Union-Sporting Kansas City Preview

The Associated Press

Sporting Kansas City has lost twice in its last 18 home games - both times to the Philadelphia Union.

Kansas City can avenge those defeats Friday night, although it will be without the suspended Matt Besler as it seeks a fifth straight victory.

Philadelphia (5-8-8) hasn't played a league match since a 1-1 draw at Chicago on July 19. The Union are making their second trip of the year to Kansas City after winning 2-1 on May 14.

Sporting Kansas City (11-5-5) is 10-2-6 in its previous 18 at home, also falling 1-0 to the Union on Sept. 27.

"It's always tough to play a team of KC's caliber twice and to beat 'em at their place twice is going to be tough because they have one of the greatest atmospheres in MLS, they got one of the best teams in MLS but we feel confident because we've done it the last two times we've been there and hopefully we can do it again," Union defender Amobi Okugo said.

Kansas City won't have Besler, who drew two yellow cards in Saturday's 2-1 victory at Toronto FC. He had started his last four games since returning from the World Cup.

Making matters worse is that left back Seth Sinovic is questionable with a right groin strained suffered last weekend.

The club also won't have defensive midfielder Lawrence Olum, who is with Kenya on international duty.

"It's at a very inopportune time," coach Peter Vermes told Kansas City's official website. "From that point of view, it doesn't help us at all. I don't like it."

The Union also have an African player unavailable since midfielder Michael Lahoud is with Sierra Leone.

Philadelphia doesn't expect any absences to deter from the level of performance by the defending MLS Cup champions, who last won five in a row when they began 2012 with seven victories.

"They're a resilient team," Union defender Raymon Gaddis said. "They've had three wins with 10 men or less so you know they are capable of winning in any circumstances."

Kansas City star Dom Dwyer has gone three straight matches without adding to his 14 goals, which ties him for second in the league with Erick Torres of Chivas USA. Dwyer has mustered one shot on goal in his drought.

Dwyer usually finds himself in the center of the action. He is second in the league with 42 fouls committed and fifth in fouls suffered at 46.

Kansas City's bruising style has resulted in a league-high 306 fouls while it has suffered 323 for the second-highest total in MLS.

It could add up to a feisty affair since Kansas City and Philadelphia have each had five players sent off to tie for third in the league.

Philadelphia made a major acquisition Wednesday by signing goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi, who starred with Algeria in the World Cup. It's not clear when he will play.

Current No. 1 goalkeeper Zac MacMath has started all 21 games. His save percentage of 62 ranks him 24th according to the league's official website.

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