Thursday night brings the first quarterfinal in the MLS Is Back Tournament in Orlando as Sporting KC faces Philadelphia Union on the left side of the bracket. The winner advances to an August 5 semifinal against either NYCFC or Portland Timbers. Sporting has back-to-back shutouts and won the round of 16 game in a penalty shootout while the Union has allowed just two goals in four games in this tournament.
Last season in Sporting KC got a home-opener 2-0 win with an Ilie penalty kick and an own goal as the Union finished with 10 players. In 2018 the Union won at home 2-0, and the teams drew 1-1 in 2017. Over the last five seasons, Philadelphia has two wins, Sporting KC has one and the teams have two 1-1 draws.
Sporting KC Outlook: Finish
Sporting KC did everything except finish in front of goal in the round of 16 game against Vancouver on Sunday. They amassed 35 shots, had over 60% possession and connected on over 80% of their passes but couldn’t score. In the penalty shootout, Tim Melia saw one Whitecaps shot hit the post before he made two saves while his offense converted on three of four shots to win the shootout 3-1.
In Group D play Sporting started slowly with a 2-1 loss to Minnesota United as Khiry Shelton scored. In the second game, they beat Colorado Rapids 3-2 with goals from Shelton, Alan Pulido and the added-time game-winner from Graham Zusi. They beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 to win the group as Johnny Russell scored in the first minute, and Gerso Fernandes scored in the 86th.
Philadelphia Union Outlook: Strong Defense
It took the Union a little while to get going against New England Revolution on Saturday night. When they did, they controlled more than 50% of the possession and won 1-0 as Sergio Santos scored in the 63rd minute on an assist from Jamiro Monteiro. Andre Blake made five saves, including a couple late to ensure Philadelphia moved on.
The Union finished second in Group A behind Orlando City with two wins and a draw. They knocked off NYCF 1-0 with a goal from captain Ale Bedoya and then beat Inter Miami FC 2-1 as Kai Wagner, and Kacper Przybylko scored. In the final group game, Ilsinho scored in the 68th minute, but two minutes later, Orlando City tied the game and won the group.
Sporting KC/Philadelphia Union Betting Lines
Sporting KC +110 to win
Philadelphia Union +211 to win
Over/Under 3 goals (O -104, U -126)
Philadelphia started the tournament at +2500 to win it all and enter the quarterfinals at +500. Sporting KC already rewarded backers by winning Group D at +185 after beginning the tournament +1800. They are now +375 to win it all, the favorites on their side of the bracket, and they should have the firepower to knock off the Union though both goalies are red hot.
FREE PICK: Sporting KC to Win (+110)