Livestrong Park 8:30 PM E.D.T
The last time these two teams played, it was, if not the worst, definitely the dullest game this year at BMO Field, two of the worst teams in the league played out an uninspired contest, enlivened only by a half time cameo from a squirrel. I'm fairly confident in predicting that we should see a better effort from both teams on Saturday
Sporting Kansas City have improved and raced up the table since then by the simple trick of finally playing some games at home. That game back in June was one of their current 11 game MLS unbeaten streak, though it's a very MLS-esque stretch as it only includes 4 wins, and they recently signed up a DP of their own, 27 year old Brazilian Jeferson, who they'll hope can help them move on up the East Side and into the playoffs. They also still have the world's douchebaggiest striking partnership in Kei Kamara and Turncoat Teal Bunbury.
Toronto FC of course have changed almost half the starting lineup since then, including bringing in everyone's new favourite player Torsten Frings. Despite some signs of promise and potential in Wednesday's game against FC Dallas, all that unfamiliarity meant it was a bit of a mess, and only poor Dallas finishing stopped it from being a full on shitshow. A full game under their belts and some extra practice time should help in that regard, as should the return of Richard Eckersley in defence, and hopefully at least one of either Terry Dunfield or Julian de Guzman in midfield for what is to all intents and purposes another practice game before Wednesday's important CCL qualifier against Real Esteli.
Eckersley's return from suspension means an upgrade at Right Back, and sets up the question of who gets to play at Centre Back alongside Andy Iro, who struggled against Dallas but should still be considered our first choice Centre Back at the moment. Eddy Viator was another of the many TFC debutants on Wednesday, and let's just say he looked like he was playing with these guys for the first time, as it wasn't a comfortable display from him. He should be better at Centre Back though, and I'd give him a start there to give him a chance to show what he can do. The other option is to go with Ty Harden, and though he does bring some much needed stability, that's really the best argument that can be made for him because, though you know what you'll get from him, you also know that it'll be mediocre at best, so why not give Viator the chance to improve on that standard. At Left Back, I guess we keep going with Danleigh Borman, for want of a better alternative.
In midfield, ideally we'd be seeing Julian de Guzman or Terry Dunfield coming back from their respective injuries, but without having seen any injury updates on either of them, I doubt they'll be ready, so more then likely we'll see the same starting midfield we saw against Dallas, with Nathan Sturgis and Mikael Yourassowsky trying their hardest to not hinder Torsten Frings too much. With Jeferson being an attacking midfielder and SKC also having Omar Bravo who likes to drop deep rather than be an out and out striker, Frings is going to have to have another impressive game if TFC are going to have any chance.
Up front Danny Koevermans looked less that 100% fit, but hopefully playing the full 90 minutes was a positive thing for him. Given that it's really hot in Kansas City right now, I'd like to think he might be substituted in the second half so as to preserve his fitness for the Real Esteli game. He'll start though, and I also think we'll see Ryan Johnson given another start at Left Wing. Joao Plata started at Right Wing on Wednesday, but had a poor game, regularly just running right at defenders and losing the ball. Nick Soolsma had an impressive game after coming on as a sub, so I'd expect him to be given the start, with Plata ready to come on in the second half on either wing.
As for a prediction, I think we'll look a bit more compact and on the same page than we did against Dallas, but with Koevermans not quite fully fit, we'll still struggle up front and have our 4th consecutive goalless game, with this one ending 2-0 to Kansas City.
This preview is also serving as the game thread, so join me here later on, I'll have lineups and chat and all that from about 8 onwards.
Come On You Reds