Western Conference leader Sporting Kansas City (6-3-4, 22 points) wraps up a two-game road swing Saturday with a visit to to the last-place Colorado Rapids (2-8-1, 7 points) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
The 60th regular season meeting between these MLS charter members will kick off at 7 p.m.
FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports Midwest Plus will broadcast three hours of live coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m., while local radio broadcasts will air on Sports Radio 810 WHB (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish
Sporting Kansas City enters Week 13 atop the Western Conference standings despite last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Forward Dom Dwyer, who missed the match with an injured knee, is listed as questionable ahead of this weekend’s clash in Colorado. The Englishman has missed two of Sporting KC’s last three games, but fellow attackers Gerso and Latif Blessing have helped compensate for the absence with multi-goal performances over the last fortnight. Blessing bagged a brace in a 2-2 draw at Orlando City SC on May 13, while Gerso scored a spectacular hat-trick four days later in a 3-0 rout of Seattle Sounders FC.
Defender Ike Opara was rested at Vancouver but is available for selection this weekend to join captain Matt Besler in central defense. Sporting Kansas City has conceded just five goals and lost just once in the 11 matches Opara has started this season.
That stingy record can partially be attributed to the stellar play of goalkeeper Tim Melia, who leads MLS with seven shutouts and an 82.0 save percentage (per Opta). He is one of three teammates to play every minute this year, alongside Besler and defensive midfield stalwart Ilie, who ranks among the MLS leaders in successful passes and duels won.
The Rapids were Major League Soccer’s surprise package in 2016, falling three point shy of the Supporters’ Shield title while losing just six games. Fortunes have been reversed this year, as Colorado has lost seven of its last eight since the start of April to drop to the Western Conference basement.
Head coach Pablo Mastroeni’s men took two road losses last week, falling 3-0 to the Chicago Fire before surrendering the lead in a 2-1 setback to the Philadelphia Union.
While Colorado has gone 0-6-0 away from home, the club remains a threat in the friendly confines of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids never lost at the venue last season, and in 2017 they boast home victories over the New England Revolution and San Jose Earthquakes.
Athletic forward Dominique Badji leads the side with three goals, while combative midfielder Micheal Azira is second in MLS with 36 interceptions.
The absence of center back Axel Sjoberg has only added to Colorado’s early struggles. The 6-foot-7 defender earned MLS Best XI honors in 2016 but has missed eight games this season with a hamstring injury.
Sjoberg returned to the fold last Saturday in Philadelphia, playing the full 90 minutes to give Mastroeni’s side a much-needed boost. That same night, forward Caleb Calvert scored his first MLS goal in spectacular fashion before picking up two yellow cards and a subsequent ejection. As a result, he will serve his one-game suspension this Saturday.
Sporting Kansas City dominated the first meeting between the sides this season, posting a 3-1 home victory on April 9 behind goals from Seth Sinovic, Gerso and Dwyer.
The result snapped a five-game losing streak to the Rapids, who swept the 2016 series with three one-goal wins. Sporting KC owns just one win in 10 regular season visits to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, a 3-2 thriller in March 2014 that saw Graham Zusi, Benny Feilhaber and Dwyer score second-half goals.
– Story from Sporting KC