LONDON (AP) – D.C. United is deciding who to use in goal due to Bill Hamid's injured hamstring.
Sporting Kansas City has no such problems due to the presence of Jimmy Nielsen, although he was hit in the head by a bobblehead doll his last time out.
The two clubs are separated by two points in the standings, and they'll meet for the first time this season Sunday night in Kansas City.
This contest figured to be a matchup of top goalkeepers. Hamid was recently named to the U.S. national team while Nielsen has been dubbed "The White Puma" for his quick reflexes that have helped establish him as one of the best goalies in MLS.
Hamid, though, is doubtful for Sunday after being replaced at halftime of a 1-all tie at Chicago on Thursday. D.C. (7-6-10) will likely use either Steve Cronin, who played the remainder of that match, or rookie Joe Willis.
"We definitely have some depth in (goal) and Steve and Joe are both capable of good performances," midfielder Clyde Simms told MLSsoccer.com.
Nielsen was hit below the left eye by a bobblehead doll during a 3-1 home victory over Portland on Wednesday. The Danish goalie was getting a drink beside the goal when he was hit, and said he had never had objects thrown at him in a home match.
"It happens," he said. "It's no big deal."
Two men have been charged in the throwing of the doll depicting Kansas City forward Omar Bravo.
Kansas City (8-9-7) and D.C. are among a tightly bunched top group of six teams in the Eastern Conference, all of which have at least 31 points. A victory by United would move them one point ahead of Kansas City.
"I don't want to say it will be the biggest game of the year because we still have some left, but so far we're looking at it as that," defender Matt Besler told Kansas City's official website. "It's a great opportunity for us. They're right on our heels. It's another game at our place so we've got to take care of business."
Substitute Josh Wolff scored the equalizer for D.C. on Thursday in the 73rd minute.
Wolff is returning to face his former team for the first time. He had stints with Kansas City from 2003-06 and 2008-10.
"They're certainly a team that's on the upswing," the forward said. "Obviously a tough opening the first few months being on the road as much as they were, but got back to a new facility, a new stadium, a lot of life. They've done what you expected once they got home."
Graham Zusi scored twice Wednesday for Kansas City, which has quickly shifted its focus to D.C.
"You can't emphasize enough how important this game is for us," Zusi said.