Fire-Sporting Kansas City Preview

The Associated Press

Though Matt Besler and Graham Zusi have returned from World Cup competition, Sporting Kansas City will likely remain without those two for the time being.

Given the way Sporting is playing, the club may not need them against the struggling Chicago Fire.

Kansas City seeks a third straight shutout win Sunday when it hosts the Fire, who are winless in their last five matches.

Neither Besler nor Zusi have seen MLS action since May 14 due to their involvement with the men's national team. Though Sporting (7-5-4) went 0-2-2 in the first four matches following their departures for Brazil, the team has since rebounded for back-to-back shutout wins at Houston and Portland.

The 14 goals allowed by KC are the second-fewest in MLS, and keeper Eric Kronberg leads the league with seven shutouts.

Besler and Zusi aren't expected to play Sunday, though they will be recognized prior to the match. Coach Peter Vermes is hoping Lawrence Olum will be available after leaving last Friday's 1-0 win over Portland with an injury in the second half. He scored his first goal of the season in the 24th minute.

"I think it's more of a tweak and I think it's good, because we don't actually play until next Sunday so hopefully those extra days are going to get him back on the field because we needed him," Vermes told the league's official website.

Midfielder Benny Feilhaber is questionable with a sprained shoulder that has seen him miss three matches across all competitions.

The Fire (2-4-9) are 1-2-4 on the road this season and haven't scored away from home since a 5-4 win at New York on May 10. Chicago is winless in five straight matches overall since a 2-1 victory over Sporting on May 18.

Coach Frank Yallop's side hasn't looked like the same squad lately, though, tallying just four goals during its winless stretch.

"I've said it a few times, we've tied and maybe deserved to win the game, but we haven't. That's our problem right now: we can't seem to win a game," Yallop said. "We haven't lost a ton, but we haven't won many. It's a weird situation, it's frustrating, we can't get over the finish line with a win."

Compounding Chicago's problems will be the absence of second-leading scorer Quincy Amarikwa, who has five goals but is suspended for this match due to yellow card accumulation.

The Fire played to a 1-all draw with Toronto FC on Wednesday, falling behind in the 42nd minute despite a red card leaving Toronto with 10 men 13 minutes earlier. Rookie Harrison Shipp answered in the 57th minute with his team-leading sixth goal of the season, all of which have come in his last seven games.

Mike Magee assisted on the goal in his first league match since the win over Kansas City after he had been sidelined by a strained calf.

Magee scored on two penalties within the first 15 minutes in the teams' first matchup. Kansas City played with 10 men from the 64th minute on after Erik Palmer-Brown received a second yellow card.

The teams have drawn in five of their last eight meetings in Kansas City.

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