About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Winners of their past two league matches, Sporting Kansas City needs a win in Toronto to keep pace with the streaking New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference. However a poor performance Tuesday night against Real Esteli may have blown some of the confidence earned from wins against the Rapids and Crew in the past few weeks. Hopefully for the away side, the Champions League match will shake off some of the rust from the bye week and they'll be in prime shape for this league match.
Toronto is as interesting as usual, welcoming new general manager Tim Bezbatchenko yesterday. League-wise, they've done not as interestingly, losing two out of their last three matches. The Reds haven't won a match since August 4th and they didn't put up too much of a fight in their latest 2-0 loss to the Red Bulls. They will also be missing Jonathan Osorio after being suspended for an incident against Toronto. Overall this does not look like a strong squad welcoming Sporting this afternoon but remember, they have beaten Sporting already this season.
Players to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Claudio Bieler
I am of the opinion that Kei Kamara on the wing hampered some chances for Claudio Bieler in the middle. As long as the goals were coming, I didn't care where they came from. Now that Kei Kamara is gone, however, I bet we'll see more of a focus on getting the ball to Bieler. I don't expect him to score every game, but I can definitely see him getting the same type of goals he was getting in March and April to close out the season.
Toronto FC- Danny Koevermans
Toronto has had the worst luck this year with their forwards. Both Danny Koevermans and Robert Earnshaw have battled injuries and the Reds' attack has faltered because of it. Earnshaw will be missing once again due to a hamstring injury, but Koevermans could possibly start in this match. If so, the Toronto front line will get a much needed boost. While he may not be enough to completely change the game, he will certainly make the Sporting back line sweat a bit.
How they will Win
Sporting Kansas City
The last time Sporting Kansas City faced off with Toronto FC, the offense exploded for three goals in front of the largest Sporting Park crowd in its three year history. They did it by controlling possession (A whopping 67.3%) and forcing the Toronto defense to make mistakes. These squads are more or less the same as they were back in July, so Sporting needs to employ the same formula. By controlling possession and keeping the pressure up, Sporting should be able to get a goal or two in.
For some odd reason, Toronto plays reasonably well in the rain. That seems to be one of the forces that helps them score. With the forecast calling for rain, this could be good for Toronto for a couple of reasons. First of all, the rain will slow down Sporting's high-pressure offense and will force them to scale back a bit to keep possession. If Toronto can use this rain to help reign in Sporting's offense while getting one of their own into the net, they stand a good chance of getting three points.
Sporting KC- Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Rosell, Nagamura, Feilhaber, Saad, Bieler, Zusi
Toronto FC- Bendik, Eckersley,Caldwell, Henry, Morgan, Hall, Rey, Convey, Wiedeman, Koevermans, Braun.