Preview: Sporting Kansas City visit Philly in midweek clash
The Philadelphia Union face a quick turnaround and cross-country trip when they return to PPL Park to take on Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday evening. The Union saw their unbeaten streak come to an end at the weekend in a 1-0 loss at Vancouver. Sporting face a shorter trip to Philadelphia after coming off their first win ever at their new stadium, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes last Friday.
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REFEREE: Terry Vaughn. SAR (bench): Greg Barkey; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 147 games; FC/gm: 28.5; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 47; pens: 49
PHILADELPHIA UNION – DOUBTFUL: MF Amobi Okugo (L ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Gabriel Farfan (R quad strain)
SPORTING KANSAS CITY – OUT: FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); MF Craig Rocastle (R knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Graham Zusi (L ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: KC: Aurelien Collin (caution accumulation; through June 22)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS:
PHI: Danny Califf, Brian Carroll, Jordan Harvey, Danny Mwanga, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams
KC: Omar Bravo
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Union 0 wins, 1 goal … Sporting 1 win, 3 goals … Ties 1
AT PPL PARK (1 meeting): Union 0 wins, 1 goal … Sporting 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 1
RETURN MATCH: 9/23: Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. CT
6/10: KC 2, PHI 0 (Kamara 9; Zusi 35)
9/4: PHI 1, KC 1 (Le Toux 33 – Arnaud 71)
Kansas City won their home meeting last season at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, before the teams played to a draw at PPL Park.
Coaches record: Peter Vermes v PHI: P2 W0 L1 D1 … Peter Nowak vs. KC: P12 W6 L3 D3
Philadelphia Union saw their four-game unbeaten streak come to an end, falling 1-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at Empire Field. Union have 22 points from 14 matches on the year, now in second place in the Eastern Conference.
- The game's lone goal came when Davide Chiumiento dribbled through the Union defense, playing a give-and-go with Eric Hassli, then feeding an onrushing Rochat on the left. Rochat then unleashed a wicked curling strike from outside the box that Philadelphia 'keeper Faryd Mondragón had no chance of stopping.
- Union manager Peter Nowak made three changes to the team that played to a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake at PPL Park. Stefani Miglioranzi, Justin Mapp and Veljko Paunovic came into the team for Michael Farfan, Keon Daniel and Danny Mwanga.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-1-1): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey (Roger Torres 82) - Kyle Nakazawa, Stefani Miglioranzi (Danny Mwanga 46), Brian Carroll, Justin Mapp - Veljko Paunovic (Michael Farfan 59) - Sebastien Le Toux.
- Union have continued their stout defensive play – with just a single goal allowed in each of the last three games – yet they’ve come away with just two of a possible nine points in that stretch.
- "We’re like a charity right now, giving life and points to other teams," Union manager Peter Nowak said.
- Veljko Paunovic was given his first start for Union, partnering Sebastien Le Toux from the start, then Danny Mwanga in the second half when he came on as a substitute and Le Toux moved back to the midfield.
- "Maybe he was a little too far from Seba [Le Toux], but he did a good job to get the ball in good spots and spread it out," Nowak said. "I think that for the 60 minutes we prescribed for him in this game, he did pretty well."
- Paunovic was deployed as an underneath striker in his first professional match since 2008.
- "Is it behind the striker? Is it as a third striker? Or just as a pure striker?" Nowak said. "We've got to figure this out, and we've got the time right now - the games are coming fast, but during the week you always have some time to figure out the best combinations."
- Le Toux, who had three assists in the previous four games leading into the Vancouver match, still has yet to open his goalscoring account in 2011. He led Union with 14 goals last season.
- “Everybody is trying to help and stay positive,” Nowak said of Le Toux. “It’s very easy to drop your hat down and say, ‘You’re not scoring goals and we have to make a change.’ At some point we have to consider that, but as I said, we always try to stay positive and make sure that the players we’ve got have a fair shot at the positions they play. But the chances he had, especially at that point in the game, he had to finish.”
- Stefani Miglioranzi returned to the starting lineup, his first start since April 9 and his first appearance since coming on as a late substitute on June 4. He and Brian Carroll filled a deep-lying central axis in midfield.
- Philadelphia is one of five teams in MLS that has not lost back-to-back games this season, along with LA, New York, Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC.
- “I think everyone worked hard and put a lot of effort into the game and it’s unfortunate to come out of here with nothing,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to turn around quickly and get ready for the next game.”
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City won for the first time in their new home and for a second game on the trot, a 1-0 win Friday against the San Jose Earthquakes at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sporting have 13 points from 13 matches on the season, sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
- The game-winning goal and first goal in KC's new home came in the 31st minute following a foul on Davy Arnaud on the right flank. Graham Zusi curled in the service to the front post, where C.J. Sapong fought off a challenge and managed to extend his left foot to apply the finish past San Jose ‘keeper Jon Busch.
- SKC manager Peter Vermes made two changes to the team that rolled to a 4-1 victory over FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park. Jimmy Nielsen came in for Eric Kronberg in goal, and Omar Bravo replaced the suspended Milos Stojcev.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-4-1-1): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic - Graham Zusi (Kei Kamara 63), Davy Arnaud, Omar Bravo (Teal Bunbury 86), Birahim Diop - Luke Sassano (Julio Cesar 61) - CJ Sapong
- Sporting have now won back-to-back games for the first time this season, and are unbeaten in six games in all competitions.
- “What I would say to you is that this group has never lost the belief that they could play. They know they're a good team and now it is about grinding out results,” KC manager Peter Vermes said. “In this league, it is never easy. Anybody can beat anybody.”
- CJ Sapong will have the honor of scoring the first goal in Livestrong Sporting Park history, after 120 minutes of play in the new stadium. For Sapong, it was his first goal since scoring in his professional debut on First Kick, the 3-2 win at Chivas USA to start the season March 19.
- “The confidence has always been there. We’ve always known, this is just reassurance. It’s different when you have fans calling your name, and when you know you can put results on the board, it makes everything so much easier,” said Sapong.
- Sporting also kept a clean sheet for the third time in four games, and have allowed just three goals in the last six after conceding 17 in the first six.
- “Five minutes into the game, I looked over my shoulder and (Aurelien Collin) and Steven Lenhart were fighting each other,” said defender Matt Besler. “It looked like a wrestling match. I knew, once I saw that, that he was maybe in his head a little bit.”
- Graham Zusi continued his rich vein of form, following up his hat trick and assist performance in the win vs. FC Dallas with the assist on the game’s only goal against San Jose.
- “Zusi has stepped up his game. It wasn't that he didn't have it in him, but I think he is now starting to feel his form. He has qualities, I've said this all along, on both sides of the ball. … He's dangerous. I think teams are now starting to see what we've seen all along. We've just been looking for it on a consistent basis and now we're starting to see that,” Vermes said.
- Zusi has started the last five games in a row, and seven of the last eight, after not featuring in the first XI in the opening five games of the season.
- “I’ve kind of found myself in a role where I’m getting some more starts. That always builds some confidence as it is,” Zusi said. “Every game we seem to be getting better and I think the whole team is playing with more confidence now. We need to continue that and we’ll get the results.”