Skip to content

MLS Preview: Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union

Sep 26, 2013, 7:30 PM EDT

C.J. Sapong; Mark Bloom AP

• Sporting Kansas City is three points behind the New York Red Bulls at the top of the East. The Philadelphia Union, meanwhile, has dropped out of playoff positioning but sits just six points underneath the third-placed Montreal Impact.

• Kansas City has won three of its last five matches, while Philadelphia has lost three of its last five and is winless in that time period.

• The Union has not scored a goal in a club record 310 minutes, and forward Jack McInerney has not scored since putting away his team-leading 10th of the season on June 1 against Toronto FC.

Although no teams in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference are safely in the playoffs yet, Sporting Kansas City has one of the most comfortable cushions, sitting nine points above sixth place. When it takes on the Philadelphia Union on Friday (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Kansas City will face a team on the opposite end of the spectrum, desperate for points.

Philadelphia climbed as high as second place on several occasions in 2013, but it currently finds itself in seventh out of the 10-team conference, outside the playoffs. Losing three of its last five and only scoring one goal, four games ago, in that time has seen the Union plummet from third place before that streak to its current position.

Talismanic striker Jack McInerney, who still holds the team lead in goals and the league lead in game-winning goals, has not scored in nearly three months. Strike partner Conor Casey has not scored in six games.

On the other end of the field, Kansas City seems to be clicking at the right time. It has three wins in its last three and four in its last six, despite losing Kei Kamara to Middlesbrough of the English Championship. The team has scored 10 goals in the last six games, coming from six different players.

C.J. Sapong (pictured) has taken up the torch with Kamara’s departure, scoring three goals in the last two games. He scored twice in a 2-1 win over Toronto FC in his team’s last game.

Including two games against Philadelphia, Sporting only takes on one team currently in a playoff position between now and the end of the season. With one game in hand on the first-placed New York Red Bulls, who have a tough test at Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday, the top seed is still within Kansas City’s grasp.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, would likely be happy to play an extra one-off game, if it means the Union qualified for the playoffs.

What they’re saying

Union head coach John Hackworth on the team’s 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo last week: “It has been a really bad stretch for us, and this night is going to be a really difficult to accept. There is no question that effort of the group was fantastic, and their competitiveness showed right from the get-go. They put a lot into this game, and it is unfortunate that we are sitting here, talking about this result, but that’s sports, and as I said, it’s cruel sometimes.”

Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes on C.J. Sapong’s recent tear: “He’s physically dominating in the game, and that’s what we need from him because he is that player. And now he’s doing it in training. If he keeps on that, it’s going to make things very strong for us moving forward.”

Philadelphia captain Brian Carroll on what it takes to make the playoffs: “What I remember from the teams I was a part of that managed success is that we believed in ourselves; we didn’t get swept up in outside talk. We can’t afford to do that now. … I feel like a group that we have here can pull that together, can do that in the last five games of the season.”

Prediction

Brian Carroll might believe in his team’s ability to turn things around, but this will be a tough time to do so. Kansas City has been rolling, and Sporting Park is a difficult place to get a result even when the home team plays poorly. It’s hard to see Philadelphia getting any points out of this game.

Latest Posts
  1. MUST SEE: Wesley Sneijder scores two wonder goals

    Oct 19, 2014, 11:38 PM EDT

    Galatasaray AS v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    The Dutch midfielder scored off two ridiculous strikes to lead Galatasary over rivals Fenerbahce.

  2. MLS Sunday roundup: Seattle spoils Donovan’s last home game

    Oct 19, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT

    San Jose Earthquakes v Los Angeles Galaxy Getty Images

    The Sounders came from 2-0 down to steal a draw in Los Angeles at Landon Donovan’s final regular season home game.

  3. Bayern Munich bag six without allowing a single shot

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen v SV Werder Bremen - Bundesliga Getty Images

    Werder Bremen became the first team without a shot in a Bundesliga game as Bayern continues to cruise.

  4. Where does Sergio Aguero rank with the world’s best?

    Oct 19, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    The Argentinian forward is scoring goals at a blistering pace for Manchester City. Could he be the most lethal striker in Europe?

  5. La Liga and Serie A roundup: Ronaldo, Messi continue to dominate

    Oct 19, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    Levante UD v Real Madrid CF - La Liga Getty Images

    Catch up on all of this weekend’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights.

  6. Sunderland goalkeeper wants to reimburse fans

    Oct 19, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT

    Southampton v Sunderland - Premier League Getty Images

    After an ugly 8-0 thrashing at Southampton, Vito Mannone said he will try to pay back fans who travelled to the game.

  7. Michael Bradley to Jurgen Klinsmann: ‘I have thick skin’

    Oct 19, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    The American international responded to Jurgen Klinsmann’s recent criticism of his return to the MLS.

  8. Malky Mackay likely to go unpunished over texting scandal

    Oct 19, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Cardiff City - Premier League Getty Images

    The private nature of Mackay’s texts may help him steer clear of FA charges.

  9. Gareth Bale could miss Champions League clash vs. Liverpool

    Oct 19, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Wales v Cyprus - EURO 2016 Qualifier Getty Images

    Bale did not play in Real Madrid’s match against Levante while nursing a muscle injury.

  10. WATCH: Argentinian 3rd division game abandoned after brawl, 12 red cards

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 2.50.49 PM

    12 players sent off, an ambulance called, and riot police on the field. That was the carnage from an ugly brawl in Argentinian soccer.

  11. WATCH: Garry Monk claims Stoke penalty was “absolutely disgusting”

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:56 PM EDT

    Monk Getty Images

    The Swansea manager was furious following a soft penalty given for a foul on Victor Moses, suggesting his club has been hard done by referees plenty this season.

  12. Carlo Ancelotti delcares Raheem Sterling is “not in” Real Madrid’s plans

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT

    Ancelotti Getty Images

    Raheem Sterling faced criticism from the British media for his fitness, but he was also rumored to be wanted by Real Madrid. Ancelotti says don’t believe the rumors.

  13. Redknapp condemns “overweight” Adel Taarabt in presser rant

    Oct 19, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Redknapp Getty Images

    The QPR manager loved what he saw on the field at Loftus Road despite the loss. Off the field is a different story.

  14. Stoke 2-1 Swansea: Substitutes pick up three points for the Potters

    Oct 19, 2014, 12:53 PM EDT

    StokeCity Getty Images

    Jonathan Walters scored the winner off the bench as Stoke City grabbed a much-needed three points.

  15. VIDEO: Redknapp says QPR performance in 3-2 loss best he’s ever seen

    Oct 19, 2014, 12:26 PM EDT

    Redknapp AP

    Harry Redknapp was left flabbergasted after his side performed well but fell 3-2 after a bonkers last five minutes at Loftus Road.

  16. Liverpool must improve, and they know it, despite late win at QPR

    Oct 19, 2014, 11:52 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Rodgers, Gerrard know the Reds were fortunate to leave West London with all three points. But they’ll take it.

  17. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Swansea City (Lineups)

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:58 AM EDT

    Britannia Getty Images

    Two teams who have dipped in form look to get back on track at the Britannia.

  18. VIDEO: QPR 2-3 Liverpool: Pair of own goals dooms QPR after insane final six minutes

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:32 AM EDT

    Richard Dunne's own goal early in the second half was a harbinger of what would come. Getty Images

    Liverpool struggled through the first hour, but somehow earned the win in an absolutely wild finish.

  19. Three things we learned from Liverpool’s pulsating win over QPR

    Oct 19, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-QPR-LIVERPOOL FBL-ENG-PR-QPR-LIVERPOOL

    QPR’s wasteful finishing, Balotelli’s struggles and much more from a superb encounter at Loftus Road.

  20. Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga woes have Klopp, Zorc seething

    Oct 19, 2014, 9:41 AM EDT

    Klopp Getty Images

    Borussia Dortmund have lost five of their opening eight matches, putting them in 14th.

Featured video

Week 8: Saturday PL recap