About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
The reigning champions are not showing a post-title hangover as they continue to rack up points against the rest of the league. They've won their past two matches with a combined score of 5-0 and have earned a result in six out of their last seven matches. This will be the last match before Graham Zusi and Matt Besler report to USMNT camp, so expect Vermes to try and get as much out of them as possible. Outside of Sal Zizzo, who is still nursing a groin injury, Sporting KC should have a full lineup for this match.
Philadelphia has had some struggles in their 2014 campaign, a lot of which is due to their lackluster offense. They have not score a goal in the run of play in their last 450 minutes and they've been shutout in three out of their last five matches. They haven't had a win since March 15th because they have been experimenting with their offense, including trading Jack McInerny for Andrew Wenger. Expect them to try and hold the midfield and to try and control possession to prevent their defense from being exposed.
Who to Watch
Sporting Kansas City- Graham Zusi
We're going to see one of two playing styles from Graham Zusi. We'll either see someone who is trying not to get hurt before the World Cup or we'll see someone who is going to cut through the Union midfield and to get in a good last game before Brazil. I expect we'll see the latter as Sporting KC is going to try and disrupt the Union's possession holding strategy and Graham Zusi will be the precipice of this attack. If the Union are going to try and sit back and hold possession, look for Zusi to have a field day disrupting this strategy.
Philadelphia Union- Zac MacMath
No matter how leaky a defense or how lethargic an offense, a good performance from a goalkeeper can single-handedly keep a team in the game (aka The Dan Kennedy strategy). MacMath is one of the better keepers in the league and can stop shots if given the chance. Sporting Kansas City is going to put the pressure on and is going to try to expose the Union defense, so MacMath is going to have to step up and be a brick wall in order to keep the Union in this.
Why They'll Win
Sporting Kansas City
The Union's best strategy this year has been holding the midfield and controlling possession. Sporting Kansas City is also proficient at this strategy and has the personnel to make this a very fun game for the home crowd. The Union transitioned to a 4-3-3 this offseason, so they'll be going up against Sporting Kansas City head-to-head formation wise and Sporting KC has the better personnel in the midfield. They'll be able to push the game forward and to create plenty of chances.
Although the Union defense may be leaky, they've been able to hold other offenses to low scoring games. They can hold it together if needed, especially if MacMath has a good game. When Sporting Kansas City puts the pressure on and can't get goals, they start to get frustrated and start to take bad shots. Although the Union haven't been as good on the counter this season, they can still pull one out if Sporting KC isn't careful and is getting shut out on the offensive end.
Sporting Kansas City: Kronberg - Sinovic, Besler, Collin, Myers - Rosell, Nagamura, Feilhaber - Zusi, Dwyer, Peterson.
Philadelphia Union (From Justin F): MacMath; Fabinho, Amobi Okugo, Austin Berry, Sheanon Williams; Brian Carroll, Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira; Cristian Maidana, Andrew Wenger, Sebastien Le Toux.
Sporting Kansas City 2-0 Philadelphia Union
Sporting Kansas City should be able to hold the midfield and push through the Union defense while swatting away other Union opportunities because of their lackluster offense.