KANSAS CITY, KS - JULY 23: Kei Kamara #23 of Sporting Kansas City hoists up Matt Besler after scoring his second goal in the first half against Toronto FC on July 23, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)
MLS action returns with Sporting Kansas City facing last place Toronto FC. While many of the starting 11 are out or have knocks, the core in midfield and attack should be enough to garner three points.
There is common chatter in the offseason from FIFA official and Euro-centric football fans that the MLS needs to adopt the FIFA calendar. Of course given the existence of many teams in climates not forgiving during the winter months, this would necessitate a winter break similar to the one's taken in Scandinavia and to some extent Germany. Well, with this "summer break", someone is going to latch onto that idea again, as we just went three weeks without league soccer for two-thirds of the league.
For those of you like me, this hasn't been completely horrible as World Cup Qualifiers, the US Open Cup, and Euro 2012 have been more than enough soccer to placate my needs. Then again, for those of you finding yourselves in the Cauldron every home game and supporter's bars every road game, this may have been agonizing. No worries, because it's back on and Toronto FC comes to town.
This is not the depressing Toronto side of zero points from a month ago. Now, they have three points and are poised to still remain in the cellar for the remainder of the season. Okay, maybe it is still depressing, but they did win the Canadian Championship again and are going back to the CONCACAF Champions League for it. Toronto is an enigma at best with several DPs, a robust fanbase (who oddly enough don't come to Canada matches), and now a coaching change. To know what to expect of them is folly, but I will attempt my best.
For Sporting KC, Depth is the Story
Despite the three week layoff, external factors will see Sporting KC not putting their choice 11 on the field. Kei Kamara remains in Africa for WC14 Qualifier for his native Sierra Leone against Sao Tome e Principe. Also up front and a possible exemption for this match is Bobby Convey, with a nagging calf injury. These are probably not the major concerns as like-for-like substitutions exist in the form of CJ Sapong and Jacob Peterson, the loss of creativity perhaps being offset by the consistency of the replacements. It may be possible that Soony Saad gets a look in place of Peterson or as a second half sub.
The major story as I highlighted last week is the absence of Matt Besler after suffering appendicitis. His replacement is most likely Lawrence Olum, who has shown better form as a defensive midfielder, so hopefully his partnership with Aurelien Collin does not result in any significant failures in this match.
File Under Obvious Advice: Score More Often
If there is a complaint about Sporting's season to date, it may be that they don't get on the board enough. The defense has been stingy allowing the second fewest goals in MLS so far, but the offense has been middle of the road. Lately, Bunbury and Sapong have been on much better form and it will be needed against a Toronto team which seems to be picking up some momentum offensively at least. Danny Koevermans has been finding the back of the net lately, and it wouldn't be wise for Sporting to sleep on another underdog from America's hat.
A Personal Note
I hate Torsten Frings, and during no part of any match involving him will my rage subside until his side has been beaten, hopefully in embarrassing fashion. Anything less of this will be painful for me and for anyone with a rooting interest is either US Soccer or justice in general. If you are not familiar with why, here you go:
It may be worth watching the entire video just to hear an annoucer say Germany scored on the United States against the run of play, which won't be heard again for a while. Or click here to skip to the infamous blown call.
Chance Myers Aurelien Collin Lawrence Olum Seth Sinovic
Graham Zusi Roger Espinoza
CJ Sapong Jacob Peterson
Sporting KC 3 Toronto 1
We haven't been keeping clean sheets lately, and I don't have faith in one here. However, this is the worst team in MLS and Sporting should score goals.