Sporting Kansas City returns home to Sporting Park on Friday as they host the Philadelphia Union in a nationally-televised match (7 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Network).
It's a match with a lot at stake as Sporting KC are three points off the top spot in the East and Philadelphia are one point behind fifth place New England. What will be the key matchups and factors for both teams?
Check out the video below as MLSsoccer.com's Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle preview Friday night's match.
Sporting KC hosts the Philadelphia Union in an important Eastern Conference clash. The Union are currently one point off the last playoff spot with five matches remaining in the Eastern Conference standings. This is the second of three meetings between the two sides in the 2013 regular season.
Philadelphia have one player listed on the injury report and that's Keon Daniel who is questionable with a left groin strain. The team could see some changes to the starting lineup but manager John Hackworth has largely kept things the same throughout the last several matches.
The Union have been struggling mightily in recent weeks with losses in their last three of four matches and a scoreless streak extends over 300 minutes. Before the losing streak, Philadelphia were battling for the top spot in the Eastern Conference but now sit in seventh place. The majority of the problems have been on the offensive end where the team has not scored two or more goals in a match since August 10th vs D.C. United. A result for Philadelphia would greatly help their playoff chances while another loss could move them further down the standings.
Amobi Okugo (Midfielder) - A talented young midfielder who was recently named #8 on MLSsoccer.com's 24 under 24
Sebastien Le Toux (Forward) - Tied for the MLS lead with 12 assists and scored Philly's lone goal in the March 2nd match vs Sporting KC
|at San Jose (1-0 loss)||vs Houston (1-0 loss)|
Some say your college years are the most memorable years of your life. We put that to the test on a few of the players. In part three of four, Benny Feilhaber is up to see what he recalls about his alma mater.
Jamila St. Ann: Benny Feilhaber, where did you go to school? (1 point)
Benny Feilhaber: UCLA.
JS: What is your mascot and what is your mascot’s name? (2 points)
BF: It’s a Bruin. And the name of the mascot? I bet if you told me, I’d know…
JS: Sure, but this is about you remembering.
BF: I’m not going to remember…Bruin the Bear?
JS: His name is Joe. And the female mascot is Josephine.
BF: Joe Bruin? Yeah, I definitely did not know that.
JS: What year was UCLA established? I’ll accept two different answers. (1 point)
BF: What year was UCLA established?! *exaggerated sigh* Uh…19…am I in the right century?
Molly Dreska, from the side: Stop! You got it.
JS: No, 1919. I’ll give that to you…
BF: Oh haha! I was seriously going to guess around the 1920s or ‘30s. So I was going to be close.
JS: What are your official colors? (1 point)
BF: Blue and gold? That has got to be close enough.
JS: Everybody else has said their officially listed colors. It’s UCLA Blue and California Gold.
BF: C’mon. You’ve got to give me full credit for that! I mean, “California Gold”?
JS: We’ll see…upon further review. What was the date of your first goal and who was it against? (2 points)
BF: Me? The date? I know it was against Portland.
JS: Yup. You’re good. Everyone else has been really close on this…
BF: It must have been…August? September. September…5th. 2003?
JS: September 21.
BF: Wow, when does the season start? I thought the season started in like, August.
JS: How many career goals did you get? (1 point)
BF: Career goals I got…seven.
JS: Seven career goals? Like, in total?
BF: In college? Yeah, it was seven. I got two my freshman year and five my sophomore. I only had two years there.
JS: Oh…okay…I guess I got this one wrong. UCLA’s website says 19…
BF: Maybe assists? No, not even assists. Points maybe. Nineteen points maybe.
JS: I’ll have to go back on this one.
BF: Well it was definitely seven goals though. So you’ve got to give me points on the colors question since you were wrong on this one!
JS: Okay, I’ll go back and we’ll see…
(Upon further review, Benny had 19 Games Started, and seven career goals. Due to this error, Benny, you’re awarded 1 bonus point.)
JS: Lastly, what is the title of your fight song? (2 points)
BF: The fight song? Uh…the Might Bruins?
JS: You technically have two, so that answer works. Bonus points (5 points) if you can sing me any of it.
BF: You want me to sing it?
JS: Yeah. If you’re really enthusiastic, you get the points.
BF: Alright. It goes:
The Sporting KC Show aired Tuesday on Sports Radio 810 WHB. Sporting Kansas City striker C.J. Sapong and Philadelphia Union commentator J.P. Dellacamera joined hosts Callum Williams, Andy Edwards and Carter Augustine to preview Friday's nationally televised Eastern Conference match-up at Sporting Park.
Sapong, coming off a two-goal game to help Sporting KC secure a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC last weekend, talks about finding his rhythm heading into the remaining five MLS matches. To hear Sapong's thoughts on his recent run of form, listen to the full podcast below:
EA Sport's FIFA 14 has just been released but where does Sporting KC stack up in this year's edition? Overall, Sporting KC has several players ranked amongst the top of MLS including Matt Besler who is tied with Omar Gonzalez for the highest rated central defenders from MLS in the game.
Below is a look at some Sporting KC player ratings and make sure you get your downloadable cover for FIFA 2014 on the XBox 360 available here.
- Michael Gspurning - 75
- Jimmy Nielsen - 72
- Nick Rimando - 70
- Matt Besler - 73
- Omar Gonzalez - 73
- Carlos Bocanegra - 72
- Victor Bernardez - 72
- Aurelien Collin - 71
- Alessandro Nesta - 71
- Matteo Ferrari - 71
- Seth Sinovic - 66
- Todd Dunivant - 66
- Heath Pearce - 66
- Chris Winger - 65
- David Carney - 65
- Lee Young Pyo - 67
- Sean Franklin - 67
- Sheanon Williams - 66
- Chance Myers - 65
- Jack Jewsbury - 65
- Juninho - 74
- Tim Cahill - 74
- Kleberson - 73
- Nigel Reo-Coker - 73
- Graham Zusi - 72
- Marcelo Sarvas - 71
- Benny Feilhaber - 70
Central Defensive Midfielders
- Osvaldo Alonso - 75
- Arevalo Rios - 73
- Hernand Bernardello - 70
- Kyle Beckerman - 69
- Uri Rosell - 68
- Hendry Thomas - 68
This summer, The Victory Project honored six-year-old Jasmin Booth in the Victory Suite at Sporting Park and raised more than $1,000 at the game to support her charity, Operation Jammies, in its mission to provide pajamas for youth undergoing treatments at local hospitals. Which brings us to Tuesday...
Booth -- diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia last year -- teamed up with Sporting KC All-Star and fashion guru Aurelien Collin for a one-of-a-kind shopping spree at an area Target location to pick out and purchase more than four carts full of apparel for boys and girls of all ages. The pajamas will soon be donated to patients at Children's Mercy Pediatric Hematology/Oncology department.
Sporting Kansas City will face the Philadelphia Union for the eighth time in MLS (regular season) on Friday evening at Sporting Park. The two teams last met on March 2, 2013 at PPL Park with Sporting KC winning the match 3-1 on goals from Graham Zusi, Uri Rosell, and Claudio Bieler.
A few in-depth stats
- Zac MacMath is second in MLS (among goalkeepers with at least 15 starts this season) with a 92.5% save percentage on shots outside the 18 yard box
- Sporting KC leads MLS with 12 headed goals
- Jack McInerney has scored all of his 10 MLS goals from inside the 18 yard box
- Sporting KC is 16-0-2 when C.J. Sapong scores a goal
- Sebastien Le Toux is tied for the MLS lead with 12 assists
- Uri Rosell is second in MLS with 113 interceptions, Aurelien Collin is fourth with 108
Head To Head (MLS regular season)
Home Matches: 2-0-1 (5 goals scored, 2 goals conceded)
Away Matches: 1-1-2 (4 goals scored, 6 goals conceded)
|Sporting KC||Stat||Philadelphia Union|
|Claudio Bieler 10||GOALS||Jack McInerney 10|
|Graham Zusi 7||ASSISTS||Sebastien Le Toux 12|
|Claudio Bieler 69||SHOTS||Jack McInerney 80|
|Oriol Rosell 57||FOULS||Conor Casey 48|
|Jimmy Nielsen 58||SAVES||Zac MacMath 83|
|Jimmy Nielsen 0.97||GAA||Joe Bendik 1.34|
|Sporting KC||Philadelphia Union|
|Shots (on goal)||441 (133)||391 (131)|
|Fouls Committed (Suffered)||431 (381)||368 (351)|
|Duels Won (Avg)||50.18%||49.64%|
|Passing Accuracy (Avg)||78.16%||76.76%|
MLS regular season matches
Sporting KC's Seth Sinovic joined Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler Wednesday morning on 610 Sports Radio. The Sporting KC left back discussed the 2013 season, the departure of Kei Kamara, the team's preparation for the playoffs as well as new rules to the Sporting KC fantasy football league.
Listen to the audio of the interview here (Sinovic interview starts 20:30):
Sporting Kansas City entered Tuesday night with a chance to claim first place in Group 2 of the CONCACAF Champions League. Instead their Champions League fate will be determined on October 23 at Sporting Park (Buy Tickets).
CD Olimpia's 1-0 win over Real Esteli FC in Tegucigalpa kept the Honduran side alive in the tournament and kept the Nicaraguan side winless all-time in CCL. Sporting KC needed a Real Esteli win to clinch first place in the group.
Instead, Sporting KC will need either a win or a draw against Olimpia at home to advance to next year's quarterfinals.
Elsewhere around CCL, the Montreal Impact defeated Heredia 2-0 last night, but it was not enough to keep the Canadian side in the tournament. Montreal's two-goal win opened the door for the San Jose Earthquakes to take first place in the group with a win over Heredia at Buck Shaw Stadium on October 23.
Other MLS teams in action tonight include the Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy. Houston hosts Trinidadian club DirecTV W Connection FC with a chance to move into first-place in the Group A. The LA Galaxy travel to Cartaginés for a match against the 2013 Costa Rican Clausura runners-up. If the Galaxy win tonight, they will clinch first place in the group and become the first MLS side to advance to the quarterfinals.
Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes was a special guest on The Program with Soren Petro on Sports Radio 810 WHB earlier this afternoon. Vermes gave his thoughts on the team's 2-1 victory in Toronto on Saturday, as well as his approach to the final five games ahead on the MLS regular season schedule.
On the team's progress this season...
"The group is interesting. We've evolved over the course of the season. And most of the evolution has been becoming very mature in certain aspects of how we manage games."
On C.J. Sapong scoring three goals in last two games...
"C.J. has a lot of talent. He was a little out of form this year, especially in the mid-way point of the season. Credit to him...he's done a good job in trying to get himself back into it."
On the team's affiliation with Orlando City SC...
"Our guys going in and gettting consistent games that really mean something on a consistent basis has been really good for them. And when they come back to us, not only are they 90 minutes fit, but they also have a routine...That partnership has been fantastic thus far."
On Friday's match-up with Philadelphia...
"Everybody's mind is focused on this home game. We need to get the points at home...We're going to have to be really concentrated and alert for 90 minutes. And we're going to have to make sure that we impose our game on them."
Listen to the full 18-minute interview embedded below...