Philadelphia – Kansas City
Both clubs have been busy since the Open Cup Quarterfinals, playing three league games each.
Like the Sounders, Kansas City had seen a little dip in form of late, but have gone 1-1-1 since the easy 3-0 Quarterfinal victory against the third tier USL Pro Dayton Dutch Lions. They lost, 1-0, at home against Chicago in the first match after the tournament win, but rebounded this week with a 3-1 victory at Montreal with goals from Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi and Jacob Peterson followed by a scoreless draw at home against Houston.
One storyline of note that sets this match-up apart from its west coast counterpart is interim coach John Hackworth. Philadelphia is in position to become only the third team to reach the US Open Cup Final in the same year in which the team underwent a midseason coaching change. It would be the second consecutive year in which that has occurred with the Chicago Fire having switched from Carlos De Los Cobos to Frank Klopas on May 30, six days after earning qualification through MLS play-in contests. The only previous instance came in 2006 when Frank Yallop replaced Steve Sampson as head coach of the LA Galaxy in June – prior to MLS entering play – and led the Galaxy to a second consecutive Open Cup Final after winning the year before. In comparison, no club has reached MLS Cup after changing coaches.
Hackworth heads into the Open Cup Semifinal facing his first MLS opponent in the tournament after knocking out the third tier USL Pro Harrisburg City Islanders in dominating fashion, 5-2, in the last round in just his second game at the helm. Prior to the Quarterfinal match, the Union lost its first league game under Hackworth, 1-0, to DC United and earned their first league win with a shocking 4-0 result against Kansas City. The match following the Quarterfinal win was a 2-1 league loss at Houston in which Keon Daniel scored their lone goal.
Since then, the Union have posted two more victories, winning 2-1 at Los Angeles and 3-0 at home versus Toronto this week. Jack McInerney and Michael Farfan have played a key role in the hot form with McInerney scoring one goal and setting up two others. Farfan has a goal and three assists.
McInerney also played a huge role in that stunning result three days prior to the Quarterfinal versus Sporting, the only previous meeting this year between the two clubs. McInerney scored the first two goals, kicking things off in the first minute and doubling the advantage three minutes before the break. He set up the third when he was taken down on a breakaway in the box, allowing Lionard Pajoy to score from the spot. Farfan would set up Antoine Hoppenot for the final goal in the 87th.
MLS league play (June 23, 2012 – PPL Park; Chester, PA)
Sporting Kansas City 0:4 Philadelphia Union
KC: Jimmy Nielsen; Julio Cesar (Michael Thomas 64), Seth Sinovic, Lawrence Olum, Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin; Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza (Jacob Peterson 84); Teal Bunbury, Kei Kamara, CJ Sapong (Soony Saad 74)
PHI: Zac MacMath; Carlos Valdes, Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan; Freddy Adu (Antoine Hoppenot 59), Michael Lahoud, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan; Jack McInerney (Keon Daniel 73), Lionard Pajoy
PHILADELPHIA UNION — OUT: FW Chandler Hoffman (L big toe fracture); FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); DOUBTFUL: DF Bakary Soumare (R knee meniscus recovery); QUESTIONABLE: DF Ray Gaddis (R shoulder contusion); PROBABLE: DF Carlos Valdes (R knee contusion); GK Zac MacMath (R ring finger avulsion)
SPORTING KANSAS CITY — OUT: DF Cyprian Hedrick (L fibula fracture); GK Jon Kempin (R ankle fracture); DF Lawrence Olum (L groin strain); PROBABLE: FW Bobby Convey (L calf strain)
Seattle – Chivas
Recent activity since the Quarterfinals could not be any more different the two clubs. Chivas USA comes into the match well-rested having played only once since their dramatic 2-1 stoppage time victory against the third tier Charlotte Eagles of USL Pro. Meanwhile the Sounders have played three times. Both, however, come into the match with four-game unbeaten streaks in all competitions.
Seattle’s three-game stint saw a winless stretch hit nine games before they finally broke through Saturday with a 2-1 victory at home against the Colorado Rapids with goals from Alvaro Fernandez and Eddie Johnson in a three-goal second half. They played to a scoreless draw on the road Wednesday against Real Salt Lake. The weekend prior the Sounders thought they finally had put to an end their winless run, rallying past an early Revolution goal in New England with two from Johnson before the break only to see Diego Fagundez spoil things with a tally four minutes into stoppage time for a 2-2 draw.
Chivas USA’s lone contest was a lackluster scoreless affair at home Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps, marking the second consecutive stalemate having played to the same result in Dallas prior to their quarterfinal win.
Seattle and Chivas USA met and played to a 1-1 draw May 26 this season. James Riley scored in the 57th minute to give the home side the lead at the Home Depot Center only to have the Sounders equalize four minutes later through David Estrada, who is currently out injured for Seattle.
MLS league play (May 26, 2012 – Home Depot Center; Carson, CA)
Seattle Sounders 1:1 Chivas USA
CHV: Dan Kennedy; James Riley, Danny Califf, Ante Jazic, John Valencia (Rauwshan McKenzie 66); Ryan Smith (Cesar Romero 88 ), Peter Vagenas, Laurent Coutois; Jose Correa (Blair Gavin 76), Alejandro Moreno, Juan Agudelo
SEA: Bryan Meredith; Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Andy Rose, Zach Scott; Brad Evans, Mauro Rosales, Alvaro Fernandez (Alex Caskey 61); David Estrada (Cordell Cato 78 ), Fredy Montero (Eddie Johnson 73)
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC — OUT: GK Andrew Weber (R adductor strain); FW Babayele Sodade (R knee ACL tear); FW David Estrada (L foot fracture); QUESTIONABLE: MF Steve Zakuani (R leg fracture); GK Michael Gspurning (R hip strain); PROBABLE: DF Adam Johansson (R hamstring strain)
CHIVAS USA — OUT: MF Marvin Iraheta (L knee ACL); DOUBTFUL: FW Juan Agudelo (L knee); PROBABLE: DF Ante Jazic (L groin strain); FW Tristen Bowen (R ankle sprain); MF Miller Bolaños (L hamstring strain)