Sporting Kansas City-Union Preview

A change in coaches wasn’t enough to alter the Philadelphia

Union’s downward spiral, though facing the Eastern Conference’s top

team likely didn’t help.

The Union, winless over their last six in league play, wouldn’t

appear to catch a break in their second game under John Hackworth

as the conference’s second-place club, Sporting Kansas City, visits

PPL Park on Saturday night.

Philadelphia turned to Hackworth after earning only eight points

during its first 11 games this season under Peter Nowak. The Union

didn’t add to that total during their interim coach’s debut, losing

1-0 to D.C. United last Saturday and dropping to 0-5-1 in their

last six MLS games.

However, they outshot D.C. 15-7 while falling to 1-4-1 at home

this season and had a 7-2 advantage on corner kicks.

“There’s new energy in the locker room and we’re ready to move

forward,” defender Sheanon Williams told the league’s website. “We

know we have a lot of potential in this locker room. We can

definitely get results. You could see it tonight. Even though we

didn’t get three points, we sent a message to everyone else that we

can play.”

Philadelphia (2-8-2) has shown it can play with Sporting Kansas

City (9-3-2) over its first two seasons, forcing draws in each of

the last three meetings. The teams played to a scoreless one last

June at PPL Park and a 1-all tie at Kansas City on Sept. 23.

The Union, though, have yet to win in any of the four games in

the series, and their chances of ending that drought don’t appear

promising.

Kansas City, one point behind United for the East lead, is 2-0-2

in its last four league games and 4-0-2 across all competitions

after losing three straight. The club also has allowed the fewest

goals (11) in MLS this season, while Philadelphia has scored a

league-low eight with none over the past 214 minutes of

regulation.

Sporting, though, might have to play more backups for this game

as it is in a stretch of five games over 14 days, including a U.S.

Open Cup quarterfinal Tuesday.

Kansas City, 0-2-2 in its last four road contests, is expected

to have eight players out due to injury or illness for this game.

Among those are central defender Matt Besler (appendicitis) and

forward Bobby Convey (calf).

Coach Peter Vermes tried to use his team’s depth Wednesday in

Seattle, but Sporting couldn’t hold an early lead and settled for a

1-all tie. Jacob Peterson scored his first goal in two years during

the eighth minute, but the Sounders tied the game in the 15th.

“We’ve got to keep reaching down deep into the roster,” Vermes

said. “That’s how we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to do right by our

players. They’re working hard. They’re recovering, and we’ll keep

assessing game by game.”