The Philadelphia Union is set to lock horns with Sporting Kansas City in the first quarterfinal of the 'MLS is Back' tournament later this week. Both sides gave good accounts of themselves in their respective round-of-16 fixtures and will look to progress to the semi-final of the MLS tournament with a victory on Thursday.
The Philadelphia Union has the home advantage going into the fixture and will be playing to its strengths at the Subaru Park. Sporting Kansas City has a potent and in-form attacking force, however, and will trouble the Union's well-drilled defence.
Sporting Kansas City failed to score from open play in its round-of-16 clash against the Vancouver Whitecaps and the goalkeeping heroics of Tim Melia were required to seal the impressive attacking side's quarterfinal berth. The away side will have to bring its best self to the Subaru Park to overcome a formidable Philadelphia Union side.
The Philadelphia Union was also not at its best last week and scraped past a New England Revolution side by a narrow 1-0 margin. The Union is accustomed to dominating games and will try to seize the initiative against the Kansas-based outfit in its own den.
Philadelphia Union vs Sporting Kansas City Head-to-Head
Sporting Kansas City holds a slight historical advantage over the Philadelphia Union and will go into this game with a marginally superior head-to-head record. The Kansas side has won eight games out of a total 19 fixtures played between the two sides and has lost six matches.
Sporting Kansas City clinched the previous MLS fixture between the two sides with an Ilie Sanchez penalty and a Jack Ellliot own goal contributing to a 2-0 victory.
Philadelphia Union form guide in the MLS: D-W-W-D-W
Sporting Kansas City form guide in the MLS: W-L-W-W-W
Philadelphia Union vs Sporting Kansas City Team News
The Philadelphia Union is one of the few sides in the MLS tournament that is not plagued by the absence of its most important players. The likes of Sergio Santos and Kacper Przybylko have a point to prove at the moment and will want to make a statement against the away side.
The home side relies heavily on its midfield to pull the strings in the middle of the pitch and has the potential to score plenty of goals. Sergio Santos scored the only goal of the game against the New England Revolution and will look to get on to the scoresheet again on Thursday.
Sporting Kansas City
Sporting Kansas City will go into the game without former Barcelona defender Andreu Fontas who is currently nursing a muscle injury. Star midfielder Felipe Gutierrez is also recovering from a knee injury and will be unavailable for selection.
The Kansas-based team recorded an incredible 36 shots on target against the Vancouver Whitecaps and will look to improve its conversion rate against the Philadelphia Union
Injured: Felipe Gutierrez, Andreu Fontas
Philadelphia Union vs Sporting Kansas City Predicted XI
Philadelphia Union Predicted XI (4-4-2): Andre Blake; Kai Wagner, Mark McKenzie, Jack Elliot, Ray Gaddis; Jose Martinez, Jamiro, Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson; Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos
Sporting Kansas City Predicted XI (4-4-2): Tim Melia; Luis Martins, Roberto Puncec, Graham Smith, Graham Zusi; Gianluca Busio, Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza; Khiry Shelton, Gerso Fernandes, Alan Pulido
Philadelphia Union vs Sporting Kansas City Prediction
The Philadelphia Union will have to put up rigid lines of defence to prevent Sporting Kansas City's creative stalwarts from running away with the game. The Union had a fairly comfortable game against the New England Revolution but will not find it easy against the likes of Alan Pulido and Ilie Sanchez.
Sporting Kansas City's inability to convert its impressive attacking routines into goals will be a source of worry for manager Peter Vermes. The away side will be hoping to clinch the fixture with early goals on Thursday.
The Philadelphia Union has a tough defence that generally does not leak goals but Sporting Kansas City's fluid style of play is sure to present a formidable challenge and may well tip the scales in favour of the away side.
Prediction: Philadelphia Union 1-2 Sporting Kansas City
Published 29 Jul 2020, 20:55 IST