Teal Bunbury vs. D.C. United DL
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Preview: Sporting KC opens 2012 season at D.C. United

Sporting Kansas City at D.C. United
Saturday, March 10, 2012 – 6:30 p.m. CT
RFK Stadium | Washington, D.C.

English TV: KSMO-TV
Spanish Radio: 1340 La Gran D

Sporting Kansas City kicks off the team’s 2012 Major League Soccer season at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday on the road at D.C. United. The match will be shown live on KSMO-TV with a 30-minute pre-game show starting at 6:00 p.m. CT and will be available over the airwaves on La Gran D 1340 AM (Espanol).

After securing the club’s first place finish in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 win at RFK Stadium in last year’s regular season finale, Sporting KC returns to Washington, D.C. with all 11 starters from the Eastern Conference Championship match in the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs.

New club captain and 2011 team MVP Jimmy Nielsen will anchor the Sporting Kansas City defense in goal, while the backline is led by 2011 MLS All-Star Matt Besler. On the opposite end of the field, Sporting’s wealth of attacking options include two of the team’s leading goal scorers from a year ago, Teal Bunbury and Kei Kamara, as well as 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong and the newly acquired veteran Bobby Convey.

Midfielder Graham Zusi, named the League’s Breakout Player of the Year in 2011, is coming off a strong debut with the U.S. Men’s National Team and will be available for selection after working through a quad strain in the late stages of this pre-season.

Sporting Kansas City will face a strong D.C. United side that includes 2011 Major League Soccer MVP Dwayne de Rosario, the Designated Player duo of Hamdi Salihi and Branko Boskovic, as well as Homegrown internationals Andy Najar and Bill Hamid. Despite a 9-13-12 record and seventh place finish in 2011, D.C. United are aiming to return to the postseason for the first time since 2007.

D.C. United hold the edge in the all-time series at 18-16-9, including a 12-5-4 mark at home in meetings between the two clubs. But Sporting KC swept the season series in 2011 with a pair of 1-0 victories and the club boasts an MLS-best 10-4-2 mark in season openers with only one loss in the last 10 years.

Saturday marks the seventh time Sporting KC has opened an MLS season against D.C. United, most of any MLS opponent, and the team is 4-2-0 in those matches.

The Members’ Club at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park will host a First Kick watch party on Saturday, with new merchandise for the 2012 season available to purchase along with food and drink. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. CT and all attending are encouraged to park in Lot C.

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