Chicago Fire vs. Sporting KC

Bravo, Kansas City roll into Toyota Park

Off success to begin the season, the next stop for the Sporting Kansas City road show is Bridgeview and the Chicago Fire. Sporting kicked off their 10-game road trip to start the campaign with a 3-2 victory last weekend at Chivas USA. The Fire opened their season on the road as well, coming away from FC Dallas with a 1-1 draw.

REFEREE: Jasen Anno. SAR (bench): Corey Rockwell; JAR (opposite): Frank Anderson; 4th: Fotis Bazakos

MLS Career: 19 games; FC/gm: 21.5; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 11; pens: 5

INJURY REPORT: CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: MF Mike Banner (L Achilles tendinitis); FW Calen Carr(concussion); DF Steven Kinney (R Achilles repair); DOUBTFUL: MF Marko Maric (L hamstring strain); MFBratislav Ristic (L hip flexor strain) … SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: MF Ryan Smith (L knee inflamation); FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Michael Harrington (L groin strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: KC: Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone); Shavar Thomas (Jamaica)

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (38 meetings): Fire 20 wins (1 shootout), 74 goals … Sporting 10 wins (0 shootout), 47 goals … Ties 8

AT CHICAGO (20 meetings): Fire 13 wins (0 shootout), 38 goals … Sporting 3 wins (0 shootout), 16 goals … Ties 2

RETURN MATCH: 6/9: Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, 9 p.m. CT

LAST YEAR (MLS):

5/15: KC 2, CHI 2 (Kamara 50, 89 – Martinez 14; McBride 48)

10/12: CHI 0, KC 2 (Arnaud 45; Bunbury 80)

  • After going the first 10 seasons with just one win in Chicago, Kansas City has won on two of their last three trips to face the Fire (2008 and 2010), with a draw in a third visit.
  • The Fire have won just one of the previous seven meetings between the clubs, over the past three seasons. But four of those encounters have been draws.
  • The clubs will meet in the first game ever at Livestrong Sporting Park on June 9. Kansas City never defeated Chicago at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, with three draws and a loss in four all-time meetings.
  • Coaches record: Carlos de los Cobos v SJ: P2 W0 L1 D1… Peter Vermes vs. CHI: P3 W1 L1 D1

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire came away with a result in their first match of 2011, playing to a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas on Saturday evening at Pizza Hut Park.

LAST MATCH

  • The visitors took the lead after 17 minutes. A partially cleared freekick fell to Cory Gibbs, but his shot was parried by FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. But Diego Cháves was there to sweep home the rebound.

  • Getty Images

    FC Dallas pulled even barely a minute later.Zach Loyd carved out some space on the left and put in a rolling cross that Milton Rodríguez skipped home with a nifty backheel flick.

  • FCD finished the game a man down after center back Brek Shea was sent off after pulling down Fire striker Gaston Puerari when he looked to be clean through.
  • Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos had six players making their Fire debuts in his starting XI. Jalil Anibaba made his professional debut in a rebuilt back three.

TEAM NEWS

  • Fire boss de los Cobos started the season opener with a three-man back line, but it changed to a back four midway through the first half as Gonzalo Segares shifted to a left back position with Cory Gibbs partnering Josip Mikulic in central defense.
  • "Sometimes you tie and don't feel very good [about the result], and sometimes you tie and feel like you win," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said. "At the end of the game, I am not very happy about the result, but I am happy about the effort of the players."
  • "I need think about what is better for us. Very similar to (how) Dallas played with Rodriguez on top, Avila to the side and Ferreira behind them. Bravo is more a foward who won't drop too much. Kamara is very fast. Sapong is a strong guy. But it's important that players know how to play two different ways. If we play with four we still need to play with order, that's the most important thing," said de los Cobos toChicago Now.
  • On the right side of the midfield, Bratislav Ristic started but came off before halftime in place of Patrick Nyarko. Nyarko battled ankle injuries in 2010 but still led the Fire with 10 assists.
  • “I had an ankle problem early last season and played through it,’’ Nyarko said to the Sun-Times. “But it got worse at the end of last season. … I had bone spurs and a minor ligament tear. I can deal with it. It’s not 100 percent yet, but it’s getting close.’’
  • Fire midfielder Logan Pause will become the 61st player in MLS history to reach the 200-game mark in league play with his next appearance. His start in the 1-1 against Dallas was his 199th MLS game.

  • Jamie Sabau/Getty

    "We were up a man for about 30 minutes, but we need to keep things in perspective,” Pause said. “Coming in here and getting a point is fantastic. It's the first game of the year, with a new group, and the guys showed a level of commitment that I am proud of. So I think we are on the right track."

  • Diego Cháves scored in his Fire debut, partnered up top with fellow Uruguayan Gaston Puerari. “They’re young and more mobile,’’ Nyarko said to the Sun-Times. “Everyone’s been trying to learn each other’s movements. Pretty much half our team from last year is gone. We’ve got a new team that’s real young and hungry.”
  • On Tuesday, the Fire acquired the rights to Colombian defender Yamith Cuesta in a trade with Chivas USA, in exchange for a 2012 supplemental draft selection. Then Thursday, the club announced the signing of New York-born striker Gabriel Ferrari, who was last with FC Wohlen in Switzerland.

SPORTING KANSAS CITY

Sporting Kansas City kicked off a new chapter in the club’s history in style, recording a 3-2 victory against Chivas USA on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center.

LAST MATCH

  • Rookie C.J. Sapong put Sporting into the lead after just two minutes, winning a cleared corner floated back into the box and pouncing on the loose ball. Omar Bravo then doubled the lead in first-half stoppage time, coolly chipping a curling pass over goalkeeper Zach Thornton from the top of the box.

  • Getty Images

    Chivas USA pulled a goal back in the 55th minute when Jimmy Conrad potted from close range from a corner kick scramble. But Bravo hit for his second in the 74th minute, racing onto a return 1-2 header from Kei Kamara and coolly slotting home.

  • Ben Zemanski finished the scoreline in the 84th minute when another corner was cleared and then played back into the goalmouth where the second-year midfielder turned it home.
  • SKC boss Peter Vermes gave a start to veteran Julio Cesar in central defense, with Luke Sassanoslotting in at right back. Rookie C.J. Sapong started up top, flanked by designated player Omar Bravo in his MLS debut.

TEAM NEWS

  • Kansas City won to open the season for the 10th time, and the club’s 10-4-2 record to start the season is the best in Major League Soccer. K.C. has lost the season-opening game just once in the last 10 seasons.
  • “It’s a great way to start the season,” said Sporting coach Peter Vermes to the Kansas City Star. “There’s a lot of real positives in the game itself, and there’s some things we can work on, but I feel comfortable with way we played.”
  • SKC rookie C.J. Sapong scored in the second minute Saturday, the fastest goal ever scored by a rookie making the start in his MLS debut. Three other players scored two minutes into their rookie debuts (Leandre Griffit, Michael Kraus and Josh Wolff), but all did so as second-half substitutes.

  • Getty Images

    "The good thing is … our first round draft pick in C.J. – his debut, he scores and I think he had a monster game. He was dangerous, had the ball a lot, he was just very good for us,” said Vermes.

  • Omar Bravo scored two goals in his MLS debut, one of 14 players to
    hit the net for multiple goals in their league debut (and one of three on First Kick).
  • “I think the first 25 minutes he struggled… because he was so anxious, being the DP, playing against Chivas USA; I think there were so many things that he wanted to prove and then he calmed down and once he calmed down, that’s when he started playing his game,” Vermes said to the Kansas City Star. “And that’s why he’s here, because of the way he played."
  • Vermes started Craig Rocastle in the holding midfield role, but made a change before the first quarter of the match was played, bringing on Stéphane Auvray.