Match Preview Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union will be squaring off at Sporting Park in front of a nationally televised crowd on NBCSN Friday, September 27th at 8:00 PM. Both teams go into the game knowing it's a must win. Sporting looks to catch up to the New York Red Bulls for 1st in the Eastern Conference and Philadelphia looks to get back into an MLS playoff spot.
Keys To The Match Sporting KC's midfield needs to step up if they want to beat the Union. The Benny Feilhaber experiment, while it shows signs of brilliance, is really testing the patience of fans and isn't complementing the team like Graham Zusi has done as an attacking midfielder. It has only been very recently that Feilhaber has been fit to play a full 90 minutes and even though Sporting plays high tempo, there should be no excuse that a midfielder in his prime age of 28 can't be fit to play a full game when asked until 2/3 of the way into the season. Quite honestly, Zusi can do it better, is younger and is still getting paid less than Feilhaber. Sporting's last game against Toronto had a starting midfield of Lawrence Olum, Zusi and Feilhaber. Paulo Nagamura still has an ankle strain so he's most likely out resulting in Feilhaber and Zusi likely starting as attacking midfielders. Oriol Rosell will likely take the defensive midfielder role and has proven to be a very reliable form of defense as his precise passing sets up the attackers. Just like a defensive midfielder, when you don't notice him out there, he's usually doing a good job.
Danger Man I didn't think I would be saying this because I know I've criticized his play multiple times as almost everyone else has but Zac MacMath has recently been better and will be the rock for the Union going into the game and the rest of the season. He still shows signs of inconsistency but he's tied for the lead in clean sheets with 10 and has averaged allowing exactly 1 goal per game in his last 16 games going back to the beginning of June. Compare that to his first 13 games where he allowed 1.77 goals per game and you can see that the kid has improved in these last few months. This is welcome news to Philly fans that MacMath is getting better as they're heading into the stretch run and into the playoffs. His bouts of inconsistency may cost them in the playoff run but he is getting better and better through each game and if fans are willing to be patient with him, MacMath can be a future All-Star goalkeeper for the Union. I know, it's crazy but it's possible.
Prediction In a prediction that's sure to be wrong, I'm going to go with a 1-1 draw. It's going to be a physical, hard fought game and both teams are going to cancel each other out. Something that may be a factor is that three of Sporting's defensive players are a yellow card away from getting a suspension (Rosell, Seth Sinovic and Aurelien Collin). Look for Philly to go through the middle and test Collin and Rosell to see if they stick to their physical selves and risk the suspension. I'm hoping for a great game which goes together with the great atmosphere at Sporting Park, enjoy the game.