About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
After an interesting win in Toronto last week, Sporting Kansas City returns home to face the Philadelphia Union looking to extend their three-game winning streak. The home side will feature the returns of Claudio Bieler and Uri Rosell to the lineup after missing the last match in Toronto. Paulo Nagamura will miss the match with a sore ankle, which means that Peterson Joseph will most likely make an appearance in the lineup. Out of all the Supporters Shield contenders, Sporting KC has the easiest schedule and need to pick up points whenever possible. This match is perfect for picking up points as long as they play well.
If the season ended today, the Union would miss the playoffs by one point. Every game from here on out is a "must-win" for the Union to keep their playoff chances strong and alive. They haven't done well as of late, losing their past two matches and are winless in their last five. There's still time for the Union to make a push but they need to start picking up points. McInerney and Casey are a dangerous force up top and can cause some damage if the Sporting defense isn't on top of them.
Players to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Claudio Bieler
After missing last week with a slight groin strain, Bieler is expected to be back in the 18 and may even start against the Union. I said last week that the chances for Bieler to score are going to be more frequent now that Kei Kamara isn't on the wing. If the lineup goes like I think it will, Graham Zusi will be there on the wing providing service into the box which is the best case scenario for someone with the skill set of Bieler. He's going to score goals and he may have a breakout game against the Union tonight.
Philadelphia Union- Sebastian Le Toux
Sebastian Le Toux got one goal in the opener between these two clubs and was less than a yard away from getting a second. Le Toux has the ability to score, but its his assists that make him so valuable to the Union. He leads the club with 12 assists and is always a danger to get the ball up to McInerney and Casey. Sporting has had troubles defending counters this year and Le Toux is very good at starting counterattacks and making the defense retreat. If the midfield doesn't keep Le Toux stifled, he may be a dangerous force in this match.
How they will Win
Sporting Kansas City
While Sebastian Le Toux can be very dangerous in the midfield, the rest of the midfield leaves a little something to be desired. Mainly, the Union is missing a #10 and their offensive funk that has kept them scoreless the past three matches can be attributed to that. If Sporting can stifle Le Toux in the midfield, a tough task with Nagamura out, and keep the ball away from McInerney and Casey then they will be able to effectively shut down the Union's offense. After that, keep the pressure up and force a goal. Three points await.
Sporting KC has had troubles against counters. Philadelphia scores a lot on counters. It's simple math here. The Union just need to welcome Sporting's pressure and try and force a mistake. They need to force a counter and get a quick goal before the Sporting defense can catch back up with the Union. They have the personel to do it with Casey and McInerney, not to mention Le Toux starting all of the chances. This team needs points and will be trying as hard as possible to get them. A quick goal on a counter and suddenly the Union will be sitting pretty in this match.
Sporting KC: Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Rosell, Joseph, Feilhaber, Saad, Bieler, Zusi
Philadelphia: Zac MacMath; Raymon Gaddis, Jeff Parke, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams; Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Cruz; Conor Casey, Jack McInerney.
Sporting Kansas City 2-0 Philadelphia Union