Philadelphia Union vs. Kansas City Wizards
Kansas City beat Philadelphia 2-0 in the only other meeting between the two clubs.
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The Philadelphia Union welcome the Kansas City Wizards in the second meeting of the season. With the standings in the Eastern Conference so tight the match has huge playoff implications, as if the Union were to win they’d continue to crawl up the table while a KC victory could put them into a playoff position.
Back in June, Philadelphia visited Kansas City and were thoroughly outplayed by the Wizards en route to a 2-0 loss. The match frustrated Peter Nowak's team as they weren't able to play their usual creative passing style, but despite the win the Wizards didn't gather any momentum: They went on a three-game losing streak immediately afterward.
The Union are fresh off an impressive 1-0 victory over Chivas de Guadalajara in an international friendly on Wednesday. Combining for the goal for a second consecutive week were Justin Mapp and Jack McInerney.
But it is rookie Danny Mwanga who will be key for the Union, as both Alejandro Moreno and Sebastien Le Toux are listed as questionable with knocks. A win for the Union could actually lift them into the playoff conversation again.
“We definitely are looking to win," Mwanga said this week. "We did a pretty good job against New England and tonight and we’re going to look to continue that. If we can keep doing what we’re doing we think we can get a good result this Saturday against Kansas City.”
Coming into the match hot, the Wizards are fresh off a huge 2-0 victory over the Western Conference leading Los Angeles Galaxy. They have lost only once in their last eight matches.
The return to form coincided with the return to action of holding midfielder Stephane Auvray, who missed a month through injury, and the recent staunch performances of keeper Jimmy Nielsen, who has lowered his goals against average to 1.1 on the season. He won his fifth NAPA Save of the Week this week.
Another important factor of late is the emergence of rookie Teal Bunbury, who has two goals on the season and has been receiving more playing time of late. This week he turned down a call-up from the Canadian national team -- he is still undecided on whether to play for Canada or the US -- keeping him available for the trip to Philadelphia.
"I’ve improved since day one," Bunbury said this week. "All aspects of my game: mentality, for sure, my strength, using my body better, my touches and my finishing. Even though I only have two goals, I feel like that’s improved."
Heroes & Villains
Jimmy Conrad vs. Jack McInerney — The grizzled comic of MLS has always taken his defending seriously, but can he handle the rapidly improving teenager that Jack Mac is? The Union striker may not start, but he will be a factor and his running off the ball could cause problems for the slowing Conrad.
Stat That Makes You Go “Hm...”
The Union have yet to record a shutout this season. Previously, the lowest number for any team during the course of a season was two. It’ll be up to Seitz, who will most likely start the match, to keep KC off the board.