Sporting Kansas City-Impact Preview

The Associated Press

Exactly halfway through its season, Sporting Kansas City is in the hunt for the top spot in MLS due in large part to the play of goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.

For the next eight weeks, Kronberg will be on the sidelines as the defending MLS Cup champion continues its quest for the Supporters' Shield.

Andy Gruenebaum is expected to take over in net Saturday night when Sporting Kansas City visits a Montreal Impact team that failed to score on Kronberg in two previous meetings this season.

Kronberg is out after fracturing a bone in his left hand during practice Wednesday. It's a big loss for Sporting Kansas City (7-5-5) since he's started all 17 matches and leads MLS with seven shutouts and a 0.88 goals-against average.

Sporting Kansas City has allowed the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference with 15, and it's given up one during a 2-0-1 stretch. That came in Sunday's 1-all draw against visiting Chicago.

Forward Dom Dwyer scored his 12th goal to move into a tie for second place in MLS with Chivas USA forward Erick Torres. New York forward Bradley Wright-Phillips tops the league with 14.

"I'd rather have three points, but it's nice to get on the score sheet," said Dwyer, who pulled within six goals of Preki's franchise record set in MLS' inaugural season in 1996. "... I really wanted to keep a clean sheet today and was gutted when we allowed one. I thought we defended well throughout the whole game, so I'm a little disappointed there."

Dwyer has a good chance to add to his total this weekend. He scored twice in a 4-0 win over the visiting Impact (3-8-5) on April 19 and had another two goals in a 3-0 victory at Montreal on May 10.

The Impact have scored a conference-low 16 goals and are last in MLS with 14 points. They scored a season-high three times in a shutout of Houston on June 29 before losing 1-0 at Chivas last Saturday on Torres' goal in the final minute of stoppage time.

"I felt that we should have walked away with points today," coach Frank Klopas said. "It's heartbreaking the way we were seconds away and to give up a goal like that, sometimes the game is cruel and I feel for my players. We put a lot into the game and deserved a point."

Montreal will try to get its offense going against Gruenebaum, an eight-year veteran who went 5-11-5 for Columbus last season. Gruenebaum started both of Sporting Kansas City's matches in the U.S. Open Cup last month, beating Minnesota United 2-0 and losing 3-1 to the Portland Timbers.

Sporting Kansas City also recalled Jon Kempin from his loan to USL PRO affiliate OKC Energy FC, where he had five shutouts and a 1.38 GAA in 13 games.