It was the second match of the season when Toronto FC quickly put a damper in Sporting's early season excitement by scoring two early goals and earning a 2-1 at their home opener. Sporting has recovered since then, making their way up to second in the East with several key wins. Toronto, meanwhile, has had some injury problems and are stuck at ninth in the conference.
These two teams will meet again, this time in Kansas City. Can Sporting continue their unbeaten run, or will Toronto play spoiler once again?
About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Benny Feilhaber's rocket shot and Graham Zusi's "shross" propelled Sporting to a 2-1 victory in Chicago last week, which put them into sole possession of second place at the time. Currently they are tied for second with Philadelphia with a game in hand against the Union at time of writing. Sporting will have a near-full strength lineup this week, missing Peterson Joseph and Mechack Jerome to international duty. A win over Toronto and a Montreal loss to New York would propel Sporting to first in the East and would extend Sporting's unbeaten run to five matches.
The Toronto attack has had poor luck regarding injuries. Robert Earnshaw and Danny Koevermans have yet to link up together on the attack and Ryan Nelsen's squad has had trouble winning matches. However this is a team that can play up to it's opponent as seen with their win over Sporting back in March and their recent 3-3 draw with the East leading Montreal Impact. Though their record is shabby, this team can surprise a lot of people if they are given the chance. Definitely a team to be on the look out for.
Players to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Soony Saad
With CJ Sapong's loan out to Orlando City this past week, the green light went on for Soony Saad to become a prominent member on the wing. Based on Feilhaber's recent performance, goal notwithstanding, I would assume that Graham Zusi would move back to the attacking midfield position while allowing Saad and Kamara to work their magic on the wings. Saad will be interesting to watch in this match because it will be the first in which Peter has the faith in him to be the starter on the wing.
Toronto FC- Robert Earnshaw
Every Sporting fan remembers Robert Earnshaw from the last time these two teams met as the man who scored a brace and propelled Toronto to victory. Since then Earnshaw has dropped off a bit as Toronto has failed to play off his strengths well. Earnshaw will possibly be returning to the team following an injury that kept him out of a couple of matches. Earnshaw's biggest strength is capitalizing on mistakes and keeping defenses on their toes, which doesn't bode well for Sporting's recent defensive play.
How they will win
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting needs to bring good playmaking out of the midfield and bring heavy pressure to the Toronto back line. The Reds' main offense involves using the long ball a lot, so an early goal would reduce the risk of Toronto getting a quick chance off a mistake and scoring. Sporting needs to bring heavy pressure early and not allow Toronto to get into the match at all.
Toronto will need to keep the Sporting back line on their toes and force them to make a mistake. The Sporting defense has looked better the past few games but is still showing some weaknesses that teams earlier in the season took advantage. A quick goal by the Reds may force Sporting to panic and not play good soccer for the rest of the match. Keeping things interesting in the attacking half will be crucial for Toronto.
Sporting Kansas City: Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Olum, Rosell, Zusi, Kamara, Bieler, Saad
Toronto FC: Bendik, Eckersley, Caldwell, Agbossoumonde, O'Dea; Lambe, Laba, Russell, Convey; Earnshaw, Brockie.
Sporting Kansas City 2-0 Toronto FC
Toronto is coming in missing several players due to injury and international duty. Sporting's full lineup should not have a problem disposing of the Reds.