Sounders get first point and first goals in 2-2 draw at Sporting Kansas City

Seattle Sounders (0-3-1, 1 pt) registered their first point and goals of the 2018 campaign on Sunday in a 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City (4-1-2, 14 pts) at Children’s Mercy Park. A late first-half equaliser from Will Bruin gave Seattle their first goal of the year and Cristian Roldan would give the visitors their first lead of the MLS season. Graham Zusi would bring the home side back level just five minutes later though and neither side would manage another breakthrough.

It was somewhat of a surprise to see Alex Roldan in the starting lineup just in front of Jordan McCrary but the rookie midfielder looked very good against the Western Conference leaders. The younger Roldan looked confident on the ball and helped to setup the attack that lead to Seattle’s second goal. Hopefully for Seattle this is not just a flash in the pan but a sign of things to come for the Seattle University alum.

Sounders fans were also treated to the return of Osvaldo Alonso from injury, coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute. With Alonso on the field for Handwalla Bwana, coach Brian Schmetzer pushed Cristian Roldan into an attacking position and brought Nicolas Lodeiro out wide which allowed Roldan to play more aggressively and ultimately lead to scoring the second goal. With Alonso on the field Seattle’s midfield looked more disciplined and structured defensively, something that was badly missing in their home loss to Montreal.

It was not such a great night for Nouhou who seemed to be a step slow all night, directly leading to both Sporting goals. The first goal came from a penalty kick conceded by a poor challenge from Nouhou while the second was due to him not getting back to stop Zusi.

The play starts with Nouhou making a long attacking run into space before hitting an ill-advised high shot from about 25 yards out. As Sporting restarted play, Nouhou doesn’t get back into position in time and leaves Zusi open on the wing. Even once Zusi receives the pass and is dribbling into the box, Nouhou doesn’t get back to mark his man and allows Zusi to walk in one-on-one against Frei and tie the match.

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Sporting controlled possession for the majority of the match and forced Stefan Frei into making six saves compared to Tim Melia’s one but made defensive mistakes to let Seattle on the board against the run of play. While Seattle does well to keep the play alive after Bruin’s first chance clanked off the crossbar, Jimmy Medranda gets caught watching the ball on the second chance and allows Bruin to score on a tap in.

Although Seattle was unable to hold on to the lead, the second goal showed the Sounders’ potential in attack. Alex Roldan out plays Zusi on a long clearance to get to the ball and then makes a perfectly weighted outside-of-the-foot pass around a defender to Bruin. With a defender on him, Bruin has the wherewithal to pull the ball back and find Christian Roldan at the top of the box for a shot. Roldan is able to hit the ball with power while also placing it in the far corner, past the stretching arm of Melia.

Seattle is going to want to see more possessions like this next weekend when they host Minnesota United FC (2-4-0, 6 pts) on Sunday at 1 PM as they look to record their first win of the season.

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MLS Fantasy Focus: Make the most of the DGW ahead of Round 10

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The headlines from Round 9 have all been about Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain’s mid-game row. Their exchange of words over a penalty that would have secured Kamara his hat trick – but was eventually taken by Higuain – is a story that has travelled around the world. It marred an incredible eight-goal game, but in this week’s Fantasy Focus, we promise to focus on the football being played, not the spats off the ball!

Round 9 Review 

The Good:

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The MAPFRE Stadium, home to Columbus Crew, undoubtedly provided us with the game of the weekend, where an incredible eight goals were scored in the 4-4 draw between the Crew and Montreal Impact. It had been a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, but two goals from both Kei Kamara ($11.1) and Federico Higuaín ($10.5) put Columbus 4-1 up with just over 30 minutes to play. Remarkably, the Impact came back from the dead to salvage a point thanks to Ignacio Piatti ($10.6), Didier Drogba ($11.8) and a last minute goal from Dominic Oduro ($7.6). We have once again entered the familiar territory of Piatti gaining the most points of any player this week – with an astounding 18! While Montreal may top the Eastern Conference, Colorado Rapids are the shock leaders of the Supporters’ Shield standings, following a 1-0 home victory against an equally impressive Real Salt Lake. Jermaine Jones ($8.2) netted the goal that was the difference between the two sides to earn his side three crucial points and further cement his place as one of the league’s top players even after his unceremonious exit from New England. Robbie Keane ($11.7) may have been sidelined with injuries for most of this campaign, but the Irishman netted a brace in the Galaxy’s fifth win of the campaign, picking up 13 points in his 59 minutes on the field. Furthermore, it couldn’t possibly be a good weekend without Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.3) getting a mention. The forward has now scored in four straight matches as Seattle won their fourth-straight home game against San Jose on Saturday.

The Bad:

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The only red card of the weekend was collected by Orlando’s Cristian Higuita ($6.7), who was sent off late on in his side’s 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. OCSC are now on a run of five games without a win and with star turns Kaka ($10.8) and Cyle Larin ($9.2) in their side – it is fair to expect more from the men in purple. Meanwhile, Dallas failed to score and lost for the third consecutive outing. It has to be worrying the Texans with forward Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) needing to regain the form that got him three goals in the opening four MLS games. Portland Timbers’ winless away run continued after defeat at Vancouver, while Sporting Kansas City also suffered a defeat away to Houston Dynamo. SKC are now winless in six after winning four of their opening five. Designated Players Benny Feilhaber ($10.9) and Graham Zusi ($10.1) will be expected to produce their finest form in the coming weeks, starting with this week’s DGW.

Round 10 Preview

Double Gameweek Must-Haves:

Jermaine Jones ($8.2):

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The Rapids are in tremendous form and it was sparked by Jermaine Jones’ entrance to the team. Fresh from his contract dispute with the Revs and his six-match ban for making repeated physical contact with referee Mark Geiger, the fire is very much within Jones’ play. Thrust into a more attacking role, he’s playing as well as he ever has – even at the age of 34.

Andrew Wenger ($7.2):

Houston have finally returned to some sort of form with a win over SKC and Wenger was instrumental in achieving the victory. Fixtures against San Jose and Real Salt Lake aren’t easy – but they’re certainly not the most difficult cards to be dealt at this point in the season. I would be shocked if Wenger didn’t pick up 10 points across the two games this week. If you don’t fancy Wenger, teammate Alex ($6.1) is bound to pick up a solid number of points at a cheap price.

Fanendo Adi ($10.3):

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The pinpoint in the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning attack, Adi is in fine form and with Diego Valeri ($10.5) pulling the strings behind him, he looks set to keep firing in goal after goal. He may be whisked away for international duty with Nigeria in Round 12, but he will be back in a flash – unlike other forward options like Giles Barnes ($8.5) and Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will exiting the league for the Copa America Centenario.

Maynor Figueroa ($6.7):

This is a risky one. Dallas may’ve lost three on the trot, but the former Wigan defender has performed solidly throughout and is still garnering plenty of bonus points. If Dallas were to keep a clean sheet in either of their two home games this week against the Sounders or the Timbers, it would be a shame to miss out on almost certain double figures. It’s also hard to ignore that Dallas are the only side to play both their games at home this week and Figueroa represents a solid pick.

Which players will you transfer in for Round 10’s DGW?

Exclusive: Graham Zusi hunting trophies with SKC in ‘wide open’ Western Conference

By Louis East and Zack Walford

Sporting Kansas City open their 21st season in MLS at Seattle Sounders on Sunday night in what is a tough opener. But SKC veteran Graham Zusi believes a solid preseason camp has put the team in a strong position to challenge for trophies in 2016.

The 29-year-old playmaker is entering his eighth Major League Soccer campaign with Kansas City and will be looking to continue to shine as one of the team’s brightest stars in 2016.

He is one of the club’s two Designated Players, along with long-time friend and fellow 2009 draft pick, Matt Besler. But Zusi doesn’t think that having a DP tag necessarily brings more pressure, and isn’t interested in personal achievements. He is purely focused on helping his team and his work rate on the field is testament to that.

“I think I put myself under enough pressure,” he tells MLSGB. “I don’t think the motivation comes from anywhere else. I think there’s plenty of motivation, internally and throughout the team.

“All my goals are team-orientated. For me, it’s all about winning trophies together as a team and I’m looking to do more of that this year.”

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Sporting Kansas City endured a tough campaign on their return to the Western Conference last term, but did manage to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth-straight season, before being eliminated on penalties in the knockout round to eventual winners Portland Timbers.

SKC, who lifted the MLS Cup in 2013, need to try and climb above several sides if they are to challenge at the very top of the Western Conference in 2016, following their sixth-placed finish last year.

The West is viewed by most as the more competitive of the two conferences, but Zusi doesn’t think there is one team who stands above the rest and believes it’s anyone’s to win this term.

“I think the West is a very challenging conference. As you saw [last year], it was very tight throughout the whole year and even up until the last week, there’s a whole lot of shifting throughout. There’s really not a standout team or two. It could really be anyone in any given year.”

Audio – Graham Zusi explains how the Western Conference is wide open for anyone to win this year:

SKC fans will certainly hope it is wide open to increase their own chances of success. They looked on track to challenge for the Supporters’ Shield at the midpoint of last season, before an inconsistent end to the campaign saw that challenge fade.

Zusi scored two goals and picked up five assists in 25 regular season appearances last term, taking his total number of goals contributed to 68 in 173 regular season matches.

SKC’s preseason campaign was a good one as the team went unbeaten through six games in preparation for the new season, and the midfielder thinks the team improved steadily over the past few weeks.

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“I thought it went well,” he said. “I thought as a team we got better at every opportunity we could. Each game was an improvement from the one before and training sessions were very good as well. Everyone was focused and determined in each session.

All focus will now be on getting a result at Seattle on Sunday night. Sporting KC didn’t lose to the Sounders in three meetings last term, drawing 0-0 in the only game at CenturyLink Field, and so they will be confident of avoiding defeat in their season opener.

How important is Graham Zusi for Sporting Kansas City? What will SKC achieve this season?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Sporting Kansas City

As the 2015 season is now just four days away, the excitement is building. We’ve had a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday in the build up and today we take a look at what Sporting Kansas City will be looking to achieve this season…

Sporting Kansas City endured a long and tough season last time out as they limped into the MLS Playoffs only to be knocked out by the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference playoff game. They will take part in the Western Conference in 2015 as the arrivals of New York City FC and Orlando City SC has seen Sporting KC moved back to the West for the first time since 2004, a season in which they were runners-up for the MLS Cup title but won their first-ever US Open Cup. Manager Peter Vermes has seen many changes to his squad this season and will hope a change of opposition in the West can spark a comeback challenge for the championship in 2015.

Dom Dwyer was a real spark as he netted 22 goals in 31 regular season starts and if he can build on his form then Sporting KC will be a real force. The resigning of Roger Espinoza has strengthened the squad but the loss of centre-back Aurelien Collin could affect their defensive stability.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference – P34 – W14 – D7 – L13

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What needs to change this year?

Consistency was a problem in 2014. Sporting Kansas City had a great run of form through the middle of the season but ended the year by losing seven of their last ten. Fitness was a key factor as Matt Besler and Graham Zusi looked exhausted after the USMNT’s World Cup campaign and could not help the side to achieve. Sporting Park needs to become a fortress once more if the club are to do well in a fiercely competitive Western Conference this year as they had the seventh-worst home record last season. Picking up more points on the road than at home is a concern and something that must change from the word go.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: Bernardo Anor – Midfielder, Jalil Anibaba – Defender, Krisztian Nemeth – Forward, Luis Marin – Goalkeeper, Roger Espinoza – Midfielder, Servando Carrasco – Midfielder.

Outs: Antonio Dovale – Midfielder, Lawrence Olum – Midfielder, Soony Saad – Forward, Aurelien Collin – Defender, CJ Sapong – Forward, Sal Zizzo – Midfield/Forward, Claudio Bieler – Forward, Jorge Claros – Midfielder, Eric Kronberg – Goalkeeper.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer – Forward

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Dom Dwyer was incredible last year as he scored 24 goals across all competitions and led the line perfectly for Sporting Kansas City all season. He lacked support at times but the additions of Nemeth and Espinoza, as well as the return of a fully fit Zusi should only make Dwyer more dangerous. The English forward seems to improve with each game and is undoubtedly a favourite for the Golden Boot come the end of the campaign.

One to watch: Krisztian Nemeth – Forward

Krisztian Nemeth has joined the club this offseason and can play on the wing as well as the main striker. He has already netted five goals and picked up an assist this preseason and looks like he could be a real threat. His versatility will make him a real asset for Peter Vermes this season and the Hungarian is certainly someone to keep an eye on.

Predicted finish: Western Conference – 6th

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Sporting Kansas City may take time to adjust to life back in the Western Conference, especially with the quality of teams around them this year. It looks set to be another tough campaign and a lot will depend on how well the team deal with such long trips. No other clubs are closer than a seven-hour drive and that could be a factor. Still, you can expect Sporting KC to make the playoffs for the fifth straight year and from there they could be dangerous. If Zusi and Besler can get back to their best then Sporting KC could be challenging right at the top of the Western but it may take time to adjust to a new conference with so many new players.

What are you expecting from Sporting Kansas City in 2015?

Is Dom Dwyer the man to inspire Sporting Kansas City back to their best in 2015?

Dom Dwyer enjoyed a really bright season in MLS last campaign, with Bradley Wright-Phillips the only player to find the net on more occasions than the Sporting Kansas City star.

The 24-year-old Englishman contributed to a huge 47% of Kansas City’s goals and helped push them into the playoffs.

Don’t miss: Sporting Kansas City reward Dom Dwyer with a new contract

He will be looking to take his side one step further than they did in this years playoffs in 2015. They were unable to defend their 2013 MLS Cup title and didn’t quite have enough to beat the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference wildcard game.

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Sporting Kansas City will face a new challenge in the Western Conference next season and will look to challenge at the very top despite fierce competition from the likes of Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy.

SKC have good foundations in place to be a club who can offer a challenge to the ‘big boys’ once more in the league. Fitness may be the main reason they fell away this year as stars such as Matt Besler and Graham Zusi looked exhausted from the USMNT’s World Cup campaign.

That said, the club could still do with bringing in a couple of major players that can instantly improve the side.

We saw the difference one signing can make to a side with Jermaine Jones’s arrival at the New England Revolution in August. If Sporting KC can bring in a midfield powerhouse we could see them rise back to prominence.

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With the foundations they have to build upon they may just need a couple of signings to add to the strength and depth of the squad.

Dwyer, who has already been rewarded with a new contract, is committed to the club and will be looking to create history with his side.

His tally of 22 is a personal accolade he will be looking to build on that number next season and there is no reason why he can’t do so.

His ability to notch goals against even the best defences shows he has the capabilities to drive Sporting Kansas City back to the top of Major League Soccer’s hierarchy.  The backing he has at the club, both from the board and the fans will only be adding to his confidence – something he isn’t lacking whatsoever.

Can Dom Dwyer be the man to inspire Sporting Kansas City back to their best?

Breaking down the USMNT 25-man squad for upcoming friendlies

Jurgen Klinsmann named his 25-man squad for the upcoming USMNT friendlies against Colombia and Republic of Ireland today and there were a mixture of familiar faces as well as new ones in the roster.

The two friendlies may not be competitive games, but Klinsmann will want to end an excellent 2014 on a high and the first game against a no.3 ranked Colombia side on Friday will be a real test that many players will relish playing in.

“We want to finish 2014 on a high note and continue to try to meet the top teams eye to eye,” said Klinsmann.

“In these last two games we want our veterans to really become mentors both on and off the field, and we want to see our youngsters take advantage of the opportunity to make their case and grow from the experience. These performances will set the tone for 2015.”

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Bill Hamid (DC United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

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No real surprises here. Tim Howard is taking a year off international duty so Brad Guzan will expect to continue as first-choice. Though the fact that these are friendly games should see rotation between the sticks. Sean Johnson will be delighted with his call-up but he is unlikely to feature. Bill Hamid is certainly looking like the future no.1 ‘keeper and he deserves more and more responsibility from now on.

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

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Mostly usual names in here but some surprise inclusions nonetheless. Firstly, Matt Besler looked extremely tired at the end of Sporting Kansas City’s season and needs a long rest during the offseason. A long trip to Europe is not what he needs.

John Brooks is also a surprise inclusion as he has fallen down the pecking order at Hertha Berlin while Geoff Cameron and Jermaine Jones have been called up in defence to presumably play centre-back but neither are naturals in the position. Jones is a far better midfielder and the experiment at centre-back against Honduras didn’t exactly flourish. Facing a pacey Colombian attack will be a major test.

DeAndre Yedlin is one of three players called up who are still likely to be involved in the MLS Playoffs and so his game time may be limited. And any action he does see could be in midfield once again.

It’s a shame not to see Bolton Wanderer’s Tim Ream called up as he has been in good form this season.

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Hamburg), Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)

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Michael Bradley misses out as he recovers from a foot injury so some new faces are involved. Lee Nguyen has been rewarded for an incredible year though New England’s participation in the playoffs could limit his game time. Alfredo Morales in involved once again but it would have been nice to see a couple of MLS players called up considering the games are non-competitive.

The likes of Luis Gil, Will Trapp and Perry Kitchen could have all been given the nod by Klinsmann but he has overlooked all three on this occasion.

Kyle Beckerman will hope to forget about Real Salt Lake’s humiliating MLS playoff loss to LA Galaxy by ending what has been a great year for him on a high, while Julian Green could impress again.

Graham Zusi has been overlooked but he looked just as tired as teammate Besler and will likely be pleased that he can recover.

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Jordan Morris (Stanford), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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The major surprises in the roster are in the attack. Clint Dempsey misses out playing at his former ground Craven Cottage as some new faces are set to see some action. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, Miguel Ibarra and Rubio Rubin have all made the squad and will be desperate to impress.

Miguel Ibarra plays in NASL and Bobby Wood is struggling to make any kind of impact for an 1860 Munich side that is near the bottom of the 2.Bundesliga.

While Jordan Morris has yet to leave College and is still a student at Stanford. All three will hope to see some minutes but Rubio Rubin is the most exciting to watch.

The 18-year-old has been called up for the second successive time and will expect to win his first cap this time around. He has four assists in nine games for Utrecht in the Eredivisie and is a versatile attacker with a bright future ahead of him.

Jozy Altidore continues to earn call-ups despite failing to get in the Sunderland team while Aaron Johansson and Terrance Boyd are not deemed fit enough having recently recovered from injuries.

Eddie Johnson has been overlooked once again and his USMNT career looks to be over as long as Klinsmann is in charge.

What do you make of the latest USMNT squad?

2014 MLS Season Review: Sporting Kansas City

Eastern Conference Final Position: 5th

Eastern Conference Playoffs: Knockout Round

Best Moment

Coming back from 1-0 down at halftime to beat Toronto away from home on July 26. It showed that the reigning champs still knew how to get the job done, in what was a good run of form.

Worst Moment

It seems obvious but their exit from the MLS playoffs. The defeat in the Eastern Conference knockout round to New York Red Bulls was a major disappointment, especially as they led until the 77th minute. Poor defensive communication saw them concede a last minute Bradley Wright-Phillips winner which sealed their fate. Devastating for the MLS Cup holders.

Player of the Year

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Dom Dwyer has been the standout performer in a tough year for SKC. Losing Graham Zusi and Matt Besler for the World Cup hindered their season, but with Dwyer’s finishing ability, SKC always looked threatening going forward, and he ended the season with an impressive 23 goal tally.

Biggest Win

Sporting Kansas City 4-0 Montreal Impact (April 26 2014)

Chivas USA 0-4 Sporting Kansas City (September 13 2014)

Biggest Defeat

Sporting Kansas City 0-3 D.C United (August 24 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season… 

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They had the highest possession percentage in MLS this year and converting that dominance on the field into more wins will be key. They should aim to be more clinical going forward, and look to get more names on the score-sheet as they became a little over reliant on Dwyer. SKC should come back stronger for the 2015 season and will look to be fighting at the top of the Western Conference after being moved from the Eastern.

Playoff Preview and Prediction: New York Red Bulls vs Sporting Kansas City

Thursday night will be the last game of the season for one of these MLS heavyweights. Either New York Red Bulls or Sporting Kansas City will be eliminated from the playoffs as they go head-to-head at Red Bull Arena in the Eastern Conference knockout round.

This is one that shouldn’t be missed and it could well turn out to be the tale of two strikers; Bradley Wright-Phillips and Dom Dwyer. Two English strikers who are extremely clinical, and are the top two goalscorers in the league.

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New York Red Bulls home form: Played 17 – Won 10 – Drawn 4 – Lost 3

Whoever outscores the other will likely win the game for their team; as Wright-Phillips did on Sunday night in the final regular season game at Sporting Park.

Sporting Kansas City will be looking for their first win against the Red Bulls in MLS since April 2013. They looked poor defensively in the 2-0 defeat to New York on Sunday, and the fifth-seeded team has it all to do.

Sporting Kansas City away form: Played 17 – Won 6 – Drawn 6 – Lost 5

However, with World Cup stars such as Graham Zusi and Matt Besler in your team you are always in with a shout. Without mentioning they are last year’s MLS Cup winners, so they know how to progress in the playoffs.

Both teams have players that boast strong reputations, but only one side can advance and this is set up to thrill. Enjoy!

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Key Player: Thierry Henry – Potentially his last game of professional football. He has always loved the big occasions and is a legend of the game and a huge asset to this Red Bulls team.

Key Stat: Kansas City has only won two of their last ten in MLS. Not great form to bring into the playoffs.

New York’s last five: L/W/W/L/W

Kansas City’s last five: L/D/W/L/L

Prediction: New York Red Bulls 2 – 1 Sporting Kansas City

Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire visits Sporting Park on Friday night, in search of their first away win since July. Whereas the home side, Sporting Kansas City, will be looking to all but secure a playoff berth.

Chicago’s away form is a clear indication of how bad a season they have had, in which they have an unbelievable eighteen draws to their name.

Sporting Kansas City will be thankful they have retained the services of Matt Besler and Graham Zusi who have been excused from USMNT duty to play in tonight’s game.

Their influence will be vital as SKC’s form has been dreadful of late, having only won one of their last seven in MLS.

With both teams coming into this with a poor run of form, it should make for a good spectacle.

It would be appear that Chicago have nothing to play for but pride, and they will hope to spoil the night for an SKC side that is still in with a shout for the Eastern Conference title.

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Chicago, without a win in six will want to put a downer on the SKC title charge and Kansas City will be looking to start a run of form that could give them a platform for the playoffs, if they make it as expected.

Key Player: Dom Dwyer, the SKC striker has been prolific this season, having netted 20 times.

Key Stat: Dwyer’s goals alone have secured ten points for SKC; he has been their main man. If the Fire keeps him quiet they could leave with at least a point tonight.

Prediction: Sporting Kansas City 2 – 0 Chicago Fire

USMNT gather momentum going into the World Cup

USA has now won all three of their warm up games. They were, however, less than impressive in the opening two of their ‘send-off’ series.

But they changed their performance last night as Jurgen Klinsmann ditched the diamond and flooded midfield.

The structure was simply genius as it allowed Alejandro Bedoya and Clint Dempsey freedom on counter attacks.

There are things we need to look out for at the World Cup, assuming that Klinsmann won’t change this current team too much.

1. Zonal Marking – ditch it.

Set pieces are the worst way to concede a goal, as you have plenty of time to set yourself up and zonal marking is the greatest liability.

The system allows players to get complacent because you rely on each other, whereas, in a man-marking system everyone has a job.

We hope he doesn’t use it in Brazil against the likes of Germany who will punish the team from corners otherwise.

2. Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones are a great insurance plan.

When you risk everything on a fast-paced counter attack you have to take precautions defensively.

Jones and Beckerman provide that cover so that the fullbacks, Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley can bomb on.

Klinsmann has found an answer to his midfield issue, and the USMNT have a realistic chance of success at the tournament.

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3. Michael Bradley is ready to shine.

Based on what we have seen in the three warm up games, Michael Bradley will have a great World Cup.

He is one of the first names on the USMNT team sheet and he provides a range of passes that can trouble any defence.

Ghana, Germany and Portugal better have done their homework because Bradley could hurt them.

4. Bedoya or Zusi?

We like Bedoya and he had another good game last night. But we have cause to believe Graham Zusi would be a better choice in terms of structure.

He is more than capable of joining in on the counter attack and he can also pick out a pass to perfection.

But unlike Bedoya, Zusi gives you a bit more defensively and we think he should start instead. It is likely that Bedoya will play though because we cannot see Klinsmann changing his team too much now.

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5. Jozy Altidore can score goals.

It’s an extreme long shot but who’s to say he can’t win the Golden Boot? Although this is extremly unlikely, he did give us cause for optimism with a well-taken brace and lead’s a side with goals in it.

Granted the first goal was a tap-in and had he missed it, he should have retired, but his second cannot be questioned.

The confidence he showed while in possession was great to see and we think the USA have a great platform to attack with him as their outlet alongside Dempsey.

The USMNT will now play Belgium in a behind closed doors match on Thursday but we expect the team will stay much the same regardless of what happens there.