saturday when it heads to Toyota Park to face the Chicago Fire.
Sporting looked likely to cruise to an Eastern Conference title after a
perfect 7-0-0 start, but two straight losses leave the club just two points
better than second-place Red Bull New York.
Sporting has failed to score in its last two outings, falling 1-0 to the
Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field before getting shocked with a 2-0 loss to
the expansion Montreal Impact at Livestrong Sporting Park last weekend.
"I think we got outfought [Saturday night], 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 after the loss to Montreal. "I can pretty much
promise you that it won't happen again."
Defender Seth Sinovic missed Sporting's last match, failing to start for the
first time since May 28, 2011. He could return to the squad Saturday, but head
coach Peter Vermes may have his reservations about that after watching
Sinovic's replacement, Michael Harrington, perform against Montreal.
"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."
Chicago has enjoyed a consistent season to this point, posting a 3-2-3 record
to put the club fourth in the East.
The Fire are coming off of an impressive last-gasp win at Chivas USA before
playing to a 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake at home.
"The team won on the road and I didn't want to change anything," head coach
Frank Klopas said of his team selection for the draw with Real Salt lake. "I
think that positional players are a little different than goalkeepers. 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
Dominic Oduro had nearly handed Chicago three points against the Claret and
Cobalt when his early header hit the crossbar. The Ghanaian is the lynchpin of
the club's attack, using his speed to unlock defenses.
"I still wanted to break [Salt Lake] down through combination with our pace,"
Klopas said. "We are not a team that is going to rely too much on service."
With Sporting's open 4-3-3 formation, Oduro could have some space to exploit
and Chicago may be able to pile more misery on the visitors.