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Sporting Kansas City visits PPL Park on Saturday for the club's final regular season match of 2013, with the Supporters' Shield in reach.
A victory over Philadelphia combined with a New York Red Bulls draw or loss on Sunday will see Sporting KC secure the shield for the first time since 2000. Saturday's match will be nationally televised on the NBC Sports Network with coverage beginning at 2 p.m.
Sporting KC sits in second place in the Eastern Conference and has clinched a top two seed in the East to guarantee home-field advantage for the conference semifinals. The Philadelphia Union must win on Saturday to remain in postseason contention, then await the outcomes of Sunday's matches to secure a playoff berth.
Saturday marks the second meeting between Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union in a one-month span and the third encounter of 2013, with each team securing one victory in the season series to date.
Sporting KC defeated the Union on March 2 at PPL Park in the opening match of the 2013 MLS season then dropped a 1-0 decision at Sporting Park on Sept. 27.
U.S. Men's National Team playmaker Graham Zusi contributed to all three goals for Sporting Kansas City's win in March, including scoring the equalizer and assisting on the game-winning goal. Zusi leads all MLS players with five game-winning assists and currently sits atop Sporting KC's assist chart this season with eight.
Sebastien Le Toux is tied with Portland's Diego Valeri for most assists in MLS this season with 12. The Frenchman also ranks third on Philadelphia's roster for goals scored this year with three, including the Union's lone goal in the 3-1 loss against Sporting KC in March.
Philadelphia captain Brian Carroll received a yellow card in the Union's 2-1 loss to the Montreal Impact last weekend and will serve a one game suspension on Saturday, snapping a streak of 59 consecutive starts for Carroll dating back to 2012. The holding midfielder surpassed Le Toux's club record of 58 consecutive starts for Philadelphia and the streak is second longest among active field players in MLS.
Sporting KC defeated D.C. United 1-0 in their last MLS outing. The shutout was Jimmy Nielsen's 13th of the season, fourth most in a campaign in MLS history, and continues a stretch of 324 minutes without allowing a goal in MLS competition. Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath has recorded 12 shutouts this year and both goalkeepers have played every minute of every match for their respective clubs this season.
Nielsen's 0.88 goals against average this season ranks first among MLS goalkeepers with more than 1,000 minutes played in 2013 and his 0.99 career goals against average all-time is first in MLS history.
- Story from Sporting KC