In a returning feature from last season, I'll be previewing each match by interviewing a journalist/broadcaster who covers Sporting KC's opponent. This week I spoke to Jonathan Tannenwald, who writes for The Goalkeeper Blog on Philly.com and regular covers the Union. You can follow him on twitter @TheGoalkeeper. Here are his thoughts on Saturday's match.
On Sebastian Le Toux & Conor Casey
Conor Casey gives this team an aerial threat and a real presence in the 18-yard box that they've never really had.
(Le Toux) It's important symbolically to have brought him back because the fans are very happy about it. He works his backside off and he's great in the community. I think he's got to prove a little bit that, A) he's not rusty because he didn't play a lot last year, and B) that its not going to take him until September to score a goal from open play which is what happened in 2011.
On crowd at PPL Park for Saturday's match
Philly's got one of the best home crowds in Major League Soccer, no doubt about it. They have from day one and the fans for as much as they've suffered through (one playoff appearance in club history), they've given a lot. They've packed the place every week whether the team is good or not. They're loud, maybe a little coarse for some people, but they're a great fan base, one of the best in the Eastern Conference and MLS.
On Sporting KC
The key to me and the reason why I think they are still going to be one of the top teams in the East is having Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler together in the center of defense. They're both really good and Peter Vermes is a good coach that gets his team to play at a high level.
On Saturday's match
If I had to make a prediction, I'd give it a 1-1 tie. John Hackworth said in his press conference that Kansas City is not a team you'd like to open against because they're so good. Philly gets to play at home which helps but you're coming up against a team that I think as the Union are still gelling, Kansas City's still pretty cohesive in a lot of ways. I think it's going to be a tough challenge for the Union. I think they'll score and be able to ride the home advantage for a while but I think it's going to end up 1-1.