Red Bulls-Sporting Kansas City Preview
A few days after seeing one disappointing performance, the Sporting Park crowd would surely be more upset with another one Saturday night.
The site of this week's loss by the MLS All-Stars also could be where the Eastern Conference leader is decided, with Kansas City looking to extend the New York Red Bulls' road woes and continue its recent domination of this series.
Sporting Park hosted Wednesday's showcase as the All-Stars played Italian club AS Roma, which scored four minutes into the game to somewhat deflate the home crowd and would go on to win 3-1.
"I think we could have done better," said defender Aurelien Collin, one of three Kansas City players who started for the MLS team. "When it's an exhibition game, maybe some don't take it seriously. Me? I took it seriously."
Teammate Graham Zusi also started but left in the 24th minute with quad tightness, and is listed as doubtful for Saturday.
"It's just day-to-day," coach Peter Vermes told MLS' official website. "We don't know right now. But right now, I'm planning on that he's not going to be playing. That could change, but that's what I'm planning on."
Sporting KC (10-6-6) enters with a one-point lead over the Red Bulls (10-7-5) and Montreal for first place in the East.
Kansas City had won three in a row and was unbeaten in six straight before losing 1-0 at Montreal last Saturday. It was the first time the club was shut out since May 8, but Collin didn't play due to a suspension and fellow All-Star Matt Besler was with the U.S. national team.
Sporting KC remained one point behind Real Salt Lake for the league's best record.
New York is coming off a win over Salt Lake, 4-3 last Saturday despite blowing an early two-goal lead.
However, that game was at home, where the Red Bulls have won three straight while scoring 10 goals. They have been shut out in three consecutive road games and are 0-3-2 in the last five, including a U.S. Open Cup defeat at New England.
New York also has struggled on offense in this series. Kansas City is 3-0-2 in the past five meetings, and the only time the Red Bulls scored in that span came on a Kei Kamara own goal. They've been shut out at home in each of the last three matchups, including a 1-0 defeat April 17 in the only one this season.
Colin scored off Zusi's corner kick but was more happy with helping hold Thierry Henry in check. New York's All-Star forward has not scored in six career matches against Sporting KC.
"It's always a big challenge when I play against him," Collin said after the last meeting.
Henry has scored only once in his past seven matches overall but did assist on Tim Cahill's goal last Saturday.
Cahill, though, injured his knee off a hard tackle by RSL's Yordany Alvarez and is expected to miss three to four weeks.
"It's going to be a very big loss for us," coach Mike Petke told the team's official website.
Cahill's six goals tie him with Fabian Espindola, who scored two last weekend, for second on the team behind Henry's seven.