MatchDay 10: Previewing Sporting KC vs. Philadelphia Union

05/14/2014 9:10 AM

05/14/2014 9:10 AM

In the last game before losing Matt Besler and Graham Zusi for the World Cup, Sporting Kansas City welcomes the Philadelphia Union to Sporting Park (7:30 p.m. on KMCI-TV). And, as with last weekend’s game in Montreal, this is a game of two teams holding up the opposite ends of the Eastern Conference table. Kansas City is fresh off the 3-0 thrashing of the Montreal Impact (and that score is very flattering to the Impact) and a 2-0 victory over the Columbus Crew the week before. Over its last seven games, Kansas City is 5-1-1 with 13 goals scored and just four allowed (none at Sporting Park). That lone loss to New England, remember, included two late goals after Aurelien Collin’s red card. Philadelphia, on the other hand, hasn’t won a game since March 5 — a 1-0 home win in the second game of the season. Since that victory? A mixed bag of mediocrity: A 1-1 draw at home to Montreal, a 1-0 loss in Montreal, a 2-2 draw with undefeated Real Salt Lake and a 1-0 home loss to D.C. United. Bizarre. The Union have 8 points from 11 matches and just two goals in the last five games. Frustration boiled over last weekend with coach John Hackworth openly derided by Union fans with a “Fire Hackworth” chant during a 1-0 home loss to D.C. United. On that note, let’s preview. Tactical Considerations Rest now or rest later? With Besler and Zusi leaving for U.S. training camp, four players out on loan to USL Pro affiliates and two players on injured reserve, Vermes will have just 21 players at his disposal for most of May. The U.S. Open Cup will come into play early in June too. Against a struggling team and embattled coach, this could be a good time for Peter Vermes to rest a player or two. Perhaps Benny Feilhaber finally takes a seat. He’s played all but one minute in the league this year and, when Zusi’s gone, Vermes will need Feilhaber to run the offense in the weeks ahead. Leading scorer Dom Dwyer claims he is just hitting his stride, but this could be a game for Claudio Bieler to get a start. After all, KC aren’t paying Bieler to be a full-time substitute. (He’s only seen 136 minutes on the field this year.) The team still lists Sal Zizzo (groin strain) and C.J. Sapong (neck strain) as questionable. I’ve heard that Zizzo is very close to returning and Sapong isn’t far behind. Perhaps one or both get thrown directly back into the mix. The Union’s shoot-first aim-second offense vs. KC’s more efficient shoot-first aim-second offense

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