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Sporting Kansas City-Fire Preview

AP - Sports

Sporting Kansas City is staying optimistic despite its recent struggles but likely won't have one of its top scorers available once again.

Kansas City will try to overcome Kei Kamara's absence and keep pace in a competitive Eastern Conference by topping the Chicago Fire on Friday night.

Losers of three of four, Sporting KC (11-8-6) is tied with New York atop the East, and Philadelphia and Montreal are one point behind those two teams. Kansas City missed an opportunity to reclaim sole possession of the conference lead Sunday with a 1-0 loss at San Jose.

"The glass is always half full," defender Seth Sinovic told the league's website Tuesday. "I think we're a confident team. Despite the result this weekend, we're still at the top of the table with nine games left, so we're in a good spot and we feel like we can take it."

While his team is confident, coach Peter Vermes doesn't share the same outlook on Kamara's health.

The forward, second on the team with seven goals, is dealing with an ankle injury from a hard foul in a 3-0 win over New England on Aug. 10.

"I think it's more than likely that he won't be ready," Vermes said.

Sporting Kansas City, though, might get midfielder Graham Zusi back from a sore right quad, which has kept him out since the All-Star game on July 31.

"He's looking closer right now than Kei is, for sure," Vermes said.

If Zusi returns, he'll try to help Kansas City extend its three-game unbeaten streak against Chicago (9-10-4). Sporting KC recorded a 2-1 win at Toyota Park on July 7, and Zusi scored his team's second goal in the eighth minute.

Chicago enters after having a 3-0-1 streak snapped with a 2-0 loss at New England last Saturday. A win by fifth-place Houston on the same day put the Fire five points behind in the race for the playoffs.

"It was a setback, and now we have to refocus and get ready for Friday. It's a quick turnaround and another very difficult team," defender Gonzalo Segares said. "We're definitely searching for points. ... It's very important to get a win on Friday."

The Fire might get Chris Rolfe (hamstring) and Patrick Nyarko (concussion) back from injuries. Rolfe and Nyarko are tied for second on the team with four goals.

Defender Bakary Soumare, however, will be suspended for this game after confronting a New England trainer following last week's loss. Coach Frank Klopas and assistant Leo Percovich are also suspended.

Mike Matkovich will lead the club during designated player Arevalo Rios' home debut. The midfielder played all 90 minutes in last week's game.

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