Rapids-Sporting Kansas City Preview

It’s still early in the MLS is Back Tournament, but both Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids already face a sense of urgency.

Each side needs to rebound from a tournament-opening defeat when they meet in this key Group D contest on Friday night near Orlando, Fla.

Entering the league’s return to play in this World Cup-style event held in the “bubble” of Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex, Sporting and Colorado each won their first two matches prior to the coronavirus pandemic shutdown.

Upon return, the initial results for both have gone the opposite direction, and now they get together Friday with a possibility that a loss for either could essentially end the chance of progression within the tournament – also depending on other circumstances within the group and elsewhere in the event.

Kansas City (2-1-0), lauded for its early season success, fell 2-1 against sizzling Minnesota United FC on Sunday. Khiry Shelton (two goals in 2020) opened the scoring late in the first half to give SKC the advantage at the break. However, Shelton’s own goal in the second minute of stoppage time and Kevin Molino’s goal five minutes later stunned Kansas City and, more importantly, kept it from earning at least a point.

“We are soccer players and we feel frustrated because we have been working so hard,” forward Gerso Fernandes told Sports Radio 810 WHB, as posted on Sporting Kansas City’s official website.

“We know how important the first game (is), and we know it’s important to get the three points to keep the momentum going. That’s soccer, and we’re just thinking (about) the next game against Colorado. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Colorado (2-1-0), meanwhile, opened play with matching 2-1 victories over D.C. United and Orlando City, respectively. However, the Rapids fell flat in their tournament-opening 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Sunday.

“Obviously a disappointing night for all of us. We didn’t play as well as we’re able to,” manager Robin Fraser told the Rapids’ official website. “It looked a lot like four months of not playing. … (Now going forward), it’s just to show who they are.

“I don’t think they gave a great account of themselves. I know what these players are like and what these players are like. Just give a good account of yourself. It’s something they have always done.”

Colorado has enjoyed the better of the play against Sporting Kansas City in recent years. The Rapids are amid a 7-2-2 stretch during the series, and earned four points from the two meetings in 2019.

Longtime MLS staple Kei Kamara has one of Colorado’s four goals this season. He’s recorded four goals and five assists in 13 career matches versus Sporting Kansas City.