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Questions with the Enemy: Sporting KC vs. Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Union come to town on Saturday, so let’s ask some experts about their team and get the low down on this weekend’s opponent.



Credit: Sporting Kansas City

Sporting Kansas City face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday in SKC’s home opener. It felt like a good opportunity to collaborate with our sister site, and learn a little about each other’s teams. We asked them some questions, and they answered a few questions that our associate editor, Chad Smith, asked them.

1. Philly have been dealing with CCC on top of the start of the MLS season. How is the team holding up physically and will fatigue be a factor on Saturday?

Fatigue could be a factor, but it’s still pretty early in the season. Had the second leg against Saprissa only been a 90-minute affair, I’d say there aren’t many concerns. The team looked healthy against Chicago after coming off a short week, and then looked pretty sharp a few days later against Saprissa. When the Union gave up goals, it didn’t seem to be a fatigue issue.

However, with the extra 30 minutes to play at the end of the Saprissa match, that game may have taken a toll on some players. The five-day rest will be crucial, but the Union also plays Pachuca right after SKC. Between accounting for how players feel now and how they will feel Wednesday morning, I’d expect a fair amount of rotation from Jim Curtin.

2. Peter Vermes and Jim Curtin are the two most tenured coaches in MLS right now. There is a subset of Sporting KC fans that always want Vermes fired. Is that true in Philadelphia and how do you feel about Curtin?

Curtin’s pretty well liked in Philadelphia. He’s cursed with poor/cheap roster building from the abnormally thin pockets of owner Jay Sugarcane, and he’s still taken the team to an MLS Cup Final, a Supporter’s Shield, two Eastern Conference finals, etc. over the past few years.

Philadelphia fans are notable for being quick to call for coaching changes (see: Doug Pederson and Nick Sirriani). But I think that 2022 run was special enough, and Union fans are tame enough, that run will give him a few years of grace. I don’t think there’s a serious conversation about Curtin’s contract for a few years, at best.

3. It’s still super early in the 2024 season, but Quinn Sullivan looks like a breakout player. Are there any other players or tactics KC fans should be looking out for?

Sullivan’s been outstanding. I know this question was about other players, but it just has to be said what a revelation he’s been. Sullivan looking like a midseason transfer was not on my bingo card.

I’d also look at forward Julian Carranza as a talent. He’s on the lists of a few clubs abroad as a transfer prospect, and he’s played like it as well. He’s creative, noticeably good on defense for a forward, and has a pretty good shot.

Also, watch Oliver Semmle, if he’s on the field. He’s replacing an injured Andre Blake, meaning he’s got the worst job in the entire country right now. Still, Semmle’s stepped up. The Union signed him from the USL Championship this past offseason, and he’s looked really good. The Union have had a trend of having backup goalkeepers who could start on other rosters, and Semmle looks like he could be the next guy to fit that bill.

Go read Philadelphia Soccer Now’s Answers to Our Questions

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