Last night's result in the only midweek game of this round showed why picking winners in MLS matches this season is so difficult. Sporting Kansas City, the defending MLS Cup champions, and current leader in the Eastern Conference hosted a struggling Philadelphia Union side boasting a 1-5-5 record coming into the game. One would expect this to be a no-brainer win for SKC, right?
Not so fast. The Union took advantage of a completely flat KC team and rode an 81st minute Cristian Madiana goal to a victory over Sporting on their own turf. Despite holding a 66-34 advantage in possession, SKC's usually stout defense allowed the visitors a 7-6 lead in shots on goal. The uncharacteristically lax defensive outing could see a continuation this coming Sunday when they face the Fire at Toyota Park. Sporting lost Aurelien Collin to an apparent hamstring injury in the 61st minute and the French defender told reporters after the match he could miss a couple of weeks. Add that to the fact that his center back partner, Matt Besler will also be missing for SKC this weekend and Peter Vermes suddenly has some big issues to contend with.
Besler is off to join the USMNT in California for World Cup training camp as is talismanic playmaker Graham Zusi. The Fire will apparently have the benefit of facing the best team in the East without both starting center backs and their best offensive weapon.
Are the Fire catching Sporting at the right time? Can the porous Chicago defense contain an SKC side that has had issues in the final third from time to time and should be easier to defend without the danger of Zusi's crosses into the penalty area?
Maybe fortune is starting to turn in the Fire's favor after two months of missed chances. Another opportunity awaits on Sunday.