MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
03/21/2014 4:19 PM
03/21/2014 4:30 PM
San Jose (0-0-1) at Kansas City (0-1-1), 8:30 p.m.
Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes have both had plenty of excitement in the final minutes of games so far this season.
In San Jose's lone league match this year, the Earthquakes scored two goals in the final 15 minutes of a 3-3 draw against Real Salt Lake, with Victor Bernardez scoring the equalizer in stoppage time.
Sporting, meanwhile, has been on the wrong end of late goals in both of its league matches this term.
Chad Barrett scored in the dying moments of Sporting's 1-0 loss at Seattle to open the season, while a last-minute goal from Dallas defender Matt Hedges forced Kansas City to settle for a 1-1 draw in its last outing.
"We've got to have the team mentality to close the games out and be focused for 95 minutes, or whatever it's going to take to get the result we need," said Sporting goalkeeper Eric Kronberg. "We have the mentality. Maybe we lost it for a second, but we can't keep doing that. We've got to lock it down the last five minutes."
As the defending MLS Cup champions, Sporting's title defense has not started well, and things got worse in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday night as the club was hammered, 5-1, by Mexican side Cruz Azul in the second leg of its quarterfinal matchup.
Sporting won the first leg, 1-0, but was run out of the competition on Wednesday by the Mexican leaders, continuing a poor run of results.
San Jose manager Mark Watson was forced to use a makeshift backline against RSL due to injuries suffered by Jordan Stewart, Clarence Goodson, Brandon Barklage and Andreas Gorlitz.
The Earthquakes were also in action in the CONCACAF Champions League in midweek, and nearly made their way into the semifinals before falling to Toluca on penalty kicks.
Despite the loss, Watson was pleased with how well his team stayed together in Wednesday's match and he is hopeful that they can maintain a similar mentality for Saturday's contest.
"Anytime you get to penalties, it's anyone's game at that point," Watson said. "We played very well with a lineup that had not played together at all. We stayed disciplined and I am very proud of our performance tonight. The whole team had a great mentality and stayed focused for 120 minutes."
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