By DAN KARELL
Sporting Kansas City open up a run of eight Eastern Conference opponents in nine matches on Friday in Chicago, but they’ll have to start it without one of their best players.
Head coach Peter Vermes confirmed this week that Kei Kamara will miss the match against the Chicago Fire, as he is still smarting from a sprained left ankle suffered two weeks ago. Soony Saad and Jacob Peterson earned starts last week, and the duo could reprise their roles again on Friday at Toyota Park.
The good news for Sporting KC is that Graham Zusi returned to full training this week, and is likely to see some playing time, whether in the starting lineup or off the bench.
Here are some more notes from around the Eastern Conference:
The Chicago Fire are hoping for a big boost on Friday as Patrick Nyarko and Chris Rolfe have returned to training.
Rolfe is nearly set to go, after missing the loss on Saturday to the Columbus Crew due to a hamstring injury, but Nyarko is going to be a game-time decision, as the winger is overcoming a concussion.
Fire head coach Frank Klopas is hopeful that the two will be available for selection against Sporting Kansas City.
One of the bright points in a frustrating season for the Columbus Crew this season has been the play of homegrown signing Wil Trapp.
The former U.S. Under-20 midfielder has locked down a starting spot in the Crew lineup, making six straight starts. In addition, a formation change by head coach Robert Warzycha has left Trapp on his own in defensive midfield, with Federico Higuain playing up top next to Jairo Arrieta and Dominic Oduro coming in from the wings to play behind the strikers.
Higuain was very complimentary of the 21-year-old Trapp last week, saying that he is a talented player and mature beyond his years.
“I don’t necessarily consider him to be that young,” Higuain said to the Columbus Dispatch. “Young in other countries means 16, 17 years old. I consider him to be a mature kid at this stage. As far as his qualities go, he’s very talented and he brings a lot to this team.”
Ben Olsen has had plenty of experience during his long playing career in professional soccer, but it’s unlikely he’s experienced anything like this season at D.C. United.
The head coach of the last-place club in the Eastern Conference spoke this week of his growth as a person and coach, saying that if he’s brought back for next season, he’ll have learned from a lot of his mistakes.
“As far as what I’ve learned: managing, managing emotions, teaching,” Olsen said to MLSSoccer.com. “Every facet of this job, I have learned more in these six, seven months than I have up until this year. There has been no shortage of lessons for all of us. And if I survive this, I’ll be a much better coach for this. I will.”
With the Houston Dynamo’s 3-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders last week, head coach Dominic Kinnear moved into a tie for third place on the all-time win list in Major League Soccer with former U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bob Bradley.
And with Kinnear’s next win, he will gain sole possession of third place on the list. Currently the Scottish-born manager holds 124 wins, 83 losses, and 98 draws in his nine year head coaching career. Still ahead of Kinnear is Bruce Arena of the LA Galaxy, and Sigi Schmid of the Seattle Sounders.
For the third time this season, Montreal Impact head coach Marco Schallibaum didn’t watch the end of a match from the sidelines.
The Swiss head coach was ejected during his side’s 2-1 victory over D.C. United last Saturday, and this week Schallibaum apologized to his team, saying that he should be a better example for them and not lose his temper.
Meanwhile, even though he is suspended for the match on Saturday against Houston, Schallibaum was on the bench for the Impact’s 1-0 defeat to Heredia in the CONCACAF Champions League.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Last Saturday, a familiar face showed up in goal for the New England Revolution.
Matt Reis made his first start for the club since March 23, just a few weeks before the tragedy during the Boston Marathon forced Reis off the field for personal reasons. But following a clean sheet and solid performance at home, Reis is now again in the running to be a starter, making it an exciting goalkeeping competition in Foxborough.
Revolution head coach Jay Heaps has yet to decide on a goalkeeper for the next match against the Philadelphia Union on Sunday, with the regular for most of the season, Bobby Shuttleworth, having made 21 starts during this season.
NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls head back on the road this weekend with a long trip to Los Angeles to face struggling Chivas USA.
While they should be able to top their opponent on Sunday, the Red Bulls have struggled recently to score outside of the friendly confines of Red Bull Arena. Since June, the club has scored just three goals in road matches, all of which came in the stunning 3-2 victory at Sporting Kansas City.
The Red Bulls were shut out at the Colorado Rapids, Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew and Toronto FC in that same stretch.
Following Toronto FC’s match on Saturday at D.C. United, they’ll be missing one of their regular starters for the rest of the season.
Jeremy Brockie’s loan is set to expire and the 25-year-old will be traveling back to Wellington Phoenix in the A-League on Sunday, ending his nearly four month stay with just one goal and three wins as of Thursday. Despite the lack of scoring, Brockie has admitted that he’d be interested in returning to the club if given the opportunity.
The New Zealand international played in 14 games this season for TFC, starting ten, including the club’s last nine matches.
What do you think of these notes? Do you see Sporting KC missing Kamara against the Fire? Surprised that Kinnear is in third place on the all-time MLS wins list? Do you see the Red Bulls overcoming their scoring woes this weekend?
Share your thoughts below.