The Philadelphia Union and Sporting Kansas City will both be looking for their first points of the season when they meet at Children’s Mercy Park tomorrow afternoon. SKC fell to LAFC in the late stages of their season opener last weekend, then lost to the revelatory Panamanian side CAI in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday.
SKC, who have already defeated Liga MX’s Toluca so far in the CCL, rotated their lineup for the first time during their trip to Panama. The strength of Sunday’s XI depends on how comfortable Peter Vermes feels about the return leg, in which SKC must overcome a 2-1 deficit. If he wants to save some firepower for Thursday, first-choice forwards Gerso, Krisztian Nemeth, and Johnny Russell might all see shortened shifts tomorrow. Ilie Sanchez and Matt Besler have started every game this season, so they might also receive rests. SKC’s thinnest spots are defensive midfield and center back, though, so expect the Union to target a tired Ilie and Besler or their replacements.
Vermes opted to field a pretty full lineup in Los Angeles last week, so it’s not unlikely that he does the same tomorrow, with an extra day of rest and another home game ahead.
Jim Curtin went with a very attacking lineup in the Union’s home opener, starting Ilsinho and Alejandro Bedoya ahead of Haris Medunjanin in a diamond midfield. The move backfired hard—the Union’s only goal came from the spot, and Michael Bradley walked into the box unmarked to score both of his goals. New arrival Jamiro Monteiro will bring a defensive presence to the midfield, but he won’t be available against SKC. Expect a more conservative midfield from Curtin tomorrow—Warren Creavalle for Ilsinho seems the most straightforward adjustment—but the lineup as a whole shouldn’t change too much.
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake; Kai Wagner, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Ray Gaddis; Haris Medunjanin; Alejandro Bedoya, Warren Creavalle; Marco Fabián; Fafa Picault, Cory Burke
Sporting Kansas City: Tim Melia; Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Botond Barath, Graham Zusi; Felipe Gutierrez, Ilie Sanchez, Gianluca Busio; Gerso, Krisztian Nemeth, Johnny Russell
How to watch
Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS
When: 3:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 9, 2019