October 23, 2012
A look at the upcoming game
Philadelphia Union (10-16-6, 36 pts)@ Sporting Kansas City (17-7-9, 60 pts), 7:30 pm CT (NBCSN)
The Philadelphia Union are going nowhere but home after the MLS regular season wraps up this weekend, but they could leave their mark on the Eastern Conference playoffs when they visit Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night. A Union win would open the door for DC United to snatch the top playoff seed in the conference with a win of their own on Saturday. A home-team draw or win would lock up first place in the conference for Sporting. Philadelphia handed Sporting KC their worst defeat of the season, a 4-0 spanking June 23 at PPL Park. Jack McInerney scored twice in that match, and has been hot down the stretch for Philly, extending his scoring streak to a team-record four games in last weekend’s 3-1 loss to Houston. Despite the midsummer letdown in Chester, defense has been Sporting’s strong suit this season. They have surrendered a league-low 26 goals, and goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen is poised to tie Tony Meola’s single-season league record of 16 shutouts if he can keep Philadelphia off the board on Wednesday. Nielsen stood on his head to keep a clean sheet in last weekend’s scoreless tie against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena, but Sporting’s effort also drew postgame praise from Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill, who praised their solid team defending. Nielsen and Sporting are unbeaten in 11 games, and have allowed only one goal in their last five games.