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Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City | MLS is Back Tournament, Quarterfinals

2020 MLS is Back Tournament – Quarterfinals
Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Thurs., July 30 – 8:00 PM ET

TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes; TSN, TVAS2 in Canada

STREAMING: ESPN App; TSN App, TVAS App in Canada

Two of the dark horses coming into Orlando, both Philadelphia and Sporting have been tested en route to the MLS is Back Tournament Quarterfinals. The Union did collect seven points during the group stage, but they did so with just a +2 goal differential. They were able to grind out a result in the Round of 16, but will likely to put on a more convincing performance in the quarterfinals. Sporting started out the tournament with a loss but finished the group stage with two wins, taking the top spot in Group D. Peter Vermes' team almost saw themselves become victims to the biggest upset in the tournament, but Tim Melia saved the day to help his side defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps in a PK shootout in the Round of 16.

The most famous matchup between the two sides came in the final of the 2015 U.S. Open Cup. At Subaru Park in Chester, Sebastien Le Toux opened the scoring in the 23rd minute before Krisztian Nemeth equalized in the 65th minute to ultimately force a penalty-kick shootout. Sporting prevailed 7-6 as the Union dropped their second straight Open Cup final at home and Sporting took home their third Open Cup title. In their all-time series, the two sides each have six wins with five matches ending in draws.

Philadelphia Union

The Union have plenty of talent going forward, not least in rising star Brenden Aaronson, but it was the team's defensive qualities, led by young center back Mark McKenzie, that took center stage in a gritty 1-0 win over the New England Revolution in the Round of 16. From back to front, there is strength throughout the team and even when things break down goalkeeper Andre Blake has been at his brilliant best in Orlando. Both before and throughout the MLS is Back Tournament, head coach Jim Curtin has not shied away from his team's ambitions to join the true elite in MLS. Still undefeated in 2020 and now into the final eight in Orlando, they are on the verge of doing exactly that.

Project Starting XI

Updated team roster

  • Injury Report:
    • QUESTIONABLE: Warren Creavalle (M) - upper leg strain
  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None

Sporting Kansas City

SKC started 2020 with two impressive wins. While they began MLS is Back with a shocking loss, losing a 1-0 lead after a late Tim Melia red card, they managed to bounce back in the final two matches of the group stage to win the group. Sporting entered their Round of 16 matchup against Vancouver Whitecaps FC as heavy favorites due to the absences and injuries the 'Caps were dealing with, but it proved to be a struggle for 90-plus minutes. While Sporting dominated the match, they couldn't find the back of the net and had to rely on Melia to save them in a PK shootout. Alan Pulido will be champing at the bit to get back on the scoresheet, as he's coming off his first game in a Sporting jersey without a goal or assist.

Project Starting XI
  • Updated team roster
  • Injury Report:
    • OUT: Felipe Gutierrez (M) - knee surgery
    • OUT: Andreu Fontas (D) - quad strain
    • QUESTIONABLE: Khiry Shelton (F) - adductor injury
  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None

Series Matchup

  • Union: 6 wins, 22 goals
  • Sporting KC: 6 wins, 20 goals
  • 5 draws


  • Referee: Ramy Touchan
  • Assistant Referees: Micheal Barwegen, Jeremy Kieso
  • 4th Official: Allen Chapman
  • VAR: Robert Sibiga
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