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Earthquakes-Sporting Kansas City Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- Without stars Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart, San Jose Earthquakes coach Frank Yallop could give striker Alan Gordon his first start of the season.
If Yallop doesn't, he can only hope Gordon continues his remarkable run of strong finishes.
The Earthquakes try to avoid an eighth straight road loss to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday in the teams' only meeting of the season.
Wondolowski, among the league's best with 11 goals, will miss his second straight match Sunday as he's with the U.S. national team. Lenhart, second on the club with five goals, is suspended due to yellow-card accumulation.
Gordon would seem like the logical replacement up top after scoring the game-winner or tying goal in the 88th minute or later in each of the last three matches. His header in stoppage time Wednesday gave the Earthquakes a 3-2 road win over Los Angeles after they went into the 75th minute down by two.
San Jose (8-2-3), leading the Western Conference with 26 goals, is 3-1-3 when the other team scores first.
"We never say die with the characters on this team," Gordon told the Earthquakes' official website.
While Gordon has been the team's best finisher, he's played in only six matches in 2012 following offseason surgeries. Yallop admitted he's concerned how long Gordon would be able to go if he started, but the 30-year-old striker is ready to give it a try.
"Yeah, why not?" Gordon said. "We don't have any other options. ... I am a tough player, so I think I can get through it."
The Earthquakes are 4-1-1 on the road this season but have dropped seven in a row at Kansas City since a 2-0 victory Aug. 14, 2004.
Sporting (7-3-1), though, enters this match on an 0-3-1 skid after opening the season with a franchise-record seven straight wins.
In last Saturday's 2-all draw at Colorado, the club led 2-0 in the 14th minute after Teal Bunbury - making his first start in place of the struggling C.J. Sapong - recorded his fourth two-goal game in MLS play.
"We wanted to get out of here with three (points), but this was still a good result for us," coach Peter Vermes told MLS' official website.
Kansas City goaltender Jimmy Nielsen wasn't as positive about the draw.
"When you have a 2-0 lead at half, you better have a better result," said Nielsen, who has surrendered seven goals since giving up two total during the 7-0-0 start.
These clubs played to a 1-all draw in Santa Clara, Calif., on Oct. 1 when Bunbury scored the equalizer a minute after Wondolowski's 85th-minute goal.
Sapong, who set up Bunbury's score in that match, netted the lone goal in San Jose's first visit to Livestrong Park on June 17.
Sporting's last five-game winless streak was an 0-4-6 stretch March 26-June 9, 2011.
Updated May 26, 2012