Sporting Kansas City hits the road this weekend as the team travels east to take on reigning Eastern Conference champions the Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT and is available on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app in both English and Spanish, while the match will also be broadcast on the radio locally on ESPN 94.5 FM (English) and La Grande 1340 AM (Spanish).
1. SEARCHING FOR FIRST WIN
Sporting Kansas City are still searching for the club’s first victory in the 2023 season when the team heads east this weekend to take on the Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park on Saturday night. Both teams saw home unbeaten streaks come to an end this past weekend, as Sporting’s seven-game (6-0-1) unbeaten run was curtailed by Seattle while the Union’s lengthy 24-game (19-0-5) streak was snapped by Orlando.
Sporting, who tied for last in MLS with two goals scored in 2023, have scored first in each of their last two matches, a 2-1 road loss at Dallas and the 4-1 home loss to Seattle. During that two-game skid, Sporting have been outscored 5-0 in the second half.
Sporting are entering into some unwanted history as 2023 now marks just the second time in club history that the team has failed to win any of their first five matches, having also occurred in 1999.
Looking at the positive, teams have gone winless in their first five matches 48 times in MLS history and many of those teams go on to make the playoffs (20 of 48). Recent examples include Portland who reached MLS Cup in 2018 and NYCFC who finished first in the East in 2019.
Peter Vermes Media Availability: Team Updates | Mar. 30, 2023
2. RARE BOUT WITH PHILLY
Sporting Kansas City hits the road again for the fourth time in their opening six matches to open the 2023 campaign when the club travels east to take on the Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park in Chester, Pennsylvania on Saturday night.
Sporting last faced off against the Union during the MLS is Back Tournament during the COVID-19 derailed 2020 season. The two sides met at the Quarterfinal stage on July 30, 2020, with the Union cruising to a 3-1 victory. After falling behind to goals from Jamiro Monteiro and a Sergio Santos brace, Sporting bagged a consolation through Alan Pulido but were eliminated from the tournament.
The last time Sporting faced Philadelphia in MLS regular-season play was on March 10, 2019 at Children’s Mercy Park. Ilie Sanchez gave Sporting an early lead from the spot before Tim Melia stoned Marco Fabian’s penalty kick early in the second half. A late own goal from Jack Elliott sealed the points for Sporting with a 2-0 victory.
In Sporting KC’s last visit to Subaru Park, the team suffered a 2-0 loss on Sept. 23, 2018 following a second-half brace from Jay Simpson. Sporting and Philly are tied 6-6-5 in the all-time regular-season series, with Sporting going 2-4-2 on the road.
3. AGADA GETS OFF THE MARK IN 2023
Sporting Kansas City forward Willy Agada got off the mark for the 2023 campaign this past weekend when he scored the opening goal of the 4-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC at Children’s Mercy Park. After scoring eight goals in just 10 starts last season, it took until game five for Agada to get off the mark in 2023.
Agada’s last two goals have now both come in home appearances against Seattle, having previously scored in a 1-0 win over Seattle on Oct. 2, 2022. He has also scored eight goals in eight starts at Children’s Mercy Park since joining the club last June, with only his goal against Austin FC on Aug. 13, 2022 coming on the road.
Despite a slow start to the 2023 season, Agada still ranks 11th among active MLS players in minutes per goal ratio since the start of August 2022, tallying a goal every 140.78 minutes. Agada only trails some of the biggest names in MLS, including the likes of Chicharito (102.82 m/g), Daniel Gazdag (107.33 m/g), Brenner (115.5 m/g), Hany Mukhtar (116.73 m/g), Sebastian Driussi (136.83 m/g), Lorenzo Insigne (137.5 m/g) and Jesus Ferreira (139 m/g).
4. PULIDO & RUSSELL RETURN TO SQUAD
Sporting Kansas City forwards Alan Pulido and Johnny Russell made their anticipated returns to the matchday squad this past weekend in Sporting KC’s 4-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC at Children’s Mercy Park.
Pulido had been out since undergoing knee surgery before the start of the 2022 season, while Russell went down with a hamstring injury in Sporting’s final preseason match in 2023. Pulido has missed Sporting’s last 43 matches in all competitions, having last appeared in the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs loss to Real Salt Lake on Nov. 28, 2021.
Russell was a stalwart in 2022, appearing in 37 of 38 matches and playing 3,025 of 3,480 available minutes. Prior to getting injured in preseason Russell last missed a match in any competition on March 19, 2022 - a 3-1 loss at Chicago.
Russell entered the match in the 61st minute to a rupturous ovation from the home crowd. However, just two minutes later, Ben Sweat received his second yellow card and was sent off which saw SKC struggle to get Russell into the game. With the game-state deteriorating, Pulido remained on the bench but is fit and available moving forward.
5. TZIONIS EARNS ANOTHER PAIR OF CAPS FOR CYPRUS
Sporting Kansas City winger Marinos Tzionis spent the last week in Europe for a pair of matches with the Cyprus National Team. The 21-year-old appeared in both of Cyprus’ matches taking him to 22 caps with the national team.
Tzionis appeared as a substitute in Cyprus’ first match of the FIFA international window - a 3-0 loss to Scotland in 2024 UEFA Euro qualifying on Saturday, March 25. Coming on with the team trailing 1-0 in the 79th minute, Tzionis and Cyprus succumbed to two late goals from Manchester United’s Scott McTominay.
Three days later, Tzionis started and went 67 minutes in a friendly with Armenia, resulting in a 2-2 draw. The Nicosia native now returns to Kansas City to prepare for Saturday’s match against Philadelphia at Subaru Park.