MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
05/13/2014 1:07 PM
05/13/2014 1:14 PM
Philadelphia (1-5-5) at Kansas City (5-2-2), 8:30 p.m.
Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling Philadelphia Union will return to action on Wednesday for a stern test against Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park.
The match comes at an inopportune time for the Union, who have gone eight MLS regular season games without a win.
Sporting, meanwhile, is coming off of a 3-0 demolition of the Montreal Impact on Saturday, a result that helped keep the reigning MLS Cup champions atop the Eastern Conference - they are level on 17 points with the New England Revolution for first place in the East.
Dom Dwyer stole the headlines by bagging a brace in Sporting's defeat of 10- man Montreal, but it was the superb play of Oriol Rosell that made the team tick. According to statistical analysts Opta, the Spaniard attempted 166 passes and completed 160 while Kansas City completed 739 of 803 pass attempts, both records since the company began keeping MLS statistics in 2011.
Rosell's performance did not go unnoticed as head coach Peter Vermes sang the midfielder's praises after the match.
"His biggest quality is that he finds himself always in the right positions to receive the ball in space, and always with options once he gets the ball," Vermes told the club's official website. "He knows before he gets it where he wants to play it, so from that perspective that's one of the reasons why he's been good in our team.
"There are some other players as well that make it easier for him now to play. When you have Benny (Feilhaber) next to him, (Paulo) Nagamura - you just keep going through the guys with a real understanding of how and what the purpose is, for one guy to receive the ball and the options they have. He's very good, but he's got a lot of good players around him to play with."
Vermes has had years to fine-tune Sporting's high-pressure, possession style of play, but John Hackworth is still in rebuilding mode with the Union.
Philadelphia made wholesale changes during the offseason, adding the likes of Maurice Edu, Christian Maidana and Vincent Nogueira while also swapping Jack McInerney for Andrew Wenger earlier this term. The players' unfamiliarity with one another is evident as the Union have dropped their last three league matches, most recently falling to East rival D.C. United.
"Right now, we have to gather ourselves, move on and think about the next game at Kansas City," Union striker Sebastien Le Toux told the club's official website. "It's not easy to do, but when things don't go well, we have to put ourselves in a good position and come back ready to play well on the road. We have to stop thinking about what happened and start thinking about what can happen. As players we have to do that and make sure we do that as a group."
Hackworth's men have scored just one goal in their last four league outings, but it came by way of a Brad Evans own goal in a 2-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC. The last Union player to get on the scoresheet was Le Toux, who netted a penalty kick in Philadelphia's 2-1 loss to Red Bull New York on April 16.
Philadelphia's character has been tested and many believe that Hackworth is on the hot seat, but Edu is confident that the Union can get out of their current funk.
"It is (being tested) because it's easy to put your head down and give in," Edu told Philadelphia's website this week. "We need to just continue to stay strong as a group and keep our heads high, keep believing in what we're doing. We believe in ourselves."
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