MLS Soccer Predictions – Chicago Fire vs Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City will end a 10-game road trip by playing its first match in its brand new stadium on Thursday night, when they take on a struggling Chicago Fire side that is currently in the midst of a club-record 10-game winless run.
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Matchup: Chicago Fire at Sporting Kansas City
Date: Thursday, June 9, 2011
Time: Kick-off: 10:00 PM EST
Venue: Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, MO.
MLS Fixture Betting Lines and Odds from BetOnline
Money Line: Chicago (+280), Kansas City (-110), Draw (+230)
Over/Under: 2 ½
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The Fire will look to spoil Kansas City’s unveiling of Livestrong Sporting Park, coming off a scoreless draw with the Seattle Sounders FC in Frank Klopas’ coaching debut on Saturday at Toyota Park.
The Fire have not won since the second week of the season, but have still taken points in six of their last seven games after a scoreless draw with Houston, and has 10 points from 12 matches on the year, enough for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The side has just one loss since April 23. A 2-1 defeat to the expansion Philadelphia Union on May 21.
In their match against the Sounders, Fire keeper Sean Johnson put on a goaltending clinic, making three huge saves on the night, including two successive stops early on, denying Sounders FC striker Lamar Neagle on both occasions. It was Johnson’s first shutout of the season in his second consecutive start after returning to the Fire lineup. Johnson had started the first four games of the season for Chicago before giving way to Jon Conway.
Meanwhile, Sporting is coming off back-to-back results for the first time this season, with a 1-1 tie in Colorado, followed by a scoreless draw at Toronto FC to finish its MLS record-setting road swing, with one win and three draws.
Kansas City is the fourth club in MLS history to start the year with multiple games on the road while awaiting a new home, but the road hasn’t been kind, as the side has taken just six points from 30, and find themselves in last place in the Eastern Conference, 15 points behind first place Philadelphia.
Against Toronto, goalkeeper Eric Kronberg made just his second start of the season between the sticks–his third career appearance since being selected in the 2006 MLS Super Draft–and backstopped the club’s first shutout of the year. Kronberg was called upon to pull duty for first choice keeper Jimmy Nielsen, who remained in Kansas City, hospitalized with an infection. However, the Danish veteran is expected to make the start for the home opener on Thursday.
Despite KC’s troubles on the pitch thus far in the season, the side did look much more organized and balanced throughout the entire 90 minutes against the Reds.
The Fire leads the all time series with Sporting, taking 21 wins from 39 meetings and outscoring KC, 77-49. The clubs have also drawn on eight occasions with one shutout by Chicago. However, when playing in Kansas City, the series is tied with seven wins apiece and six draws.
This will be the second time these two clubs have met this season, after the Fire claimed a 3-2 victory at Toyota Park on March 26.
Chicago took the lead in that meeting on Diego Chaves’ penalty kick in the 34th minute that came as a result of Omar Bravo’s sending off after pulling down Gaston Puerari as he raced into the area on a breakaway run.
The Fire doubled their advantage in the 40th when Puerari curled a 15-yard shot past Nielsen.
Kansas City defender Matt Besler put Sporting on the board just after the break, but Chicago’s Marco Pappa restored the two-goal margin in the 59th minute.
Sporting made a last ditch effort, pulling back to within one on a goal fromTeal Bunbury in the 72nd minute, but time would expire before KC could find the equalizer.
Matt’s Free Prediction:Sporting Kansas City-It’s hard to bet against the side lifting the curtain on its new stadium. So I expect Sporting to win for the first time since opening day, 1-0.
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Matt Martz is a sportswriter for the Bakersfield Californian, the Oregonian, Springfield Republican, Sacramento Bee, and the San Diego Union Tribune. I leave handicapping to the pros. Blessed is the gambler who expects nothing, for ye shall not be disappointed.