Sporting Kansas City-Fire Preview

Sporting Kansas City is staying optimistic despite its recent

struggles but likely won’t have one of its top scorers available

once again.

Kansas City will try to overcome Kei Kamara’s absence and keep

pace in a competitive Eastern Conference by topping the Chicago

Fire on Friday night.

Losers of three of four, Sporting KC (11-8-6) is tied with New

York atop the East, and Philadelphia and Montreal are one point

behind those two teams. Kansas City missed an opportunity to

reclaim sole possession of the conference lead Sunday with a 1-0

loss at San Jose.

“The glass is always half full,” defender Seth Sinovic told the

league’s website Tuesday. “I think we’re a confident team. Despite

the result this weekend, we’re still at the top of the table with

nine games left, so we’re in a good spot and we feel like we can

take it.”

While his team is confident, coach Peter Vermes doesn’t share

the same outlook on Kamara’s health.

The forward, second on the team with seven goals, is dealing

with an ankle injury from a hard foul in a 3-0 win over New England

on Aug. 10.

“I think it’s more than likely that he won’t be ready,” Vermes

said.

Sporting Kansas City, though, might get midfielder Graham Zusi

back from a sore right quad, which has kept him out since the

All-Star game on July 31.

“He’s looking closer right now than Kei is, for sure,” Vermes

said.

If Zusi returns, he’ll try to help Kansas City extend its

three-game unbeaten streak against Chicago (9-10-4). Sporting KC

recorded a 2-1 win at Toyota Park on July 7, and Zusi scored his

team’s second goal in the eighth minute.

Chicago enters after having a 3-0-1 streak snapped with a 2-0

loss at New England last Saturday. A win by fifth-place Houston on

the same day put the Fire five points behind in the race for the

playoffs.

“It was a setback, and now we have to refocus and get ready for

Friday. It’s a quick turnaround and another very difficult team,”

defender Gonzalo Segares said. “We’re definitely searching for

points. … It’s very important to get a win on Friday.”

The Fire might get Chris Rolfe (hamstring) and Patrick Nyarko

(concussion) back from injuries. Rolfe and Nyarko are tied for

second on the team with four goals.

Defender Bakary Soumare, however, will be suspended for this

game after confronting a New England trainer following last week’s

loss. Coach Frank Klopas and assistant Leo Percovich are also

suspended.

Mike Matkovich will lead the club during designated player

Arevalo Rios’ home debut. The midfielder played all 90 minutes in

last week’s game.