Comcast SportsNet / MLS Live
The Philadelphia Union travel to Kansas City for a midweek match against MLS CUP Champions Sporting Kansas City. The Union are spiraling out of control and Sporting have the cruise control set.
The two teams could not be further apart as of this week. The Union's last win was at home and 10 matches ago, and Kansas City have scored 5 goals in the last two matches. The Union has its first full USMNT call up in Maurice Edu, a player that they traded defensive stalwart Jeff Parke to DC United in order to be able to sign, which ultimately was revealed to be a loan deal. Sporting have two players in Graham Zuzi and Matt Besler, called up to Jurgen Klinsman's 30 man roster, both long term squad players.
Dom Dwyer has been a player possessed recently, and has been the poster child for the MLS - USL PRO partnership. Dwyer spent last season on loan to SKC affiliate Orlando City Soccer Club eventually earning a call back to Kansas City but controversially returning to OCSC for the final to help them win the USL PRO championship.
The Union are a team in disarray at the moment. The 2014 season has gone pear shaped after what seemed like a promising start due in part to upgrades to the midfield. The fan base is starting to blame the technical staff, and the chances of a coaching change seem more likely with every poor result.
Sheanon Williams, who was not listed as injured before the match, did not make the Starting XI against DC United and Brian Carroll was substituted at the half with what was reported as a groin injury. The Aaron Wheeler experiment came to an end last week with Austin Berry returning to play next to Amobi Okugo in the center of the defense, to mixed reviews. It's hard to see Fabinho getting the nod at left back to play against Zusi. So a back line of Williams - Okugo - Berry - Gaddis seems like a safe bet on defense.
The midfield undoubtedly has talent but zero cohesion so far this season. It wouldn't be a shock to see Edu as more of a defensive midfielder with Nogueira, Cruz, and Maidana in front. If past practice is any indicator, one could easily see Hackworth going with a 4-5-1, which would mean that either LeToux or Fernandes would also get the start.
Projected Starting XI
Williams - Okugo - Berry - Gaddis
Cruz - Nougeira - Fernandes - Maidana
This match is a formality for SKC, a win or draw suit them just fine and I would expect to see some key players rested. Zusi and Besler should start as this will be their last match before they leave to join the USMNT.
The Union are in a much different situation. This is an unwelcome match against a top notch side exactly when the misfiring Zolos are least equipped to deal with it. It's reasonable to say that at this point John Hackworth's job is tenuous at best, but this match will not be the last one in his coffin with a home match against New England just three days later and just five matches until the World Cup break.
It's very difficult to see any outcome that does not involve three points going to SKC. The Union just have not been able to get it done in the final third of the field and the players seem to have decided to mentally start the World Cup break several weeks ago.
2-0 to SKC
and full on panic mode amongst Union fans