Hoppenot vs. KC
Greg Carroccio

Looking at the Union against Sporting Kansas City all-time ahead of Saturday's First Kick

Philadelphia didn't have a lot of history with Kansas City before last season.

A 2-0 loss in 2010 preceded a 1-1 home draw.

In 2011, the clubs played to 0-0 and 1-1 draws.

The results were mostly pedestrian.

But a 4-0 Union win in 2012 really sparked a great season series with the back-to-back conference champions.

The 4-0 result was Philadelphia’s second-best offensive output of 2012. However, Kansas City returned to PPL Park just three weeks after that blowout and earned a 2-0 shutout of their own. It was a scrappy, ugly win and it knocked Philadelphia out of the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

Late in the season, Kansas City clinched the eastern conference title with 2-1 home win against the Union, but not before Antoine Hoppenot's second-half goal prevented Jimmy Nielsen from tying the MLS single-season shutout record.

March 2nd's season opener will be the eighth all time meeting between Philadelphia and Kansas City. The Union have beaten Sporting just once and currently hold a 1-3-3 all-time record against Graham Zusi and company.

1. June 10, 2010 – Sporting KC 2, Philadelphia 0 (at Community America Ballpark)

Goals: Kamara 9', Zusi 35'

The Union were outmatched and outmanned at the old Community America Ballpark.

Kei Kamara scored from inside the box on the ninth minute, then Graham Zusi doubled the score in the 35th minute after a nifty through ball from Ryan Smith.

Michael Orozco-Fiscal was red-carded in the 42nd minute, when a rash tackle on Josh Wolff earned the Philadelphia center-back a second yellow card. The short-handed Union were unable to threaten the Kansas City backline.

2. Sept. 4, 2010 – Philadelphia 1, Sporting KC 1 (PPL Park)

Goals: Le Toux 33', Arnaud 71'

The Union scored their first goal and earned their first point against Kansas City in this matchup.

Sebastien Le Toux opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a slick first-time finish on Danny Mwanga's low cross from the left flank.

But the Union conceded a bad goal in the 71st minute, when Chris Seitz midjudged a Davy Arnaud freekick. Taking the setpiece from just inside the touchline, Arnaud's service seemed to fool the Union goalkeeper, who couldn't punch the ball clear.

3. June 22, 2011 – Philadelphia 0, Sporting KC 0 (PPL Park)

Goals: none

This was a poor result for the Union, who were coming off a 1-0 road loss against last place Vancouver.

Jimmy Nielsen made a number of important stops, included a first-half kick save on Jack McInerney. Carlos Ruiz headed off the post in the 72nd minute and the Union offense was held scoreless for the second straight game.

4. Sept. 23, 2011 – Philadelphia 1, Sporting KC 1 (at LIVESTRONG Park)

Goals: Bravo 56', Le Toux 63'

This was a great game, complete with playoff implications and late drama.

Going into this matchup, the Union needed to find points away from home. Four of the final six games in 2011 were played on the road.

Philadelphia's defense, playing for the first time at LIVESTRONG Park, was especially calm in the first half. Sporting chances were minimal, until Kamara brushed the crossbar with a header on the 40th minute.

But Kansas City broke through in the 56th minute, when Kamara crossed for Omar Bravo, who was able to get behind Union left back Gabriel Farfan. Bravo's first-time finish put the home side up 1-0.

It was a touch of magic from Michael Farfan that got Philadelphia back in the game. On the 63rd minute, Roger Torres scuffed a shot that looked to be going out of bounds. Seth Sinovic, the Sporting left back, misjudged the ball while attempting to let it roll past the touchline. Farfan was able to cut behind Sinovic, keep the ball in play, and lay off to Le Toux for the equalizer.

At the time, that point kept the Union in the Eastern Conference title race and prevented Kansas City from going 3 points ahead of second place Columbus.

5. June 23, 2012 – Philadelphia 4, Sporting KC 0 (PPL Park)

Goals: McInerney 1', McInerney 43', Pajoy 81', Hoppenot 87'

The offensive floodgates opened up in John Hackworth's second game in charge of the Union.

Jack McInerney scored within 57 seconds, finishing from one yard out after a great move from Lionard Pajoy to keep the ball in play in front of the Sporting goal.

Then McInerney, in just his second start of the season, finished his brace on the 43rd minute, converting a rebound after Carlos Valdes initially got a foot on Freddy Adu's well-taken free kick.

Pajoy got on the board in the 81st, converting a penalty kick after Hoppenot was brought down by MLS All-star Aurielen Collin inside the box.

Hoppenot then made it 4-0 in the 87th minute. Michael Farfan's lofted through ball sprung the striker, who hit an audacious chip over Nielsen's head.

It was Philadelphia's first-ever win against Kansas City, and the second best offensive performance of 2012.

6. July 11, 2012 – Sporting KC 2, Philadelphia 0 (U.S. Open Cup at PPL Park)

Goals: Peterson 65', Zusi 90+'

Sporting returned to PPL Park just 3 weeks later for the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

Fresh off the 4-0 loss, a reinvigorated Kansas City side played a much more physical and disruptive game, outshooting the Union 5-to-1 in the first half.

Roger Espinoza was particularly effective in shutting down attacks and pestering the Union midfield.

Kansas City got the game winner on the 65th minute, when Jacob Peterson knocked a looping header on goal from a Zusi freekick. Zac MacMath looked to have the shot covered, but the ball snuck past the Union goalkeeper on the near post.

Zusi added an empty net goal in stoppage time, and the Union's solid run in the Open Cup came to an end at PPL Park.

7. Oct. 24, 2012 – Sporting KC 2, Philadelphia 1 (at LIVESTRONG Park)

Goals: Peterson 40', Hoppenot 53', Sapong 83'

Sporting Kansas City clinched the Eastern Conference crown with a 2-1 win in their 2012 season finale.

Peterson scored a beautiful goal to open the scoring in the 40th minute. Sporting took a Union turnover and used just four touches to get the ball wide. Kamara's cross was slammed home on the fifth touch, a first-time sliding effort from Peterson.

Philadelphia equalized on a penalty kick put-back from Antoine Hoppenot. Michael Farfan's penalty was initially saved by Nielsen, but Hoppenot got to the rebound first to get the Union on the board. That goal kept Nielsen from earning the shutout that would have tied Tony Meola's league record.

Ironically enough, it was also the first missed penalty kick in Union history.

It looked like the Union would snag a point from this match, but C.J. Sapong's 83rd minute goal earned a win for the home side.

Homegrown player Jimmy McLaughlin made his MLS debut in this game, coming on for Danny Cruz in the 73rd minute.

Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com

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