Sporting Kansas City-Toronto FC Preview
Sporting Kansas City sits alone atop the Eastern Conference and
has seemed to hit its stride.
It has a solid chance to increase its lead facing the league’s
Visiting Kansas City looks to extend its unbeaten streak against
Toronto FC to six and earn a third consecutive MLS victory Saturday
Sporting KC (13-7-4) followed its U.S. Open Cup title victory
over Seattle on Aug. 8 by beating D.C. United 2-1 last Saturday,
getting goals from Teal Bunbury and Graham Zusi.
Bunbury also scored in the team’s previous league game, a 1-0
victory over New England on Aug. 4. Zusi, who played for the U.S.
national team in Wednesday’s historic victory in a road friendly
versus Mexico, added an assist versus D.C.
Kansas City is two points ahead of New York and three ahead of
Houston in the East race with 10 games remaining.
“It’s going to be important for us to continue on this same
vein,” coach Peter Vermes said. “We’ll get after the next one but
we’re in a good position now to keep the pressure on everyone
Sporting KC went 0-3-1 to close July, including one friendly
loss, but has gone 3-0-1 this month with a friendly draw.
“Even though we’ve lost here or there, we came back and got back
into the form a little bit,” Vermes said. “But at the end, I think
there’s a strong belief in the locker room with the guys that they
know they can play and that they can be very competitive with any
team in this league.”
Kansas City beat Toronto 2-0 on June 16 to improve to 3-0-2 in
the last five meetings, and there’s little reason to believe that
unbeaten streak won’t continue.
Toronto (5-13-5) has the fewest points in MLS and is coming off
a 2-all draw with Portland last Saturday after allowing the tying
goal in the 82nd minute.
Coach Paul Mariner criticized his players for giving up the
game’s first goal off a corner kick, as defending set pieces has
been a weakness for his club all season.
“Whose fault is it? It’s the players’ fault,” Mariner said.
“Every team in the world sets up slightly differently. The No. 1
thing that you’ve got to do, you’ve got to have that desire inside
you that the ball is not going to be won by anyone on the
opposition. It can’t happen. It’s something we’re having difficulty
Mariner relented and said he was pleased with Toronto’s play in
the second half, when Eric Hassli and Luis Silva each netted goals.
He especially was happy for Hassli, who was playing his first home
match since being acquired from Vancouver on July 20.
“We did great in the second half,” Hassli said. “We lost two
points again tonight, but we have to stay positive. We need to just
move on and focus on winning (the next) game.”
Toronto, which has allowed two goals in each of its last three
games (0-2-1), is 3-1-3 in its last seven at home.