Preview: Hackworth, Philly look to turn it around vs. SKC
PHILADELPHIA UNION vs SPORTING KANSAS CITY
PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
June 23, 2012 (WEEK 16, MLS Game #139)
7 p.m. ET (TCN-Phi; KSMO)
Philadelphia Union are looking to put a halt to their long winless run when they play host to a Sporting Kansas City side on the second game on a difficult road trip when the clubs meet Saturday at PPL Park. Union are winless in their last six, after a 1-0 home loss against D.C. United last weekend. Sporting started the road trip on the West Coast at midweek, extending their unbeaten run with a 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC.
REFEREE: Terry Vaughn. SAR (bench): Anthony Vasoli; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: John McCloskey
MLS Career: 153 games; FC/gm: 28.3; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 49; pens: 49
- PHILADELPHIA UNION - OUT: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); DOUBTFUL: DF Sheanon Williams (R big toe sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Gabriel Gomez (L knee patellar tendonitis); MF Cristhian Hernandez (R knee sprain); PROBABLE: MF Keon Daniel (L ankle sprain)
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY - OUT: MF Korede Aiyegbusi (R knee sprain); DF Matt Besler (appendicitis); FW Bobby Convey (R calf strain); DF Cyprian Hedrick (L fibula fracture); GK Jon Kempin (R ankle fracture); MF Paulo Nagamura (R abductor strain); MF Luke Sassano (L knee sprain); DF Shawn Singh (L quad strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Gabriel Gomez ... KC: Aurelien Collin
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Michael Farfan, Carlos Valdes... KC: Chance Myers, Jimmy Nielsen
ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Union 0 wins, 2 goals ... Sporting 1 win, 4 goals ... Ties 3
AT PHILADELPHIA (2 meetings): Union 0 wins, 1 goal ... Sporting 0 wins, 1 goal ... Ties 2
RETURN MATCH: 10/24: Sporting Kansas City vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. CT
LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/22: PHI 0, KC 0
9/23: KC 1, PHI 1 (Bravo 56 - Le Toux 63)
- The teams have played to three consecutive draws, after Kansas City recorded a 2-0 win against Union on June 10, 2010 in their first meeting ever.
- Both meetings at PPL Park have ended in draws.
- Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. KC: first game ... Peter Vermes vs. PHI: P4 W1 L0 D3
Philadelphia Union saw their winless run extended to six games, losing the first game of the John Hackworth era, 1-0 to D.C. United at PPL Park on Saturday. Union are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 8 points from 12 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Philly's struggles continue in loss to DC
- The game's lone goal came in the 78th minute, when United's Chris Pontius finished off a Branko Boskovic free kick, tapping in from close range.
- In the first game in charge for interim manager John Hackworth, Union generated the majority of scoring chances putting nine attempts on goal and three shots on target, but United goalkeeper Bill Hamid held firm.
- Hackworth made five changes to the team in his first game at the reins. Zac MacMath came in at goal for Chris Konopka, while Amobi Okugo, Michael Lahoud, Josue Martinez and Jack McInerney replaced Raymon Gaddis, and Kai Herdling, the suspended Lionard Pajoy and the traded Danny Mwanga.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan (Jorge Perlaza 82) - Michael Lahoud, Brian Carroll - Freddy Adu, Michael Farfan, Josue Martinez (Antoine Hoppenot 62) - Jack McInerney (Chandler Hoffman 74).
State of the Union: Episode 12
- In his first game in charge, Hackworth gave Jack McInerney the start as the spearhead striker. It was the first start of the league campaign for the 19-year-old McInerney, and his first appearance in an MLS game since April 28.
- "Coach Hack gave me the opportunity and I told me during the week that I would begin playing a little more and I'm grateful for that ... I saw in the press conference that he said they are going to start changing some faces in the starting lineup and I just hoped I was one of those faces," said McInerney. "It felt good and it was a confidence booster."
- After missing the Toronto FC match, Gabriel Gomez was also held out of the D.C. United game after returning from international duty with Panama.
- "He got hurt in Dallas. He never fully recovered from that injury with the national team when he was with Panama. He got released yesterday afternoon; he didn't play. He has not played a game since Dallas, which is quite a long break," said Hackworth.
- After playing five of the previous seven games in central defense, Sheanon Williams returned to his right back spot - where he started the season. "He's one of the best right backs in the league," Hackworth said. "And he's a 22-year-old kid. He can get better and he I certainly hope he does."
- Said Williams: "It seem like it's been a long time and I guess it had been. It was nice to be able to go forward again. It was nice to be able to help the team in the attack. That's something I like to do. And I would think the coaching staff would want me to do that."
- Amobi Okugo was slotted into central defense alongside Carlos Valdes; it was his first appearance there this season for the nominal central midfielder.
- "We're trying to play out of the back right now and Amobi's very composed on the ball, he's got great feet, and he's hard as nails too," Hackworth said. "[He] just gives us a lot. When you can control the tempo and fight for the next one, especially early in the game, we did a great job playing out the back even under some big pressure by D.C., and Amobi is a big part of that.
- Antoine Hoppenot made his second lengthy appearance as a substitute in a league game. He scored his first professional goal in the Open Cup win against D.C. United 11 days earlier.
- "He's a little diamond, isn't he?" Hackworth said. "He's a sparkplug. He's dangerous. He stretches people and he's deceptively tougher than them too. Now we need to get him to find that last ball a little better and finish, and I think that's going to come for sure."
- Freddy Adu played the full 90 minutes for the fourth time in his last five appearance, only his first-half sending off vs. New York marring the streak. "I think Freddy's done a good job when we play him on that right side he's very creative. It's been good for us. I think the final ball was missing tonight," Hackworth said.
SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Sporting Kansas City made it four games without loss, playing to a 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday evening at CenturyLink Field. Sporting have 29 points from 13 matches, in second place in the Eastern Conference.
HIGHLIGHTS: KC steal a point in trip to Seattle
- Sporting KC jumped out an early lead. After Seattle could not clear their lines, Aurelien Collin nodded the ball back to Jacob Peterson, who fired a shot from the right corner of the box. His effort deflected off Sounders FC midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and looped into the far upper corner.
- But Sounders FC pulled even in the 15th minute with a stunning goal. Mauro Rosales sent in a free kick from the right side from about 25 yards out, and Patrick Ianni met it with a spectacular side-footed volley from the center of the box that slammed into the back of the goal.
- Seattle midfielder Alvaro Fernandez was shown a straight red card for a tackle from behind on Sporting's Roger Espinoza in stoppage time.
- Sporting head coach Peter Vermes made four changes to the team that defeated Toronto FC 2-0 at Livestrong Sporting Park. Michael Harrington came in at left back for Seth Sinovic, Michael Thomas and Peterson Joseph started in midfield for Julio Cesar and Graham Zusi, and Soony Saad came into the side for C.J. Sapong.
- SPORTING KANSAS CITY (4-3-3): Jimmy Nielsen - Chance Myers, Lawrence Olum, Aurelien Collin, Michael Harrington - Michael Thomas, Peterson Joseph (Graham Zusi 50), Roger Espinoza - Jacob Peterson (Kei Kamara 65), Teal Bunbury, Soony Saad (C.J. Sapong 86).
SKC preview Union matchup
- While Sporting were able to extend their current unbeaten run to six games in all competitions, they did remain without a victory in their last four away league matches.
- "All in all from our perspective it was a well-deserved point. We made a lot of changes to our lineup and a lot of guys got an opportunity to play and contribute tremendously," said Sporting manager Peter Vermes. "From that perspective we are very happy; they hit one off the post - we hit one off the post."
- After returning from international duty with Sierra Leone - and a 38-hour plane trip - Kei Kamara was kept out of the starting lineup, but came on as a 65th-minute substitute.
- "I knew just the travel in itself was going to be tough for him. That's one of the reasons we didn't start him tonight but it was good to get that 30 minutes of the game just because he's got to get back into the swing of things and the way we play because it's a lot different than the way he plays with his national team. I thought he was good and made a difference, especially in the aerial side of the game to put them under pressure."
- Making his second consecutive start in a wide forward role, Jacob Peterson scored his first goal since Oct. 10, 2010.
- Michael Thomas made his MLS debut in the match, starting in the midfield. He was the 19th overall pick (by San Jose) in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
- "He's played well in reserve games and he's worked hard in training," Vermes said. "One thing I said to all the guys who were getting starts today: ëYou guys deserve it. You guys have worked for this. You should go into this thinking you deserve it. That's why you're out there and you're going to do well.'
- Soony Saad also made his first MLS start in Seattle, making his second appearance of the season.
- "I thought the guys that participated were fantastic, they took advantage of opportunities. At times we were a little disconnected in our buildup but outside of that the work ethic was great, they closed the game out, and they picked the right moments to go," said Vermes. "We scored one goal and hit another off the bar, we had some good chances. I'm very pleased with the group of guys that played today."
- After the trip to Seattle, SKC faces a trip back across the continent for the Philadelphia, then a midweek quarterfinal tie in the U.S. Open Cup against the USL PRO Dayton Dutch Lions at home.
- "We've got a lot of good players here and I think the way that Peter and the coaches have put together the roster, it's deep, and we've got a lot of injuries right now," said Peterson. "Coming here and getting a point with a weekend cross-country game, it's a big one for us. We've rested some of our keys guys so hopefully they'll be ready come Saturday."