Preview Sporting KC completes coast-to-coast road trip on Saturday at defending MLS Cup champs

1st place Sporting KC takes on LA Galaxy on NBC Sports Network

Sporting KC at LA Galaxy
Saturday, April 20, 2013 – 9:30 p.m. CT
Home Depot Center | Carson, California

English TV: NBC Sports Network
Spanish Radio: La Gran D 1340 AM

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Sporting Kansas City takes on the LA Galaxy at 9:30 p.m. CT on Saturday at The Home Depot Center in the second leg of a coast-to-coast road trip following a 1-0 victory at the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday that moved the team into first place in the Eastern Conference. The marquee match-up will be nationally televised on the NBC Sports Network and the game will also air live locally on La Gran D 1340 AM.

Tomorrow’s match is the lone regular season meeting between Sporting Kansas City and the LA Galaxy during the 2013 MLS regular season. In their only meeting a year ago, Sporting Kansas City secured the 1-0 victory at Sporting Park. In the past eight contests between the two clubs dating back to May 2008, Sporting KC has suffered only one loss against the two-time defending MLS Cup champions

Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen is currently in the midst of a 519-minute shutout streak that includes a clean sheet in each of his past five matches. The streak is second in club history behind only Tony Meola, whose 681-minute benchmark is the longest in League history and was set in 2000 when the club won the MLS Cup title.

Should Sporting Kansas City keep the LA Galaxy scoreless for 48 minutes on Saturday, Nielsen would move into third place on the League’s all-time chart for shutout streaks. And should Sporting KC hold the LA Galaxy scoreless for the entire match, Nielsen would surpass Meola for most shutouts in club history with 38.

Saturday’s match-up features two of the top defenders in MLS with the 2011 and 2012 MLS Defender of the Year winners in Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, respectively. The center back’s reunite for the first time since being chosen as Jurgen Klinsmann’s central pairing in the United States Men’s National Team’s most recent FIFA World Cup Qualifier, leading the U.S. MNT to the country’s second-ever draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in late Match.

Graham Zusi, who also featured for the U.S. in that pivotal performance, currently leads Major League Soccer in assists with three, including the game-winning assist in Wednesday’s win. The assist moved Zusi into sole possession of third place on the club’s all-time chart for game-winning assists with 11 and into fifth place in club history for overall assists with 26.

Claudio Bieler is also a League leader for Sporting Kansas City, scoring four goals in seven matches trailing only the LA Galaxy’s Mike Magee and Toronto FC’s Robert Earnshaw, who have both scored five times on the year.

Sporting Kansas City enters the match after three consecutive victories, defeating the Montreal Impact, D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls. The LA Galaxy most recently fell 3-1 on aggregate to Monterrey in the 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League semifinals before suffering a 1-0 defeat against FC Dallas last weekend.

Sporting Kansas City and the LA Galaxy are two of the four MLS teams that have already qualified for the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions League to compete for the regional club championship.

The LA Galaxy, unbeaten at home in MLS play this season, will be without Brazilian centerback Leonardo, who serves a mandatory one-game suspension from his ejection last weekend, in front of MLS newcomer and former Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini. On the attacking side, the Galaxy’s Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan form a Designated Player duo that have combined for 40 goals and 28 assists since 2011.

Sporting Kansas City supporters can follow the match online via @SKCGameday on Twitter and the SportingKC.com/gameon page or on mobile devices with the MLS MatchDay app. Additionally, fans outside the local viewing area can watch live on Direct Kick and MLS LIVE.