Philadelphia Union (1-5-5, eight points) at Sporting Kansas City (5-2-2, 17 points)
When: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m., Where: Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kansas
TV: Comcast SportsNet featuring play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas
Game notes (PDF): Click here
The Union has been in this same exact position before.
Same team, eerily similar scenario…
End result? Three points.
Last season, with a five match unbeaten streak in tow, the Union traveled to Kansas City to take on a Sporting squad that would go on to become MLS champions. The Union beat Sporting at Sporting Park, 1-0 behind a goal from Conor Casey in the 36th minute. That goal stood and kick started (no pun intended) a three-match unbeaten streak.
All it takes is a spark and for a talented Union corps looking to get out of a goal scoring funk that has lasted for a large part of the season, a positive result in this match could be it.
“I think we have to keep our heads up, maybe sometimes it just takes going back to the basics and grinding out results,” Union midfielder Maurice Edu said. On Monday, Edu was one of 16 MLS players that were added to U.S. Soccer’s preliminary 30-man roster for the FIFA World Cup in June. “We are a team that likes to play but sometimes the best teams do not win the prettiest ways…sometimes is just a fluke goal or a set play and you just grind the rest of the game and maybe that is what we need right now. I think as a group we need to keep our heads up, work harder and stay positive.”
Sporting Kansas City doesn’t plan to make this match easy, this is an SKC side that hasn’t slowed from its 2013 championship season, boasting an unblemished record at home (3-0-2) and with a goalkeeper in Eric Kronberg, who currently leads the league with five shutouts. Offensively, Dom Dwyer has been electric coming off his second two-goal performance of the season in SKC’s 3-0 win against Montreal on Saturday.
Sporting will be without a number of key names, specifically forward C.J. Sapong, listed as questionable with a neck strain. Forward Peterson Joseph is also a scratch due to an undisclosed illness.
However, this Union collective feels much of the onus is on itself to snap out of a frustrating early campaign, compile some positive results and get back on track.
As the Union technical staff continue is search for an attack minded player to come in and complete the slew of chances created by a talented midfield corps, right now it’s a nose to the grindstone mentality, remaining focused and (most importantly) looking to do one very important thing…
“I don’t think anyone is putting too much pressure on each other,” said Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath regarding locker room ethos. “We always tell each other to relax and have fun out there and compete; and for the most part we did that. “We are going to get a quick turnaround here… and we will start focusing on getting three points in [Kansas City].”
What’s the best game plan against Kansas City? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org