About the Teams
Sporting Kansas City
Having already clinched both a playoff spot and home field advantage in the conference semifinals, Sporting Kansas City is sitting pretty as the season reaches its final weekend. Sporting is still hunting the Supporters Shield, however, and need a win and a New York Red Bulls loss or draw to clinch it. There's no word on whether Claudio Bieler will be back for this match or if he will continue to nurse the groin injury he has been struggling with the past couple of months. The rest of the lineup will be full strength, however, giving Sporting its best shot at a win in Philadelphia.
This is a team that has shown it can rise to the level of Sporting and beat them as evidenced by their 1-0 win at Sporting Park last month. They need a win, a Houston loss and a Revolution loss to get that coveted fifth playoff spot. They will be without captain Brian Carroll and come into this match having drawn to DC United and suffering a nearly fatal loss to Montreal in the past two weeks. Other than Carroll, however, they'll bring a full strength squad to PPL Park, hoping to sneak into the playoffs.
Who to Watch For
Sporting Kansas City- Benny Feilhaber
Feilhaber got the night off Wednesday night against Olimpia to presumably get rested for this important match against the Union. The Union will be without their captain Brian Carroll, who has been instrumental in steadying the midfield for the Union and keeping attacks at bay. Without Carroll, the Union will try to push the ball up forward more instead of playing back. This will allow Feilhaber a lot of space to push forward and to try and catch the Union on their heels. They'll be attacking for most of the game, which will allow Feilhaber to control the midfield and to create opportunities in the space provided by the home side.
Philadelphia Union- Sebastian Le Toux
As said above, the Union are going to press forward for most of the match to try and get the goals they need to get the win. Le Toux will be a crucial cog in the Union's offensive machine as he tries to go against Feilhaber for who can control the midfield the most. His ability to create opportunities and to get the ball up to Conor Casey and Jack Mcinerny will be the deciding factor in this match.
How they will Win
Sporting Kansas City
Save for the first twenty minutes, the first match against the Union to open the season in March gives Sporting all of the ideas needed to beat the Union. Sporting needs to control the tempo, control the possession and force the Union into giving up goals. The Union will give up goals if pressured enough as evidenced by the three Sporting put up on them to start the season. Whether it's Dom Dwyer up top forcing mistakes with his speed or Claudio Bieler with his threat of an accurate shot, Sporting will force the Union into mistakes and into goals for the away side.
While Sporting needs to repeat the performance they had against the Union back in March, the Union need to repeat the performance they had back in September. They need to absorb the pressure that Sporting is going to put on the back line and they need to frustrate Sporting to the point where they leave openings on the back line. Conor Casey is one of the better people to have up top when an offense revolves around counters, so the Union need to use this advantage and score like they did at Sporting Park last month.
Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Uri Rosell, Peterson Joseph, Benny Feilhaber, Soony Saad, Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi
Philadelphia Union: Zac MacMath; Fabinho, Jeff Parke, Sheanon Williams, Raymon Gaddis; Amobi Okugo, Michael Farfan, Kleberson, Danny Cruz; Conor Casey, Jack McInerney