Sporting KC welcome Toronto FC to Kansas City for the only time this season tomorrow night when the two teams meet at Sporting Park. It's a chance for Sporting to get a bit of payback, and exorcise a demon from earlier this season. When the two teams met earlier this season in Toronto, the two teams played at the Rodgers Centre. Two poor defensive plays by Kansas City gifted TFC two goals and TFC held on for a 2-1 win, a surprising result at the time. Since that time, Kansas City has established itself as a playoff contender, while Toronto has fallen to a position that has become standard for them, near the bottom of the standings in the Eastern Conference.
There was no big addition for Toronto this week. Rumors last weekend were that Toronto FC was on the verge of announcing the signing Uruguayan international Diego Forlan. That signing hasn't come yet, if it even is coming at all. Toronto will be bringing Robert Earnshaw, who scored both goals in Toronto's 2-1 win earlier this year, which is Toronto's only league win at home in the last year. They will be without four players for the game though due to the Gold Cup. Defenders Ashtone Morgan and Doneil Henry and midfielders Kyle Bekker and Jonathan Osorio are all away representing Canada in the Gold Cup and will not be in Kansas City tomorrow. That leaves Toronto a little depleted, although only Osorio had been a consistent contributor this season.
Sporting comes into the game on a 4 game unbeaten run, and last week picked up 7 of 9 points that were available to them. Can KC finally be turning around their form a little bit? The defense has still struggled at times, conceding 6 over this 4 game unbeaten run. The team hasn't recorded a league shutout since the team's 1-0 win in Houston 2 months ago. In their last win against Chicago, Peter Vermes switched up the recent lineup, moving Graham Zusi back up top and inserting Benny Feilhaber. After subbing out Feilhaber and Zusi back to midfield KC controlled the game more. With the way the team possessed after Soony Saad came into the game for Feilhaber I would think that Saad has earned a place in the starting eleven again with Zusi again dropping into the midfield. One question heading into the weekend is what if any role the recalling of Kevin Ellis would play. The worry is that there was an injury to one of KC's other wingbacks that required the recall, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out for sure.
Myers - Collin - Besler - Sinovic
Rosell - Olum
Kamara - Bieler - Saad
Number to Remember - 1 - Since Toronto came into the league, Sporting have lost just once at home against the original Canadian squad. That loss was opening day 2009. Other than that game, KC has won six and draw one against Toronto.
Key Match Up - Aurelien Collin vs Robert Earnshaw - Collin hasn't been playing his best the last few games. And while Earnshaw hasn't scored in a while, he'll still punish KC if they give him the chance. With the way that KC's defense has played at times, the opportunities could be there for Earnshaw, it'll be up to Collin and Matt Besler to shut down the Welsh striker.
PREDICTION - On the surface this game would appear to be a trap game. Toronto sits currently in 9th place in the Eastern Conference, on 13 points. Three points ahead of bottom of the table DC United, and eight points behind 8th place Chicago. So while on the surface this appears like it could be a trap game, I think Vermes has the team up for this game. I think he'll have the team out to prove that Toronto's win in Toronto earlier this year was a fluke. In that regard I think KC will come out ready to play. And with Zusi in the midfield, KC should be able to cut through Toronto's defense like Ian Ziering through a shark (yes the analogy was forced so I could post this Sharknado GIF).
SKC - 3 (Bieler, Kamara, Zusi)
TFC - 1 (O'Dea)