Sporting Kansas City vs. Toronto FC
Date and Location
Saturday Sept. 1 at 8:30pm ET, at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park.
The game airs live on Sportsnet ONE
Setting the scene
They’re at completely opposite ends of the Eastern Conference standings, but both Toronto and Kansas City have plenty to play for in this one.
TFC (5-15-6) is winless in its last six games overall and is coming off Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League. Two weeks ago at BMO Field, the Reds conceded a late goal in a 1-0 loss to Kansas City.
The memory of that loss still lingers.
“The last Kansas game left a sour taste in our mouth,” midfielder Terry Dunfield told the Canadian Press. “For sure, I think that was a nil-niller all day. Someone leaves the wall and all of a sudden they score on a deflected free kick and you get beat 1-0 at home. That was tough to swallow.”
Saturday’s contest allows the Reds to gain some revenge and continue their progression under coach Paul Mariner following a disastrous start to the season.
“We’re keeping the ball better now, we’re creating chances and I always feel we’ve got a goal in us,” Dunfield said.
Sporting KC (14-7-5) sits three points behind league-leading San Jose and one in front of second-place New York in the East.
A victory would allow them to temporarily draw level with the Earthquakes for top spot in MLS, and put a little distance between itself and New York in the battle for first in the East.
News and notes
French forward Eric Hassli is unavailable for Toronto after suffering a rib injury in the loss to Santos Laguna… Kansas City will be without Teal Bunbury, the club’s second leading scorer, after he recently tore his left ACL… Sporting will also be missing suspended defender Aurelien Collin… Kansas City won 1-0 in Toronto on Aug. 18, and sports a 4-0-2 record in their last six meetings. Sporting has outscored TFC 8-2 and recorded five clean sheets in that run… Toronto has not defeated Kansas City since 2009… Kansas City leads the all-time series with seven wins and four draws in 14 meetings… Sporting beat Toronto 2-0 in Kansas City on June 16, Paul Mariner’s first game as TFC coach… After Saturday’s game, Toronto defender Darren O’Dea will play for Ireland in a World Cup qualifier away to Kazakhstan on Sept. 7. He will miss Ireland’s next contest, a friendly, so that he can play in Toronto’s game against Chicago on Sept. 12.
Player to watch for Toronto
Quincy Amarikwa: With Hassli ruled out, look for Amarikwa to take his place. The newcomer has been a bit of a revelation for TFC, impressing with his speed and his ability to carve out scoring chances.
Player to watch for Kansas City
Kei Kamara: The Sierra Leone forward scored the game-winner against Toronto two weeks ago, leads Sporting in scoring this season with 10 goals, and has found the back of the net in his last two games.
Kei Kamara vs. Darren O’Dea: Kamara spearheads a quick and potent Kansas City attack. O’Dea has adapted well to MLS thus far, but stopping Kamara in his home stadium could be the toughest assignment yet for the Irish defender.
The Toronto perspective
“He’s still sore. Obviously I want (Eric Hassli) on the team, but if you play with bruised ribs every movement you make is difficult.” – coach Paul Mariner told the team’s official website
The Kansas City perspective
“(Teal Bunbury has) 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.” — coach Peter Vermes told the team’s official website.
Toronto hosts the Chicago Fire on Sept. 12.