CHESTER, Pa. – Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth expects Sporting Kansas City to field their best team for Wednesday’s regular-season finale when the Union pay a visit to Livestrong Sporting Park (8:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
He will do the same.
“We are certainly not going to go into the night quietly,” Hackworth said. “We are going to push as hard as we can.”
These teams, of course, are in very different positions.
Sporting Kansas City (17-7-9) can clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a point on Wednesday, while the eighth-place Union have been officially out of playoff contention throughout the entire month of October.
But for Hackworth, it’s still been important to try to present a stiff challenge to playoff-bound teams, especially on the road. They dropped a 3-1 decision on Houston’s cramped field Saturday but will look to avenge that result with a victory in another difficult venue Wednesday.
“The stadium itself feels like it’s almost indoors,” Hackworth said of Livestrong Sporting Park. “The fans are right on top of you. It’s very imposing.”
With a simple goal of ending the season on a high note, Hackworth has mostly stuck with his regular rotation of players over the past month. But with starting fullbacks Sheanon Williams and Gabriel Farfan both listed as doubtful on the latest injury report – and there being no need to rush them back – the manager may be forced to get more creative with his lineup.
“I think you’ll probably see some young guys – at least in the 18 and perhaps on the field,” Hackworth said.
Still, the Union will certainly play the best players they have available and try to prevent Kansas City from clinching the top seed in the East.
“No matter who we put on the field, we want to win that game, especially coming off a performance that was subpar for us and a result that wasn’t acceptable to us,” Hackworth said. “So we’re going to go for it on Wednesday night.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.