New York City FC-Sporting KC preview
Two teams with four-game unbeaten streaks meet Sunday at Children's Mercy Park, as Eastern Conference-leading New York City FC makes its first-ever visit to Kansas City to face Sporting Kansas City.
NYCFC's unbeaten streak actually comprises four straight wins, tied for the longest by any MLS team this season. The streak has the squad on top of the Eastern Conference standings with 30 points. NYCFC had a pair of shutout victories in the past week, defeating the New York Red Bulls 2-0 and the New England Revolution 1-0. They have a 272-minute shutout run that stands as the longest active streak in MLS.
New York City FC is 5-2-1 on the road this season, with two more road wins than any other team. The Sky Blues are unbeaten in four straight road games dating back to mid-May, winning three and posting shutouts in their last two. Overall, they are 8-5-6 (30 points).
David Villa, a World Cup champion with Spain, leads MLS with 12 goals, while Italian World Cup champion Andrea Pirlo ranks among the top five in chances created. Frank Lampard missed the first 2 1/2 months because of injury, but has scored three goals in his last four appearances, including the game-winner in Wednesday's triumph at New England.
Sporting KC is coming off a dramatic, stoppage-time 3-2 victory over Columbus Crew last Sunday. Matt Besler scored his first goal since 2011 with a 91st-minute header. Benny Feilhaber and Graham Zusi also scored for Sporting, who had their first three-goal game of the season.
The win helped Sporting back above the line in the playoff push with a 7-8-4 record (25 points), good for fifth spot in the Western Conference.
Besler and Zusi both likely will make milestone appearances Sunday. Besler should make his 200th MLS start (including playoffs), while Zusi is set to start his 150th regular season game.
Sporting Kansas City was victorious in its first-ever meeting with New York City at Yankee Stadium on March 28, 2015. Ike Opara's 12th-minute header off a Besler throw-in gave the visitors a 1-0 victory.
Sporting Kansas City will be without leading goal scorer Dom Dwyer, who will serve a one-game suspension Sunday due to caution accumulation. Three players are listed as questionable, as Nuno Coelho (thigh), Chance Myers (hamstring) and Paulo Nagamura (thigh) recover from recent injuries. Meanwhile, New York City FC likely will be without defender Ethan White (adductor strain) and forward Steven Mendoza (core injury).
Updated July 9, 2016