Thursday, October 25, 2012

Union fall to Sporting KC

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Philadelphia Union came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit, but a goal in the 83rd minute from C.J. Sapong allowed Sporting Kansas City to take a 2-1 win in its regular season finale and capture the MLS Eastern Conference title.

A blistering goal by Kansas City midfielder Jacob Peterson in the 40th minute allowed Sporting KC to take a 1-0 advantage into halftime but the Union would not go quietly into the night.  Manager John Hackworth went with customary second half substitute, Antoine Hoppenot a little earlier than usual, as the rookie forward entered at halftime. It paid dividends seven minutes later as Hoppenot would score off a penalty kick miss by midfielder Michael Farfan in the 53rd minute. Farfan took the kick after fellow midfielder Danny Cruz was taken down inside the 18-yard-box. Hoppenot pounced on a rebound given up by Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

The cliché is to say “a tale of two halves,” but it truly was in this affair, as the Union took it to Sporting KC in the second half after being dominated in the first. While the final stat sheet showed KC edged the Union in attempts on goal, 14-10, it was the Union at one point that held a 10-9 edge in shots.  Four of those attempts were on goal, including two that hit the lower left post in the 58th minute after a glancing header from forward Jack McInerney nicked the post. Seconds later, Keon Daniel hit the same post in the 59th.

Kansas City (18-7-9, 63 points) will open the Eastern Conference playoffs as the No. 1 seed against a team to be determined on Nov. 7 at LIVESTRONG.

On the flip side, the loss was the second consecutive in less than a week for the Union, who suffered a 1-0 road loss to Houston on Saturday. In addition, the Union (10-17-6, 36 points) fell to 0-2-1 overall at Sporting KC and are 2-2-3 all-time against the club.

The Union will look to end the season on a high note on Saturday when they host the New York Red Bulls at 1:30 p.m. on NBC.

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