Toronto FC-Sporting Kansas City Preview
Toronto FC players say the first week under their new coach has
brought some much-needed changes.
Now, the club is hoping to improve on its woeful record.
In Paul Mariner’s debut, last-place Toronto will try to build
off the end to a nine-game MLS losing streak Saturday night when it
returns from a lengthy break at Sporting Kansas City.
While the team was on hiatus from league play, Aron Winter
stepped down as coach and technical director on June 7. He was
quickly replaced by the team’s director of player development,
The 59-year-old British native was a former member of New
England’s staff and led English Championship division club Plymouth
Argyle from December 2009-May 2010.
Mariner’s first task is rallying Toronto (1-9-0) from its
miserable start. The club’s 0-9-0 start set a new low for the
league before Toronto edged Philadelphia 1-0 on May 26 in Winter’s
During Mariner’s first full week in charge on the pitch, there
have been hints at a change in formation but the most significant
one might be a new mentality.
“Everyone’s happy. Everyone’s focused. There’s a new energy with
us and a new mindset during this week. It’s coming along well,”
midfielder Eric Avila said.
A win over Sporting KC (8-3-1) might help that attitude even
more, but that club is also intent on building on the end to a
Kansas City was 0-3-1 before a 2-1 home win over San Jose on May
27. That winless skid had followed a 7-0-0 start, the best in the
league since Los Angeles won 12 straight to begin its 1996
“As we head into this week’s game against Toronto, we’re looking
to pick up where we left off,” assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin
Kei Kamara scored the deciding goal in last month’s victory but
his status is unknown because of international duty for Sierra
Leone. Kamara has a team-best five goals, and he scored two in the
first 33 minutes of a 4-2 home win over Toronto on July 23.
Jacob Peterson could fill in for Kamara in this game after doing
so in a 2-0 win in U.S. Open Cup play over Colorado on June 5, and
Sporting KC will also need to find a replacement for central
defender Matt Besler, who is out following an emergency
appendectomy June 8.
“I’m going to work hard at whatever he asks me to do,” Peterson
told the league’s website. “It’s all of our jobs to make it a tough
decision for Pete, all those guys who are on the bench and who are
fighting to get into the 18. If we do that, it’s healthy
Sporting KC 2-0-2 in its last four games against Toronto and
earned both those wins at home, where it is 4-1-1 all-time in this