I almost forgot that this signals the return of Ryan Smith who now sutis up for Chivas. How awkward.
CHIVAS USA vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
THE HOME DEPOT CENTER, Carson, Calif.
April 1, 2012 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #35)
6 p.m. PT (KDOC; KSMO)
Coming off their first win of the campaign, Chivas USA will try to put a stop to red-hot Sporting Kansas City when the clubs meet Sunday evening at The Home Depot Center. Chivas went to Real Salt Lake and came away with a rare victory, a 1-0 result last weekend. Sporting are the only club with three wins from three starts on the season, hitting the road for the first time for a 2-1 win at FC Dallas last weekend.
REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic. SAR (bench): Anthony Vasoli; JAR (opposite): Frank Anderson; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 39 games; FC/gm: 21.8; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 4; pens: 5
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CHIVAS USA - OUT: MF Marvin Iraheta (L knee ACL); FW Juan Pablo Angel (concussion symptoms); DOUBTFUL: DF Michael Lahoud (R hamstring strain)
SPORTING KANSAS CITY -- OUT: GK Eric Kronberg (lower back injury)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (14 meetings): Chivas USA 4 wins, 19 goals ... Sporting 6 wins, 22 goals ... Ties 4
AT CARSON (7 meetings): Chivas USA 3 wins, 10 goals ... Sporting 2 wins, 9 goals ... Ties 2
LAST YEAR (MLS):
3/19: CHV 2, KC 3 (Conrad 56; Zemanski 84 - Sapong 2; Bravo 45, 74)
7/9: KC 1, CHV 1 (Bravo 90 - LaBrocca 30)
This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
Sporting Kansas City has won on each of their last two visits to The Home Depot Center to face Chivas USA, including a 3-2 victory last year.
Chivas USA have come away with points on their last three visits to Kansas City. The last KC win at home in the series came in 2008 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Coaches record: Robin Fraser vs. KC: P2 W0 L1 D1 ... Peter Vermes vs. CHV: P5 W2 L2 D1
Chivas USA went onto the road for the first time this season and came away with their first victory of the campaign, a 1-0 victory against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Chivas USA sit in a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference with 3 points from 3 games.
The game's lone goal came in the 72nd minute. Chivas USA fullback Ante Jazic floated a cross from the left, and as Nick Rimando went to claim it, Casey Townsend challenged and the ball slipped from the RSL goalkeeper's grasp. The rookie striker reacted quickly to get a foot to the ball and hit it into the back of the net.
Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser made no changes to the team that fell by a 1-0 scoreline to Vancouver Whitecaps FC at The Home Depot Center.
CHIVAS USA (4-2-3-1): Dan Kennedy - James Riley, Heath Pearce, Rauwshan McKenzie, Ante Jazic - Oswaldo Minda, Peter Vagenas (Ben Zemanski 67) - Ryan Smith (Scott Gordon 74), Nick LaBrocca, Laurent Courtois (Cesar Romero 81) - Casey Townsend.
Chivas USA won for the first time ever at Rio Tinto Stadium, and won for the first time on the road since last Aug. 6, a 3-2 win at New England.
"The team has played well and we haven't gotten the results that we might've deserved or could've deserved," said Chivas head coach Robin Fraser. "And to come in tonight, in what is the hardest place to play in the league, this win comes down to guts and determination."
Rookie Casey Townsend scored Chivas USA's first goal of 2012 after 252 minutes of play, netting the game's only goal for the win.
"That's what I do," Townsend said. "I'm going to go up and battle for the ball and make it difficult for the goalkeeper, and that's what I did. There was a mix-up between him and the center back and it dropped nicely for me, so I just put it away."
Townsend was starting a second consecutive match with Juan Pablo Angel still sidelined with concussion symptoms.
"I'm feeling really good right now," Townsend said. "I'm just happy that I could help the team win and when Juan comes back, he's a great player and he'll help the team more and we'll be an even better team for it."
Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy recorded his first shutout of the season, a year after he posted nine clean sheets in his first year as the first-choice goalkeeper.
"It was another extremely engaged and developed performance," Fraser said. "And when I see him play that way, we are able to grind out results."
Said defender Rauwshan McKenzie, who was facing his former club: "We've got a great group of guys on the backline - a lot of experience besides myself. We're just starting to gel - two 1-0 losses but with the bounce of the ball we could probably be up 1-0. And to come here in a tough place against a great team and walk out of here with three points, it feels good."
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City remained the only team perfect on the 2012 season, getting a late 2-1 victory against FC Dallas on Sunday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting have 9 points from 3 matches to lead the Eastern Conference.
FC Dallas became the first team to score on Sporting KC in the 25th minute, when Ricardo Villar drove home a free kick, curling his shot over Jimmy Nielsen's wall and leaving the KC ėkeeper rooted to his line.
But SKC leveled the score 3 1/2 minutes into first-half stoppage time. From a free kick some 35 yards out from goal on the left, Graham Zusi flighted a service into the box and Aurelien Collin flicked a header into the goal.
In the 50th minute, KC had a glorious opportunity when Chance Myers broke into the area on an overlap and was brought down by Ugo Ihemelu. Kei Kamara stepped to the spot and fired toward the lower left corner, but Hartman guessed right, sprawled and tipped the ball over the endline.
But Sporting still had the final answer two minutes from the end. Myers raced onto a return pass out of midfield down the right flank and sent a rolling cross to the near post where Kamara slid in and poked home for the winner.
Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made no changes to the team that recorded a comprehensive 3-0 victory against the New England Revolution at Livestrong Sporting Park.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-2-3-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza - Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi (Lawrence Olum 91+), Bobby Convey (Jacob Peterson 93+) - C.J. Sapong.
Sporting Kansas City became the 15th team in MLS history to start a season 3-0-0. Only one of those teams has failed to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs: the Kansas City Wizards in 2006.
"This is the proof of where we are right now," said French defender Aurelien Collin. "Confident. Fighting, but not crazy. The cold blood. I'm proud of the team tonight."
Graham Zusi had a pair of assists in the win, setting up both goals. He now leads MLS with four assists this season, with at least one assist in each game this season. It was Zusi's second career two-assist game, his first coming last Sept. 10 vs. Houston.
"When you have guys that can finish the way they do in the box, my part's easy," Zusi said. "They do all the work. I just stick it in the box, and those guys finish it off, so I'm lucky to have them. The assists aren't a credit to me. They're a credit to them."
Zusi is still recovering from a quadriceps strain suffering before the preseason, though he has started all three matches this season.
"He's starting to get out of that," manager Peter Vermes said. "He's actually more and more healthy every week. I hope that as we go into this week, he'll be feeling even better physically, which will mean he'll be able to provide us with the kind of playmaking that he can do."
The penalty missed by Kamara was the first missed by Sporting since the 2007 season, snapping a string of 13 consecutive conversions.
"After the PK, he told me that he told me he was going to block it," said Kamara,. "I didn't hear him before. But it was well-saved. Before, maybe three or four years ago, I would have been killing myself. But it was early in the game. I just had to keep going and keep plugging at it."