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Philadelphia Union 2, Sporting Kansas City 1 | MLS Match Recap

CHESTER, Pa. – Despite being out of playoff contention, Philadelphia Union interim manager Jim Curtin still decided to keep his starting lineup mostly intact Saturday night against Sporting Kansas City.

Nevertheless, it was a pair of rookies that led the Union to a 2-1 victory at PPL Park, as Brian Brown and Pedro Ribeiro both scored their second goals of the year in Philly’s home finale.

Dom Dwyer netted his team-leading 22nd goal of the season for Sporting Kansas City (14-12-7), who clinched a playoff spot last week but could now be in jeopardy of falling out of the top three spots in the Eastern Conference.

Cristian Maidana assisted on both goals for the Union (10-11-12), who snapped a five-game winless streak – but not before the skid eliminated them from the postseason race.

Maidana now has 11 assists on the year, tied for the sixth most in MLS.

With the game deadlocked at 1-1 in the 71st minute, Ribeiro scored the game-winner shortly after coming into the game, easily depositing a cross from Maidana, who was sprung free down the sideline by Sheanon Williams.

The goal was the second of the season for the 2014 first-round pick, who emerged as one of Curtin’s preferred attacking options down the stretch.

Trailing 1-0 in the second half, Sporting Kansas City found their equalizer after Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath took down Soony Saad in the box in the 53rd minute to prevent a breakaway attempt that developed after Vincent Nogueira committed an open-field turnover.

A minute later, Dwyer drilled the penalty kick to move within three goals of Golden Boot leader Bradley Wright-Phillips of New York. Dwyer also had a great chance to score in the fifth minute but pushed a left-footed shot just wide of the far post.

Brown opened the scoring in the 45th minute, playing a ball out wide to Maidana, making a run between the SKC center backs, and then finishing a perfectly placed cross from Maidana.

Both of Brown’s goals this season came against Kansas City.

The Union had other chances to score before the break, but SKC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg, filling in for the injured Andy Gruenebaum (calf), made three first-half saves, including a stop on a wide-open Maidana in the 29th minute. Kronberg’s other two saves came on Danny Cruz, who put a couple of shots on target in rapid succession in the 15th minute.

Kronberg again came up big in the 82nd minute to kick away an open shot from Andrew Wenger. MacMath had a nice save on Saad early in the second half to keep the game tied at 1-1.

US internationals Matt Besler (thigh) and Graham Zusi didn’t play for Kansas City, though Zusi was on the bench. Union leading scorers Sebastien Le Toux (ankle) and Conor Casey (knee) sat out for Philly.

With the win, the Union improved their record to 2-0-1 against Sporting Kansas City this season.

Sporting Kansas City face Saprissa in a CONCACAF Champions League game on Thursday before returning home to host the Red Bulls in their MLS regular-season finale Oct. 26 in what will be a crucial game for playoff seeding.

The Union conclude their season at Columbus on the same day.

Dave Zeitlin coves the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.

MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match

Rank Player What We Saw
1 Cristian Maidana Union playmaker put both goals on a plate in stellar outing
2 Maurice Edu Was exceptional winning balls in the air and did well limiting Dwyer's chances
3 Soony Saad Had his fair share of dangerous runs on the right wing, just missed a goal thanks to a big MacMath save

 

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