KANSAS CITY, KS - SEPTEMBER 23: Teal Bunbury #9 of Sporting Kansas City battles Brian Caroll #7 of the Philadelphia Union for the ball during the game on September 23, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
In a strategy meant to get his players some rest, Peter Vermes played some backups in midweek in anticipation of trying to get three points from an Eastern Conference rival. Philadelphia is the perfect target as their season has been disappointing to say the least.
Sporting Kansas City plays their third match in seven days, traveling to Philadelphia to face the Union. The Union are close to the bottom of the league resulting in the sacking of their coach Peter Nowak, but not before he essentially gutted their roster of veteran presence. Sporting is still near the top of the East after essentially playing for a result in Seattle and taking out a deserved point with a reserve laden roster. This match should play out differently as a somewhat reserve team should play in the US Open Cup next week allowing Sporting KC to play most of their starters in Philly.
Sporting KC at Full Strength
Peter Vermes played a roster full of reserves against Seattle in the midweek match, most likely resulting in a full strength squad for today's match. This may not mean we see the same eleven that featured during the early season, but expect regulars like Graham Zusi and Kei Kamara to get back on the field. The notable exceptions continue to be Matt Besler and Bobby Convey, but Jacob Peterson and Lawrence Olum have filled in admirably and in Peterson's case been the key to getting four points out of the last match.
Philadelphia in Flux
With the ouster of Peter Nowak, the Union are in an unstable situation, but it can't be worse than the dysfunction of the past year. Funny how things can go bad so quickly as Philadelphia was a playoff team last year and almost won the Eastern conference. Instead of a youth movement, Philadephia has just ditched all pretense of contention and discarded with all of their experienced players and replaced them with youngsters. While this may pay dividends in the long run, it is realized as a poor team that struggles not only with consistency but also simply getting results.
Wealth Of Striking Options
The main question this match is who gets to play up front. Jacob Peterson has been successful filling in for Kei Kamara the past two matches and I've been impressed by Soony Saad's play in recent matches. The reality is that CJ Sapong and Teal Bunbury may start, but expect both players to get their chances as the congested schedule results in a deeper rotation. It's a problem most teams would wish for
Graham Zusi Roger Espinoza
Kei Kamara Jacob Peterson
Sporting 2 Philadephia 0
Much like Toronto, Philadelphia is a mess in transition, even on the road Sporting should dominate this match.