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Sporting Kansas City-Red Bulls Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- Sporting Kansas City missed a chance to earn extra points at the New York Red Bulls' expense last month when star midfielder Kei Kamara committed a costly miscue.
To fully redeem itself, Kansas City will have to pull off a rare feat Wednesday night.
It will attempt to become the first team this season to get a road win over New York as well as avoid losing their Eastern Conference lead to the Red Bulls.
Sporting Kansas City (15-7-6) is 4-0-2 over its last six league games but fell short of a win during a visit from New York on Aug. 26. Kamara scored one of his team-best 10 goals in the fourth minute but accidentally headed the ball past his own goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen, 24 minutes later in an eventual 1-all tie.
Kansas City kept its unbeaten run going Friday as C.J. Sapong scored a stoppage-time goal in another 1-1 draw, this time against Houston.
The result kept Sporting KC one point ahead of Chicago in the East, and New York (14-7-7) is only two points behind.
"It's very exciting," Nielsen told the league's website. "Every morning, my alarm clock wakes me up. I'm checking my phone, I'm checking the standings. I'm checking who's playing who.
"We just can't wait to get out there. We've put ourselves in a very good position to play some very big games toward the end of the season."
The trip to New York is one of those big games for Kansas City as the Red Bulls could vault into first with a victory. Kansas City, meanwhile, has a chance to spoil its conference rival's lengthy unbeaten run at home.
New York is 10-0-3 at home this season and hasn't lost in 16 consecutive regular-season games there dating back to last September. Thierry Henry had two goals and an assist to rally his team to a 3-1 victory over Columbus on Saturday at Red Bull Arena.
"We kept at it and worked hard," Henry said. "That's what we have to do every game. We cannot afford to fall behind against Kansas City and expect to have the same result."
Despite the short turnaround, New York might send out the same starting 11 for Wednesday's game. Joel Lindpere is expected to be available despite an ailing left wrist.
"Everyone looks quite fresh, I must say," coach Hans Backe told the league's website. "I think it's definitely a possibility to play the same lineup."
New York, 3-0-2 over its last five overall, will seek its third straight home win in this series. Sporting KC has one win over its last 15 visits to New York, and earned that on Sept. 12, 2009.
Updated September 18, 2012