Sporting KC will be playing under the lights in Chicago tomorrow night when they'll take on the Fire at Toyota Park. Neither team is coming off a very good performance in their last game. Sporting KC fell to San Jose 1-0 in a game where neither side really deserved anything out of the game. Meanwhile, the Fire lost 2-0 on the road to New England. Sporting comes in as the team in more trouble based on current form. Sporting has gotten just 3 points from the previous 12 available to them. Meanwhile, Chicago is just 8 points behind KC and has two games in hand on Sporting. So a loss would see the Fire able to pass KC if they win their 2 games in hand.
Chicago will have both of their designated players that they've signed during the summer window available. Forward Juan Luis Anangono has made 2 appearances since signing in late July, while Edidio Arvealo made his debut last week against New England. The Fire could be relying on them a bit more tomorrow as three of Chicago's main attacking threats are questionable for this game. Mike Magee, Patrick Nyarko, and Chris Rolfe are all questionable for the game. If all three can't go that would certainly be a bit of a boost for Sporting. One player Chicago definitely will be without though is Bakary Soumare. Soumare picked up a red card after the game against the Revolution ended for a confrontation with the Revolution trainer. Also missing will be Frank Klopas on the Chicago side line. He too was dismissed during the game against the Revolution.
While Sporting doesn't have the suspension issues, they do have injury issues of their own. Peter Vermes has already stated that Kei Kamara is set to miss his second game in a row with an ankle injury he picked up on a tackle by Andy Dorman late in KC's win over New England. Graham Zusi is also still questionable for the game and could miss his fourth straight league game after getting a quad strain in the All Star game. The absence of those two was very apparent in KC's loss to San Jose. Without those two a lot of pressure was placed on Soony Saad who has really come on lately for KC. But Saad had no one to play crosses to when he got space out wide.
Number to Remember - 8 - That's the number of points between KC in first place in the East and Chicago who is currently in seventh, outside the playoff race. The Fire also have two games in hand on KC. The Eastern Conference is extremely tight.
Key Match Up - Claudio Bieler vs Chicago central defense - Bieler hasn't scored for Sporting since a tap in against Toronto back on July 13th. That stretch for Bieler has now reached five games without a goal. Sporting needs Bieler to start to find his scoring touch again for KC down the stretch. Bieler will go up against a Chicago defense that will be missing Soumare due to his red card. But the issue is that Sporting needs to find Bieler, he's not been getting much service lately either.
PREDICTION - Kansas City is back on the road and has another long road trip after this as they head down to Honduras. So while KC will have a third straight road trip and a big CCL game, they can't be too complacent in league play. Especially with how close Chicago is to Kansas City with their games in hand. The offense in this game for both sides could suffer with all the injuries. After the performance in San Jose I'm not sure that KC's offense is going to be able to step up and get a win tomorrow.
SKC - 1 (Saad)
CHI - 1 (Rios)