Preview: D.C. United vs. Sporting Kansas City
D.C. Untied takes on Sporting Kansas City tonight (5 p.m. ET; Comcast SportsNet), the second time the two teams will face off in 2013, but the first and only time Kansas City will visit RFK Stadium this season.
The two teams met previously at Sporting Park on 4/5, however, the Black-and-Red left empty handed after a hard fought, 90-minute battle. United gave up a goal late when a United defensive error led to Sporting Kansas City’s Claudio Bieler’s goal in the 89th minute.
When asked about how he felt about D.C. United’s last matchup against Sporting, D.C. United head Coach Ben Olsen remains positive even though United went down late.
“I thought we put in a pretty good performance,” said Olsen. “It was kind of one of the brighter spots of the year even though it was a loss.”
Since then, Sporting has accumulated a 6-4-2 record, finding itself third in the Eastern Conference. Most recently, Kansas City snapped Houston’s 36-game home-unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win on 5/12. The goal came in the 73rd minute off the head of Sporting's 2012 Defender of the Year finalist Aurelien Collin, who flicked on the chance from a long throw in. However, Collin will be absent from Kansas City's 18-man roster for tonight’s match due to excessive accumulation of yellow cards. Collin will be sidelined alongside midfielder Oriol Rosell, a product of Barcelona’s famed La Masia Academy, who is suspended for the same infraction.
The Black-and-Red has been gaining, rather than losing, its key players. In United’s last match, second-year midfielder Nick DeLeon enjoyed his first start since 3/23. The Black-and-Red took on FC Dallas last Saturday, ultimately falling 2-1. But, out of the loss came a positive—D.C. United scored its first road goal of 2013 by way of a Dwayne De Rosario set piece strike from just outside the 18-yard box.
Adding to the offensive power that comes from DeLeon, De Rosario, and rookie Kyle Porter, United midfielder Chris Pontius is back healthy after being sidelined with a groin injury—having last played on 4/21 against the Philadelphia Union—and could very well appear in tonight’s match.
“He’s had a good week,” commented D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen about midfielder Chris Pontius’ status. “He had a good week last week and we were hoping that he could be involved, but we decided we didn’t want to risk him. And [now] I think he’s good to go.”