Sporting Kansas City-Whitecaps FC Preview
Sporting Kansas City is off to the best start by an MLS team in 14 years, dominating a home-heavy portion of its schedule.
Taking to the road for two games in four days may present a new set of challenges.
Sporting KC looks to remain perfect when it visits the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday night.
No team has started better than Kansas City (6-0-0) since Los Angeles won its first nine games in 1998, and coach Peter Vermes' squad has made it look rather easy.
It has outscored opponents 9-1 and set an MLS record by not allowing a shot on goal for 335 consecutive minutes, a stretch that ended in a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Aurelien Collin scored in the 63rd minute for Sporting KC, which has won four of its six games at home. It will face Vancouver before traveling to Portland for another match this Saturday.
"At the end of the day, we found a way to get the goal in the second half. A fantastic three points for the guys," Vermes said. "Now we are going on a week-long road trip. It won't be easy but we have a good situation going right now and we have to keep it going."
Vermes isn't concerned about his team being overwhelmed by the early success.
"The biggest quality about our group of guys right now is that they are very hungry and they realize what is ahead of them," he said. "They know that the next game now is what they have to focus on and it takes a lot of energy."
Vancouver (2-1-2) is well aware of the skill of the Kansas City offense, which is led by C.J. Sapong and Kei Kamara with three goals apiece. The Whitecaps didn't allow a goal in their first four contests but fell 3-1 to San Jose on April 7.
Sebastien Le Toux scored his team-leading second goal in the loss.
Vancouver has had a 10-day layoff to prepare for this match, and it likely will need an improved defensive effort to become the first opponent to get at least a point from Sporting KC.
"Obviously with them being such a highly offensive team, there is some concern," goalkeeper Joe Cannon said. "As we all know in this league, anything can happen on any given night and I'm confident in our defense."
Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie doesn't believe Kansas City will change much - if anything - heading into this contest.
"They're real organized. They have a good structure to their team," Rennie said. "They're on a little run right now, and when you get on those runs your confidence is high and you're expecting to do well."
Sporting will play without defender Julio Cesar, who scored the game-winner in a 2-1 victory over Vancouver in the most recent meeting June 25. Cesar strained his right hamstring against Real Salt Lake, but Vermes said he could return Saturday.
The teams' only meeting in Vancouver was a 3-all draw April 2, 2011. Teal Bunbury scored twice and Kamara netted a goal to put Kansas City ahead 3-0, but Camilo scored twice in stoppage time to earn the draw for the Whitecaps.