Thursday, April 02, 2015

#TBT Sporting's History at Home vs Philadelphia Since The Last Win vs the Union

Not going to be going as far back into history this time for this week's Throw Back Thursday. Instead I'm going to use it to build on this weekend's game against the Philadelphia Union at Sporting Park. Since Philadelphia came into the league in 2010, they've not had much success, making the playoffs just once along with making the US Open Cup final last year, losing to Seattle. But while Philadelphia has never been that great of a team, that hasn't kept them from making Kansas City their slump buster when they come to visit. Since Sporting Park opened in 2011, Kansas City has picked up just one win against the Union at home, and since then, the club has gone 0-2-1.

Last year, KC went 0-1-1 against the Union at Sporting Park. The first meeting, on a Wednesday in May last year saw the Union come in with a 1-5-5 record (having zero wins in their last nine) and then head coach, John Hackworth was very much on the hot seat for the Union. The Union came in and while KC dominated in possession 66% to 34%, they couldn't find a goal in the first half. The Union grabbed the very early in the second half as Danny Cruz pounced on a rebound of a shot by Cristian Maidana that had been saved by Eric Kronberg. Cruz immediately signaled for his teammates to join him in running over to the bench for a group hug with Hackworth. KC pushed the game the rest of the way looking for an equalizer and found it in the 80th minute from Dom Dwyer who scored after a give and go with Paulo Nagamura. The game wasn't tied long though as Philadelphia came right back down the field with Andrew Wenger finding Maidana unmarked on the back side, he calmly slotted it home to put Philadelphia back on top 2-1 which is how the game finished.

The second meeting at Sporting Park saw Kansas City again control the game, this time with 68% of the possession, but again it took until the second half for one of the teams to find the net. This time it was KC grabbing the lead early in the second half as Graham Zusi was played in behind Philadelphia's defense by Toni Dovale. Zusi slotted his shot past Zac MacMath to give KC the lead. Unfortunately the Union found their leveler through recent loan signing, Brian Brown who got himself some space away from Kevin Ellis and headed it past Andy Gruenebaum.

In 2013 things didn't go much better at Sporting Park. While KC bookended the season with wins on the road in Philadelphia (3-1 and 2-1), KC again couldn't get it down at home. The Union came into the game at Sporting Park having not scored since the 50th minute of a 5-1 loss to New England, which was their only goal in what at the time was an 0-4-1 winless streak. Once again Kansas City had over 60% possession against Philadelphia and dominated play. But like the other games I've mentioned above they were unable to find net. Conor Casey was able to though in the 36th minute as he capitalized on a rebound knocking the ball past a number of KC bodies to give the Union a 1-0 lead and end a scoreless streak of almost four games. Like the other games against Philadelphia, KC had a number of scoring opportunities but still couldn't find a goal to level the game.

To get to KC's last home win against the Union, one has to go back to 2012, the final game of the season for KC. The Union were already eliminated from the playoff race while KC was looking to flinch the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Just before half, KC grabbed the lead as Jacob Peterson finished off an excellent cross from Kei Kamara to put KC on top. As seems to be habit, the lead didn't last long, as in the 53rd minute, Philadelphia won a penalty kick after a foul by Matt Besler on Cruz. Michael Farfan stepped up but Jimmy Nielsen made the save. Antoine Hoppenot was the first to react to the save by Nielsen though and put the rebound away to tie the game. Philadelphia almost grabbed the lead minutes later as a Jack McInerney header hit the post and was eventually cleared away. KC looked like there were going to have to settle for a draw when Kei Kamara collected a ball near midfield and turned up the field in the 82nd. Kamara dribbled past three Union defenders before picking up speed and running at the Union back line. Kamara then slotted the ball through to CJ Sapong who fired his shot past MacMath and into the net. KC would be able to hold on and take the 2-1 win to clinch first in the East.

Like two of the previous three meetings, the Union head into this weekend's game against KC as the wounded animal, having gone 0-2-2 on the season, scoring three goals, all of which came in one game, while allowing six. The also haven't won since the 2-1 win over KC at PPL Park to close out their home season last year. The game is certainly set up for the Union to once again get their slump busting win. Hopefully KC has learned and will be able to step up this time.

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