Toronto FC-Sporting Kansas City Preview

It’s hard to imagine where Sporting Kansas City would be without

Teal Bunbury’s superb play through the first six months of the

season.

The club could have a hard time maintaining its Eastern

Conference lead down the stretch after losing its star forward.

In its first game since learning of Bunbury’s season-ending knee

injury, Sporting KC will look for others to step up Saturday night

when it hosts league-worst Toronto FC.

With 47 points, Sporting KC (14-7-5) sits three behind

league-leading San Jose and one in front of second-place New York

in the East. Kansas City stayed ahead of the Red Bulls after the

clubs played to a 1-all draw Sunday, but that result came at a

steep cost for coach Peter Vermes’ team.

Bunbury tore his left ACL and damaged his LCL while leaping to

make a pass to Kei Kamara for Sporting KC’s only goal Sunday.

Bunbury fell to the ground holding his knee but went on to play

several more minutes before coming out. His injury was initially

thought to be a sprain.

“All the support has really been keeping my spirits up. It’s

nothing I can get down about,” Bunbury told Sporting KC’s official

website. “It’s not going to help my knee heal faster. So I’m

already over that. I’m just looking forward to next season and

watching these guys win the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup this

season.”

Sporting KC, 3-0-1 over its last four league games, may have a

hard time replacing Bunbury. The former fourth overall draft pick

has five goals in MLS play – tied for second on the team behind

Kamara’s 10 – and his 50 shots rank third on the club.

“It’s a tough break,” Vermes said. “He put a lot of time and

energy into getting into the form that he was in. But that’s part

of the business that we’re in. You work so hard to get to a certain

point, and then something happens to where you’re out for a good

period of time. He’s had a huge impact on the team that we’ve grown

into, and I have a lot of confidence in our medical staff that he’s

going to come back better and stronger than he was before.”

Sporting KC went 6-1-0 over its first seven MLS home games but

has since been outscored 5-4 during a 1-2-3 stretch on its own

field. What appears to be a favorable matchup versus Toronto FC

(5-15-6), though, could give the home fans plenty to cheer for.

Kansas City prevailed 1-0 at Toronto on Aug. 18, improving to

4-0-2 over the last six in the series. Sporting KC has outscored

Toronto 8-2 while recording five clean sheets during that run.

Toronto FC, 0-4-2 in its last six games overall, is coming off

Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions

League.

In its most recent league match, Toronto FC played to a 1-all

draw at Houston last Saturday. Terry Dunfield headed in the

game-tying goal in the 85th minute on a terrific pass from Darren

O’Dea.

“I thought we played very well,” O’Dea told Toronto FC’s

official website. “I think we could have won in the end, but we

definitely improved our performance and now hopefully the results

will come and if we keep playing hard we will win more than we

lose.”