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Preview: Union vs. Sporting Kansas City

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Game time: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.

TV: The Comcast Network

Philadelphia Union will host one of Major League Soccer’s hottest teams tonight when Sporting Kansas City comes into town.

Kansas City (3-6-4) may sit near the bottom of the table, but they are unbeaten in their last six (including U.S. Open Cup play), including a 4-1 spanking of one of the league’s best teams, FC Dallas. They’re also a team whose poor overall record owes itself in large part to a road trip that spanned from opening day till this month, when they opened their new stadium, so it’s a team that is better than its record. They’ve juggled lineups all season, with only two outfield players starting more than nine of the team’s 13 games. They’ve also had to do without some of their best players, such as winger Ryan Smith, who has missed time due to injury and recently announced he’ll sit out the season for family reasons.

The players who are starting for them are largely a collection of no-names and new names that indicate some of the juggling going on. Rookie forward C.J. Sapong has earned a starting spot after being drafted this year after a career that included a stint with the Union-affiliated AC Reading United. Teal Bunbury has not been starting lately, but former top overall draft pick Chance Myers has been, at right back. Davy Arnaud is best known as an attacker, but he’s now holding down a center midfield role. The team typically rolls out a formation somewhere between a 4-5-1 and a 4-3-3, and Omar Bravo has been manning one of the outside spots and playing fairly well. Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen is one of the league’s best.

The Union (6-4-4) come in off a disappointing loss away to Vancouver and are in the midst of an eight-day stretch that includes three games, with Chivas USA up this weekend. In a midweek game after a road trip that crossed three time zones, one would expect some players to get a rest. Look for a shuffling at midfield that could be completely different from the Vancouver match, and don’t be surprised if Sebastien Le Toux finally starts a game on the bench. (Then again, this is Peter Nowak’s team, so don’t be surprised at anything.) Carlos Ruiz is due back from international duty after Guatemala was knocked out of the Gold Cup, but he may not return to the field for the Union until the weekend.

Probable starters

Philadelphia

Goalkeeper: Faryd Mondragon

Defenders: Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams

Midfielders: Keon Daniel, Roger Torres, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan

Forwards: Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney

Kansas City

Goalkeeper: Jimmy Nielsen

Defenders: Seth Sinovic, Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Chance Myers

Midfielders: Birahim Diop, Luke Sassano, Davy Arnaud, Graham Zusi, Omar Bravo

Forwards: C.J. Sapong

Injuries and suspensions

Philadelphia – OUT: GK Thorne Holder (illness); QUESTIONABLE: MF Amobi Okugo (L ankle sprain); MF Gabriel Farfan (R quad strain); PROBABLE: FW Danny Mwanga (R knee contusion).

Kansas City – OUT: FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); MF Craig Rocastle (R knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Graham Zusi (L ankle sprain).

Prediction

A 1-1 draw. A bad loss, little time to prepare, the probable need to rest some key players, and a hot team in Kansas City, which is better than its record. Still, it’s always tough to win on the road.

9 Comments

  1. With this probable line-up, you tease me. It won’t happen, it’s too obvious and good. I think we can thump on these guys, if that is the line up. 3-0.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      All right, guys. You got me this time. I should have listed it as “Logical Lineup”. 😉

      Of course, I guess I hedged my bets, because I think we’d win with this lineup — and yet I predicted a draw.

  2. Probable lineup or “I would go with this lineup?” Inside infor? I highly doubt that Torres and Jack Mack start. I dont believe Torres has earned a start. Naks for Torres and Le Toux for Jack Mack. Union 2-0 win!!! Le Toux with a brace…please Le Toux 2010 come back?!?!?!

  3. as long as we rest migs and the serb i can deal.

    • 1) Migs doesn’t need rest…he needs to ride the bench for the rest of the season. There’s no reason to play 2 defensive mids, especially when Carroll covers twice the ground Migs does when they’re both on the field, when Carroll’s distribution is incredibly better than Migs’, and when Carroll isn’t afraid to step up and make a tackle that Migs would back out of (see the pathetic excuse for Migs’ attempted tackle on Chumiento that set up Rochat’s goal in Vancouver). I’d take Carroll on a bad day over Migs on good day. I really hate knocking Migs like this because he’s a good veteran presence to have on the field, but all the guy does is disrupt the Union’s offensive flow. Use the guy tactically as a late defensive sub to protect a lead, but definitely definitely not as a starter.

      2) Again, I don’t think the old Serb needs rest…he needs to be used as a sub. It’s absolutely unfair for Nowak to thrust him right into the starting line up when he hasn’t played a game in over 2 years and when he’s not at match fitness. We don’t even know how he’ll mesh with the team, and the game in Vancouver was fairly evident that he has no chemistry with the team at all. He needs to be used as a late sub, and until he proves his worth to this team, there’s no reason he should ever be starting over Mwanga.

  4. Probable lineup:
    Mondragon
    Richter – Gonzalez – Holder – Houapeu
    Le Toux – Miglioranzi – Pfeffer – Mapp
    Paunovic – Ruiz

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