Prep Talk: Sporting KC at Toronto FC

For this week's Prep Talk, I spoke with the Toronto Sun's Kurtis Larson.

How has Toronto FC been playing lately and what's their form heading into Saturday's match?

Last weekend's loss in New York exposed Toronto for what it is: A club with a number of starters who likely wouldn't get a sniff at many clubs around the league. In terms of dangerous players, Toronto has none. Robert Earnshaw cooled off a long time ago and Bright Dike hasn't shown he's capable of scoring on a regular basis in this league. Simply put, the Reds have no one who strikes fear into their opponents, which has seen the club embark on a seven match winless run.

How have the midseason acquisitions fit into the team (such as former SKC players Bobby Convey and Michael Thomas)?

Convey has been a decent addition but I'm not sure he's provided the kind of midseason lift management was expecting. He's nowhere close to the same player he was three or four years ago. Still, he's a veteran who has been good when receiving the ball centrally. The consistency, though, hasn't been there. As for Thomas, he's still looking to break into the first team here in Toronto. He hasn't really been given a first-team look. It's possible that with multiple injuries/suspensions he could see time in midfield Saturday.

Do you expect to see any carryover from the first two meetings between the two sides (TFC won 2-1 in March, SKC won 3-0 in July)?

No, simply because I think both were one-off matches. Toronto FC was never as good as that 2-1 win back in March and TFC isn't as bad as that 3-0 loss in July made it out to be. If anything, I think TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen will look to use that lopsided result at Sporting Park as motivation.

What do you see as the keys to Saturday's match?

Will Kansas City be recovered from its midweek Champions League match? Fans in Toronto know how difficult is to compete in multiple competitions after making the CONCACAF Champions League four straight years. The other key for Toronto is shutting down Claudio Bieler, who is Kansas City's only real scoring threat after KC allowed Kei Kamara to leave for England.

How do you expect Toronto FC to approach Saturday's match?

With Jonathan Osorio set to miss tomorrow's match through suspension, Nelsen could elect to play a pair of holding midfielders -- something that should allow Sporting Kansas City to dictate play. The Reds will look to take advantage of any and every set piece they can get after watching Real Esteli earn a draw at Sporting Park midweek due to lax marking inside KC's box.

What's your prediction for Saturday's match?

1-1, but only because Toronto FC is playing a day after inking a new general manager, which I think will spur the players on to want to impress new management. Furthermore, the Reds always seem to play KC tough at home, meaning I wouldn't be surprised to see a dull and drawn out 90-minute affair that sees TFC plant 11 players behind the ball in securing a point. 

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