Philadelphia Union vs Sporting Kansas City: Betting preview, predictions & more

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

If you’ve at all forgotten what it’s like to support an MLS club competing across multiple competitions, the last week and some change following the Philadelphia Union‘s start to the season will have reminded you just how daunting it can be for fans and teams. After 3 come-from-behind games in 7 days to kick off the 2024 campaign, Union’s busy schedule now leads them to Sporting Kansas City for their 4th of 5 contests in the first 2 weeks.

Philadelphia Union vs Sporting Kansas City: How to watch

When: Saturday, March 2nd, 8:30PM EST
Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City
How: MLS Season Pass, Apple TV

Philadelphia Union vs Sporting Kansas City: Betting odds

Sporting Kansas City +110 | Philadelphia Union +230 | Draw +240

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A look back at 2023

Sporting Kansas City’s 2023 was one of the biggest Rollercoaster seasons I can remember. After starting the year winless in their first 10, SKC would ultimately go on a good-enough run to qualify for the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs with a record of 12W-14L-8D for 44 points. After beating San Jose on penalties and advancing to the Round of 16 best-of-3 series, they then knocked off the #1 seed in the West, St Louis City SC after beating them 4-1 and 2-1 across the first 2 games. Their run would come to an end after a 1-0 loss to Houston Dynamo in the Conference Semi-Finals.

Despite their disastrous start to the 2023 season, head coach Peter Vermes was able to right the ship on the back of a core group of attacking players – Erik Thommy(5G, 11), Johnny Russell(8G, 3A), Daniel Salloi(7G, 9A), and Alan Pulido(14G, 3A), who once again make up the attack for Sporting Kansas City in 2024.

During the off-eason we saw SKC make a few moves to freshen up the squad that’s at Vermes’ disposal, with the club moving on from the likes of Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Cam Duke, and Gadi Kinda. To balance the out-going players, SKC have brought in Left Back Zorhan Bassong, forward Alenis Vargas on loan from Desamparados, and midfielder Memo Rodriguez.

SKC’s Season So Far

Without competing in CONCACAF Champions Cup, Sporting Kansas City should come into the second weekend of the MLS season much more rested than their traveling opposition in Philadelphia Union having played just 1 game thus far. SKC kicked off their season with a 1-1 draw on the road against Houston Dynamo, another team competing in the Champions Cup.

Against the run of play, It was a fantastic solo effort from Erik Thommy in the 61st minute that broke the deadlock down in Texas. But less than 10 minutes later, Houston’s Gabriel Segal headed home a ball sent to the back-post to draw Dynamo level and ultimately split the points between the two sides.

Mandatory Credit: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire

We saw SKC lineup in a pretty predictable way on the opening night of the MLS season – no real surprises from Peter Vermes in his 15th season with the club. A 4-3-3 formation with Tim Melia in net and a backline of Tim Liebold, Andreu Fontas, Daniel Rosero, and Jacob Davis. Nemanja Radoja and Remi Walter in the double pivot in the mid-field, with Erik Thommy, Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell, and Alan Pulido fronting the attack.

Union’s Start to the Season

Union have had a bit of a busier start to the season than SKC with 3 games after just a week. We’re already starting to see some positives Union can build on for the rest of the season, as well as some things they’ll want to clean up before they become bad habits.

A 3-2 win on the road against Saprissa, a stoppage time equalizer against Chicago on the opening night of MLS, and a back-and-forth 3-3 draw against Saprissa in the 2nd Leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup, which would ultimately see Union advance on a 6-5 aggregate score.

It’s been a whirlwind of a start for the Blue and Gold with a few consistent notes so far – Union have conceded the first goal in all 3 matches, which means they have also come from behind to get a result in all 3 matches as well. A big piece to that puzzle has been the emergence of 19-year-old Quinn Sullivan. 2 Key passes that led to the 2nd and 3rd goal against Saprissa in Leg 1, an assist against Chicago for Mikael Uhre’s equalizing goal, and a goal and an assist in Leg 2 against Saprissa. After receiving tons of praise from Jim Curtin for his efforts and motivation during pre-season, no one has started the 2024 season hotter than the Union homegrown Quinn Sullivan.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union vs Sporting Kansas City: Predictions

Surely, Jim Curtin will have had a plan for how he wanted to rotate the squad with both SKC and the CONCACAF Champions Cup running congruently. But that likely was blown up on Tuesday night due to a 120-minute Extra Time showdown that saw both Jack Elliott and Damion Lowe get suspended for the opening Leg of the Champions Cup in the Round of 16 against CF Pachuca. Because of their unavailability on Tuesday night, we can guess that we’ll likely see the pair play together on Saturday night in MLS play, where they are available for selection.

We’ll hear from Jim Curtin today in regards to Andre Blake but it’s pretty simple. If Andre says he’s good to go, he’ll go. If there’s any doubt what-so-ever that Andre is back to 100%, they’ll likely stick with Oliver Semmle in net and save Andre for Pachuca at Subaru Park on Tuesday night.

Without hearing Jim Curtin’s press conference yet, here’s my best guess at Union’s Starting XI to face Sporting Kansas City on the road

GK: Andre Blake
Defense: LB: Kai Wagner, CB: Damion Lowe, CB: Jack Elliott, RB: Olivier Mbaizo
Midfield: CDM: Jesus Bueno, LCM: Jack McGlynn, RCM: Ale Bedoya, CAM: Daniel Gazdag
Forwards: Chris Donovan, Julian Carranza

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Truthfully, this feels like a tough result for Union to get come Saturday night. With the fixture congestion and the upcoming suspensions to work around, we’ll likely see some more rotation on the road against SKC.

Sporting Kansas City, like many MLS teams, play much better at home than on the road, achieving 29 of their 44 points at Children’s Mercy Park in 2023. They’ll want to get their home form off to a good start this season after starting 2023 so poor, so I’d expect an SKC team that comes out motivated to impress the home crowd.

I always want to see Union win, but if they go into SKC and grind out a draw this weekend, I’m heading back to Subaru Park with a smile on my face. Win at home, draw on the road – the trusted recipe for success. I’m looking for a 1-1 result on the road this weekend before they move on to Pachuca on Tuesday night.

We’re fully back in the swing of things now, and there’s no slowing down in sight! Whether it’s MLS or CONCACAF action, Philly Sports Network will have you covered will all things Union all season long.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union