Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Defending champions Sporting Kansas City will aim for a third consecutive victory in league play on Sunday when the club hosts the Chicago Fire at Sporting Park.
Playing without the services of several key squad members due to World Cup duty, Sporting did well to come away with a nervy 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers at Providence Park last time out.
The only goal of the contest came in the 24th minute through Lawrence Olum. Defender Seth Sinovic started the scoring play with a long throw-in into the penalty area. Kevin Ellis got a small touch on the ball before it fell to Olum, who easily slid it past Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
"I thought we were tactically very efficient. I thought we made the game very difficult for them. The only thing they really had was trying to pump the ball into the box," Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said. "I don't think they had many solutions for the way that we played. I thought at times, especially the first half was a different half, we knew in the second half they were going to push everyone very high up the field and it was going to be a little more difficult."
"It is always the same thing here. We expect a very physical game, but we were winning 1-0, so we knew that they would push, push, push the second half and honestly we kept our composure and quite a good line," defender Aurelien Collin said of facing a physical Timbers side.
"I'm very proud of the team. We still have a lot of young guys that have shown, honestly, a lot of experience. We could have managed the game better in the last 20 minutes. We were losing so many balls. When we were winning the ball we could not have more than two or three passes. They were very good in defense. I'm a bit upset about this, but the defensive work was very, very good."
Chicago will hope to get three points on Sunday after coming away with a point on home soil last time out against Toronto FC.
Chicago was handed an advantage in the 29th minute when Toronto's Luke Moore was shown a straight red card for an elbow to the head of Chris Ritter.
Despite playing with the extra man, Toronto took the lead in the 42nd minute when Jackson, unmarked and in acres of space at the back post, headed home a right-wing cross from Jermain Defoe.
Harrison Shipp pulled the Fire level in the 57th minute when he cut inside from the left and unleashed an unstoppable shot past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik on an assist from Mike Magee. That brought the impressive rookie's stats to six goals and four assists in MLS play.
"[The result is] really frustrating. It feels like a loss," Shipp said. "I think we all need to figure out what we need to do better to not fall behind," Shipp continued. "I think that was the key. Right when we started to get in the game, up a man, we gave up the goal which kind of killed us going into halftime."