Toronto FC begin their seventh home campaign in club history when they play host to Sporting Kansas City at Rogers Centre on Saturday afternoon. TFC began Ryan Nelsen’s era in charge as head coach with a 1-0 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC last weekend. Sporting opened their new season on the road, coming away from PPL Park with a 3-1 win against Philadelphia Union.
REFEREE: Fotis Bazakos. SAR (bench): Peter Manikowski; JAR (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Silviu Petrescu
MLS Career: 10 games; FC/gm: 23.7; Y/gm: 1.8; R: 0; pens: 2
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RELATED: Nelsen | O'Dea | Bostock | Ephraim | The Ambush | Get tickets online
UPDATE: Toronto FC added attacking midfielder John Bostock on loan from Tottenham on Friday. He could be available for Saturday's match against Kansas City pending receipt of his international transfer certificate. Reds may still have to cope without midfielder Luis Silva, who trained away from the first team on Friday still nursing a hamstring injury. Another midfielder, Kyle Bekker, missed training earlier in the week with the flu. However, Bekker was a full participant at training on Friday.
DISABLED LIST: SKC - Teal Bunbury, Jacob Peterson
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
ALL-TIME (15 meetings): Toronto FC 3 wins, 10 goals ... Sporting 8 wins, 19 goals ... Ties 4
AT TORONTO (21 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 3 goals ... Sporting 2 wins, 2 goals ... Ties 3
RETURN MATCHES: 7/13: Sporting Kansas City vs. Toronto FC, 7:30 p.m. CT; Toronto FC vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4 p.m. ET
LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/16: KC 2, TOR 0 (Sapong 18; Julio Cesar 35)
8/18: TOR 0, KC 1 (Kamara 83)
9/1: KC 2, TOR 1 (Nagamura 60; Rosell 87 – Johnson 44)
- Sporting have won the last four meetings between the teams, including all three encounters a season ago.
- Toronto FC have not defeated Sporting KC since a 1-0 win April 26, 2009 at BMO Field, a span now of seven matches (0-2-5).
- Coaches record: Ryan Nelsen vs. KC: first game ... Peter Vermes vs. TOR: P7 W5 L0 D2
The Ryan Nelsen era didn’t get off to the start as planned in his first game in charge at Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC claiming a 1-0 win Saturday at BC Place.
- The game's lone goal came just before the hour. A nifty passing sequence around the edge of the TFC penalty area saw Daigo Kobayashi roll a cool lay-off that teed up Gershon Koffie for a shot, and the Ghanaian hammered the eventual game-winner past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
- New signings Robert Earnshaw and Hogan Ephraim were installed quickly into the TFC attack, while rookie Kyle Bekker started in the center of the park. Joseph Bendik deputized in goal behind veteran Danny Califf.
- TORONTO FC (4-2-3-1): Joseph Bendik - Richard Eckersley, Darren O'Dea, Danny Califf, Ashtone Morgan - Jeremy Hall, Terry Dunfield (Taylor Morgan 75) - Reggie Lambe, Kyle Bekker, Hogan Ephraim - Robert Earnshaw (Emery Welshman 85).
- Toronto FC saw their league winless streak extended to 15 matches dating back to July 28 of last season, now three matches away from the all-time MLS record set by Real Salt Lake in 2005-06.
- “They worked their socks off and put a real shift in. They had a really good first half in which I really feel they dictated the game and had a couple of very good opportunities,” said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen. “If we had taken one of those, it would have been a whole different ball game. We’ve played away from home and delivered a very good account of ourselves and had some very good chances. This team will only get better.”
- Robert Earnshaw was given the start as the spearhead to the TFC attack, though he was cleared for duty just the night before the match.
- Hogan Ephraim, most recently with Queens’ Park Rangers in the English Premiership, was also given his TFC and MLS debut in a wide left role.
- “We have a few new players that were playing their first game, that didn’t have the preseason under their belt, that were probably fatiguing at the end. For the first game away from home, I was really happy for the guys,” said Nelsen. “This team is only going to get stronger. This is the first game for Rob and Hogan, and Morgan’s just come back from injury, so we know we had a few guys up there that didn’t have the luxury of a preseason and we will only get better.”
- “Even last night, I didn’t know if I was playing or not. Considering I haven’t played many minutes in the last few months, it was good to get out there,” said Earnshaw. “ ... Everything I expected was there. During the game, I was thinking I made the right decision. I was enjoying myself. And that’s the one thing you need to have, enjoying yourself.”
- Danny Califf was able to last the full 90 minutes, coming off a knee injury, partnering Darren O’Dea in central defense.
- “It was a bit more of an even match and certainly I thought they put us in a lot of pressure for the first 15 minutes. But overall, certainly for us, it was positive in that we got a game under our belts, we got 90 minutes in this kind of intensity,” said Califf. “It was one of the first times a lot of us had played together with the new additions. I think we did a lot of good things. We showed a lot of effort, a lot of heart, a lot of fight and those are the things that will be important going forward.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City once again got a new season off to a rampaging start, coming back from an early deficit for a 3-1 win against Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park.
- Union took the lead in the 17th minute. Sebastien Le Toux snuck behind the SKC defense and received a brilliant over-the-top ball from Keon Daniel, managing to control the long pass and immediately fire it past SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
- Sporting leveled the scoreline just minutes before halftime. Bobby Convey made a nifty move along the sideline and played a cross into the box to Claudio Bieler, who headed it back to fellow SKC newcomer Benny Feilhaber. Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath blocked Feilhaber’s blast but could not do the same on Graham Zusi’s close-range rebound.
- SKC took the lead in the 66th minute when Zusi whipped in a sharp free kick from the left to Oriol Rosell, who broke free of his mark and headed it past MacMath.
- Sporting put the game away in the 83rd minute. Chance Myers laid the ball back for Bieler from the right side of the area and he took a composed left-footed shot that beat MacMath to open his MLS scoring account.
- Benny Feilhaber was given the start in the center of the park and Claudio Bieler made his debut for the club in the spearhead attacker role for Peter Vermes.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-3-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers (Mechack Jerome 90), Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Paulo Nagamura, Benny Feilhaber (Peterson Joseph 82), Oriol Rosell - Graham Zusi, Claudio Bieler, Bobby Convey (C.J. Sapong 63).
- Graham Zusi, who led MLS with 15 assists a season ago in being selected to the MLS Best XI, scoring the opening goal then recorded assists on their final two.
- “We've got certain guys on the team who can change the outcome of a game and he's one of those guys,” manager Peter Vermes said. “When he's on, he's on. That was huge for us and huge for him.”
- Said Zusi: “A game like that can provide quite a bit of confidence for a team on the road. Statistics aren't very good for a team that goes down on the road to come back and win, so I think it will bode well for us if we're ever in that situation again.”
- SKC’s newly-signed Designated Player, Claudio Bieler, celebrated his debut with his opening goal in MLS play.
- “We have patience with him, it’s going to take him a little time to adjust to the league and to our team, and you don’t really get any experience playing in MLS until you play in MLS, and this is his first game,” said Vermes. “I think it’s big that he gets the goal, but he was very good tonight in so many other areas and that’s why he is a very, very good addition to our team. He still has a lot to understand on how and what we want from him at his individual position and how it ultimately affects the collective.”
- With Julio César having departed the club in the offseason, Oriol Rosell was given the start in a deep-lying central midfield role and scored his second MLS goal. Rosell scored a goal in five league appearances (one start) for SKC last season.
- “I feel really good, when you start the year with the preseason is good because we can train together and keep going and the road is very long and we need to keep going and working,” said Rosell. “My parents are in Spain and my girlfriend will be with me in ten days. I haven’t talked to them but I think they’ll be happy for me for scoring a goal.”
- For a third consecutive season, Kansas City opened the season with a road victory, winning at D.C. United last season and at Chivas USA the year before.
- “[The] opening game is always a difficult game for any team, doing it away from home is even tougher based on the fact you are going into someone else’s place, full stadium, they want to drive the game, and everyone is trying to find themselves,”said Vermes.