Sporting Kansas City-Toronto FC Preview

The Associated Press

Sporting Kansas City and Toronto FC are both looking to regroup after mid-week losses in friendlies against Premier League clubs.

Given the way Sporting has looked recently in league play, bouncing back shouldn't be a problem.

Eastern Conference-leading Kansas City seeks a sixth win in seven league matches Saturday night when it visits Toronto, which will be without its top scorer.

Sporting (10-5-5) took a 4-1 loss Wednesday to reigning Premier League champions Manchester City. Benny Feilhaber assisted on C.J. Sapong's score in the 30th minute.

Coach Peter Vermes wasn't overly discouraged by the result although his team had a 9-2 disadvantage in shots on goals.

"For us, our focus is on the league," Vermes told the team's official website. "We have a big game Saturday, and that's where for focus was and is. Everybody got out of here with no injuries, which is great. It was a good environment, a good game, and it was a good 45 minutes for both groups."

Vermes' club leads the East with 35 points and is 5-0-1 in its last six league matches, including four road victories. Feilhaber has scored in each of his last two games and has four assists in his last nine.

Sporting defeated Los Angeles 2-1 last Saturday for its third straight win - all by the same score. The club hasn't won four consecutive league matches since opening the 2012 season with seven straight victories.

Toronto (7-5-5) lost 3-2 versus Tottenham on Wednesday. After trailing 2-0 at halftime, Toronto equalized with two second-half goals before surrendering the winner in the 85th minute.

However, unlike Kansas City, Toronto can't fall back on recent success in league play. Though the club is just nine points back of first place, Toronto has won once in its last six league matches while drawing four times, including a 2-all match at Houston last Saturday.

Making matters worse, Jermain Defoe - who ranks fourth in MLS with 11 goals - will be suspended due to yellow-card accumulation. He received a yellow against Houston after an exchange with Dynamo defender David Horst.

Defoe came off the bench versus Houston, though, and coach Ryan Nelsen was pleased with the way his team looked without its top scoring threat.

"It shows you that even if Jermain's not there, we're still a very attacking team, a very dynamic team going forward," he told the league's official website.

Toronto's next highest-scoring player is Luke Moore with three goals, though he's scored just once in his last eight matches.

Sporting is 7-1-3 against Toronto since the start of the 2010 season. The clubs played to a 2-all draw on May 23 with Dom Dwyer scoring twice for Kansas City. Moore found the back of the net in the 67th minute and Bradley Orr tied the score in the first minute of stoppage time.

Sapong scored both of Kansas City's goals in a 2-1 win at Toronto on Sept. 21, 2013.

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