Sounders-Sporting Kansas City Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- After recording yet another clean sheet over the weekend, Sporting Kansas City's Jimmy Nielsen surpassed Tony Meola for the most in club history.
Nielsen, though, has never defeated the Seattle Sounders.
Nielsen and Sporting KC try to snap a six-game winless stretch against the visiting Sounders when these clubs square off Wednesday night.
Fourth in the league with 0.80 goals allowed per game, Nielsen didn't have to make any saves in posting his franchise-record 38th shutout Sunday in a 4-0 rout of Chivas USA. Forward Claudio Bieler notched his MLS best-tying fifth and sixth goals while midfielder Graham Zusi scored and added an assist.
"They made it very easy," the 35-year-old Nielsen said of his teammates. "If they continue like that, I can play until I'm 44."
Nielsen, who had recorded five consecutive shutouts before allowing a combined five goals over the previous two games, leads the league with six clean sheets - two more than Dallas' Raul Fernandez.
"Jimmy will tell you that he doesn't care about (records) at the end of the day," coach Peter Vermes told the club's official website. "What he wants is another championship with the team and wants the MLS Cup. That's what the rest of us are striving for. If he keeps getting those, he will help put us in the right position where hopefully we can win."
Kansas City (5-3-2) improved to 8-1-3 at home dating to August, but it's had its hands full with Seattle (1-3-3) over the years. Since taking the first matchup 1-0 on April 11, 2009, Sporting KC has been outscored 10-5 during an 0-5-1 stretch in the series.
Nielsen has started the last five of those contests, going 0-4-1 while allowing seven goals and making eight saves. He would, however, appear to have a favorable matchup this time around against a Sounders team averaging 0.71 goals - 17th in MLS.
Seattle opened a three-game road stretch with a 1-0 win over Colorado on April 20, then played to a 2-all draw with Philadelphia on Saturday. After setting up Eddie Johnson for the game's first goal, Mauro Rosales tied the score in the 64th minute.
"It's something we wanted, that combination," Rosales told the Sounders' official website. "We're getting confidence with each other. We expect more games like that."
Johnson, who scored a team-record 15 goals last season, now has two in four contests. Rosales also set a club mark with 13 assists in 2012 but entered the weekend having posted just one.
"It's good to see Mauro back out there playing the way we know he is capable of playing," said Johnson, who missed the previous two games due to a hamstring injury. "We formed a chemistry in the last two years. When he gets the ball out wide, he's looking to put it in the air where I can attack the ball."
Rosales has a goal and two assists in three career matchups versus Sporting KC.
Seattle is 4-7-9 over its last 20 road matches dating to last May. The Sounders are 3-0-0 all-time at Kansas City but haven't visited since 2011.
Updated May 7, 2013