MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
08/15/2014 6:33 PM
08/15/2014 6:38 PM
Toronto FC (9-7-5) at Kansas City (11-6-6), 8:30 p.m.
Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC will renew their budding rivalry when the two sides meet at Sporting Park on Saturday.
The two clubs have met twice already this season with Sporting getting the better of the Canadian side by taking a total of four points.
The two clubs played to a 2-2 draw at Sporting Park on May 23 before Kansas City claimed a controversial 2-1 win at BMO Field on July 26.
The major talking point came in the opening period when Toronto, already one goal up, released Gilberto in behind the Sporting defense only to see Aurelien Collin trip up the Brazilian striker from behind. No foul was called and Collin was not sent off, and Sporting eventually grabbed two second-half goals en route to the victory.
Sporting, entering the weekend in first place with 39 points, has not won a league game since that victory over TFC, so there is plenty of incentive for Peter Vermes' men.
"We've got a lot to play for, and you can't go out in games and think that it's just going to be a walkthrough, a walk in the park," Vermes said following his side's loss at Vancouver Whitecaps FC. "The mentality was not right. Obviously, the mentality's been very good as of late, but it's a thing that you have to bring consistently. When you don't, in this league, you get your butt handed to you."
The recent slip-ups from Sporting has afforded Toronto a chance to close the gap, an opportunity it has taken as the Reds have claimed back-to-back wins.
After suffering a 3-0 defeat to D.C. United, Toronto earned consecutive road victories, most recently notching a late goal to collect three points from a 3-2 win at the Columbus Crew.
"We just want to try and evolve as a team," said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen. "Every day, every week, we are trying to improve the team. We know we aren't at the end product yet. We are still looking to always improve the team.
"If you saw us in the start, you have seen a really nice improvement. We always want to try and get better and better, but there is still a lot we need to work on."
The fact that both of Toronto's most recent wins came on the road has given the club a bit of added confidence heading into a match at the fortress that is Sporting Park.
"We do have a confidence about us when we're away from home because we know we play a brand of football that's very dynamic," Nelsen said. "It's very attack- minded and it causes teams trouble away from home because a lot of teams, at home, open themselves up. At home, they're a bit more carefree and open and we play an attacking brand of football that can hurt teams if they're not in the right kind of organization."
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