Union beats slumping Sporting KC 2-0

The Philadelphia Union beat a depleted Sporting Kansas City squad 2-0 in Talen Energy Stadium.

Union Starting XI: Blake; Fabinho, Marquez, Yaro, Rosenberry; Creavalle, Bedoya; Pontius, Barnetta, Herbers; Sapong

Sporting KC Starting XI: Kann; Opara, Abdul-Salaam, Besler, Medranda; Feilhaber, Mustivar , Espinoza; Peterson, Dwyer, Zusi.

Sporting KC came into Talen Energy Stadium hungry for a win as they were riding an 11-game winless streak. Both teams came in on short rest with Sporting KC  playing its fifth game in 15 days and the Union winning in Columbus three nights earlier. Sporting KC had rested most of their starters in their CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday, however.

The Union stuck with the same starting XI that defeated Columbus. Sporting KC’s openers had to go with a makeshift lineup since several regulars were unavailable due to injury and suspension, but stayed with their usual 4-3-3 formation. Graham Zusi moved back into his typical forward position after filling in on the backline in recent matches.

Neither team dominated play in the first, though the Union had more quality chances. In one 3-minute stretch, Fabinho placed two crosses in the front of the goal but a sliding CJ Sapong unable to catch up to either of them. In the 20th minute, yellow cards were handed out to Jimmy Medrada for a harsh tackle, and to Roger Espinoza for complaining about it. This would prove damaging to Sporting later in the game. The half ended with a 0-0 tie.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were uneventful. In the 60th minute, Medrada threw his elbow into Keegen Rosenberry just outside the Sporting KC penalty area for a red card, leaving SKC down a man. Right after that, Roland Alberg came in for Fabian Herbers. It didn’t take long for that sub to have an impact as Alberg took a shot from just outside the box that went into the top right corner of the net. SKC goalkeeper Alec Kann didn’t have a chance.

Charlie Davies made his Talen Energy Stadium debut in the 79th minute to cheers from the crowd as he replaced Chris Pontius. Davies played up top as Sapong slid back for the remainder of the game. Towards the end of the match, SKC started putting pressure on the Union. In the 87th minute, Espinoza received a straight red for pulling down Alberg, giving the Union a two-man advantage. Tranquillo Barnetta put the game away for good in stoppage time as he deftly shot the ball past an oncoming Kann.

The win put the Union in third place in the Eastern Conference, just three points behind first place Toronto FC. The Union are looking to end the season strong. After the game, Union manager Jim Curtin said, “I just told the guys that we shouldn’t be happy to just get in the playoffs. We should be shooting for top of the East.”

 

 

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