With the U.S. Open Cup final on Wednesday in Houston, Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin decided to rotate his squad for the Union's match against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. One of the players who got a rare start came through for the home side.
Jay Simpson, who made his first start of the season as Cory Burke got a rest, scored in the 71st minute to give the Union a lead that they would go on to hold. The Englishman hit a one-time volley off of a Alejandro Bedoya header that finally broke a scoreless deadlock. Simpson added an insurance goal in the 89th minute, when the Sporting KC backline was left flat-footed by a Fafa Picault ball over the top. Wide open in front of net, Bedoya played a cushioned header to Simpson, who finished the open look.
There were plenty of big chances for both teams at a wet Talen Energy Stadium, with both SKC 'keeper Tim Melia and the Union's John McCarthy coming up big on multiple occasions. Seth Sinovic also cleared a ball off the line in the first half, denying Simpson a first half goal.
The Union rested Andre Blake – who suffered an injury earlier in the day – CJ Sapong, Haris Medunjanin, Keegan Rosenberry, Raymon Gaddis and Jack Elliott in addition to Burke as they prepare for Wednesday's final in Houston. Bedoya and Picault both started the match on the bench before coming on in the second half.
- 71' — PHI — Jay Simpson | WATCH
- 89' — PHI — Jay Simpson
- THE BIG PICTURE: When the lineups came out, a Union loss seemed likely. But they will be carry to this win into Houston while positioning themselves for a crucial match against Columbus Crew SC next week, as both teams fight for a home game in the Knockout Round. The loss is a bit rough for SKC, who failed to separate themselves from the pack in the West.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Simpson has been one of the most-maligned signings in MLS since joining the Union before the 2017 season. He's scored just once but came through when his team needed him on Sunday.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Simpson's two goals were pretty simple, so this award goes to Union center back Auston Trusty, who made big plays in huge spots to keep SKC off the scoreboard.