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MLS Preview: Sporting Kansas City - Philadelphia Union

Goal.com

The pressure is beginning to build on John Hackworth as he takes his Philadelphia Union team into the lion's den that is SPorting Park to face reigning MLS Cup champion Kansas City (8:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE).

Philadelphia, despite a number of expensive offseason acquisitions, is struggling mightily and hasn't won a game since its 1-0 victory over New England on Mar. 15, a run of nine matches. What's more, that win remains the Union's only maximum-points haul in 2014, and they now sit ninth in the 10-team Eastern Conference and are 18th out of 19 in the Supporters' Shield standings. Only a dismal Montreal Impact side - which beat Philadelphia last month - prevents them from leading the race for the wooden spoon.

Kansas City meanwhile, sits atop the East with a strong 5-2-2 record. It has the stingiest defense in Major League Soccer, tied with the LA Galaxy with just six goals conceded - and Sporting has played two more games than LA. Coming into this game, Sporting has won three of its last four matches.

The Union isn't completely without hope, however. They picked up a surprise win on their last visit to Kansas last September, with Conor Casey's 36th-minute goal enough for a 1-0 win. Sporting got revenge though: the eventual MLS Cup winner won 2-1 at PPL a month later.

The Union could be missing Danny Cruz, listed as questionable last week with a foot contusion.

Kansas City faces a much longer injury list. Peterson Joseph (illness) and Ike Opara (R ankle surgery) were listed as out in a May 9 injury report, while C.J. Sapong (neck strain), Sal Zizzo (L groin strain) and Erik Palmer-Brown (sesamoiditis, R foot) were questionable.

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