Sporting Kansas City is on the downhill side of its 12-day break.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
While Sporting KC didn’t break from the gate quite like it did in 2012, the two-time reigning Eastern Conference champions strung together four consecutive shutouts before this week’s bye.
The last two games in particular were strong for Sporting KC, 3-1-2, which ended the Montreal Impact’s unbeaten run to start the season March 30 with a 2-0 win and finished off D.C. United 1-0 on April 5 thanks to an 89th-minute goal by Claudio Bieler.
That’s not to say Sporting KC didn’t have plenty to work on this week.
“We’ve been working tactically and resting a little bit physically, but we’re trying to correct the little details,” said MLS Best XI and all-star defender Aurelien Collin. “We’ve been good, but we weren’t perfect.”
Still, those victories created plenty of good vibes for Sporting KC and ensured that training remained at a high level despite the nearly two-week hiatus between games.
“There’s a tendency with a bye week for the quality of the training to go down, so it’s a credit to all the guys that the level’s been high despite the volume being low,” Sporting KC assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin said.
Considering the travel-packed week ahead, the timing of the bye wasn’t bad.
Sporting KC plays the New York Red Bulls at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., then faces the reigning MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. — nearly 2,800 miles away.
“I can’t say there’s been any real change of direction (at training),” Zavagnin said. “It’s been mostly just a reduction in volume and getting these guys physically and mentally prepared for the long week ahead.”
The good news is that Sporting KC is relatively close to full strength.
Forward Teal Bunbury will remain sidelined for a few more months recovering from a torn ACL, but fellow veteran forward Jacob Peterson is nearing a return from offseason shoulder surgery.
“I think he’s close,” Zavagnin said of Peterson. “I don’t know as of right now what the official status on him is, but he’s been participating in training. He’s very close, but we want to be careful, because right now he’s got a little bit of a hamstring tweak that he suffered.”
The only other injury of note is veteran midfielder Josh Gardner, who is still battling a strained quad — an nagging injury that surfaced in the preseason.
Sporting Park to host Walk MS
Prior to Sporting KC’s next home match, April 27 against the Portland Timbers, Sporting Park will host the 2013 Greater Kansas City Walk MS.
The Walk MS will feature one-, three- and six-mile routes and participants can walk as individuals or as part of a team.
To register, visit walk.MSmidamerica.org or call 1-800-344-4867. Participants also can RSVP on Facebook.
Registered participants will have the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets for that evening’s match, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Contact Darin Canova at (913) 387-3443 by April 15 to take advantage of the discounted-ticket offer.
Sporting tops UMKC in scrimmage
Forward C.J. Sapong notched the game-winning goal in the first half, but fellow forward Soony Saad added a second-half brace for insurance as Sporting KC topped UMKC 3-0 in a scrimmage Saturday at the club’s Swope Park training facility.
Sapong redirected a deflected shot from Uri Rosell into the Kangaroos goal in the 30th minute.
Saad’s first goal, a left-footed strike off a cross from Kevin Ellis, came in the 75th minute. The second goal 13 minutes later was unassisted.
Montreal Impact coach Marco Schallibaum was suspended for Saturday’s match with the Columbus Crew at Stade Saputo.
He had been ejected for tossing a water bottle toward a match official after Graham Zusi’s 80th-minute goal in a 2-0 loss to Sporting KC on March 30 at Sporting Park.
The Impact, 4-1-0, which leads Sporting KC by one point in the Eastern Conference standings, had a bye last weekend.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.