By ALAN HAINKEL
KANSAS CITY, Kan.–If you believe in such things, the Philadelphia Union were handed a sign of how things would proceed just before kickoff at Sporting Park on Friday night.
The microphone for national anthem singer Dr. Cameron Smith was dead, but unlike Smith, Sporting Kansas City was unable to be rescued by the capacity crowd. The Union came away with a 1-0 victory at Sporting Park on Friday night in front of 19,243 fans.
Sporting KC out-shot Philadelphia 17-7, but were only able to direct four of those shots on frame. They also dominated possession 61-39 in the first half, but had nothing to show for it.
The first shot to make it on frame came from Benny Feilhaber in the 14th minute. Feilhaber drew a foul from midfielder Michael Lahoud just outside the penalty area. Lahoud might have been lucky to not draw a booking as it looked like he had ridden Feilhaber to the ground. Feilhaber took the free kick and went for goal, but Zac MacMath with the nice save to keep the game scoreless.
The Union got the only goal of the match in the 36th minute from Conor Casey on a counter attack. Lahoud sprung Danny Cruz down the right wing, who was given enough space to get by Sporting KC defender Ike Opara and cross into the middle. The Union’s Michael Farfan eventually put a shot on goal that was parried away but Casey was in the perfect position to slam the ball in for a goal and give the visitors a stunning 1-0 lead.
After the halftime interval, Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes tried to influence the game and give his team a spark with Soony Saad’s introduction for Jacob Peterson and later in the 66th minute bringing on leading goal scorer Claudio Bieler.
The Union though continued to play physical defense and after a couple of early mistakes, Amobi Okugo and Jeff Parke tightened up the backline. The high pressure used by the Union was also putting Sporting KC off their game, and they seemed to lack a game changed.
Graham Zusi, playing deeper in the midfield instead of on the wings, still had 20 crosses but none were able to find the target after a header in the box.
Here are the game highlights: