Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union v. Orlando City SC

Photo by Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (9th place, 39 points, 10-9-14) vs. Orlando City SC (10th place, 39 points, 10-9-14)
What: 2017 regular season game
Where: Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, Pa.
When: Sunday, October 22 at 4 pm
Watch: 6ABC
Whistle: Joseph Dickerson, Kermit Quisenberry, Claudiu Badea, Mark Geiger

“At the end of the day, life is about being happy being who you are, and I feel like we are so blessed to have the support system and the best family to really just support each other, no matter what we’re going through.” – Kim Kardashian

Union fans, committed readers of the Philly Soccer Page, from the bottom of our collective hearts: thank you for your passion, your insights, and your continued support of this site. Despite another year of Union futility, it is you, “being who you are… the best family to really just support each other,” that has kept us going.

Sunday marks the final act in this flop of a film, as your Philadelphia Union take on Orlando City SC. The list of biggest cinematic bombs of all time is topped by recent classics like “The 13th Warrior” and “47 Ronin.” Don’t remember them? It’s clear that few fans will remember 2017, either.

The Union didn’t outspend their opponents, though, so here’s a better analogy.

In 2017, the Union and their Sunday opponents are Thelma and Louise.

Scouting report: Orlando City SC

Orlando City have a talented team, particularly down the middle where Jonathan Spector, Will Johnson, Antonio Nocerino, and Kaka can be found. Up top, Cyle Larin missed the team’s last match with a minor injury. He will likely return, however, and join Dom Dwyer in the attack. Otherwise, expect an appearance by former Houston Dynamo protagonist, Giles Barnes. In any case, this match could be the final MLS appearance of both Kaka and Larin, something worth watching irrespective of the team’s place in the table.

In a diamond-shaped 4-4-2, the Lions will win the match if they can stay compact and pounce on their chances. This has worked for quite a few Union opponents in 2017: staying tight, forcing turnovers, quickly switching the ball, and forcing the Boys in Blue to chase and lose their shape. Once that shape is compromised, the Union are often slow to recover and become eminently vulnerable.

This is not rocket science.

  • Injury report: OUT – Josh Saunder (GK), Cristian Higuita (M)
  • Suspended: None
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

It will be interesting to see what the mood of Talen Energy Stadium is around 6:00pm this Sunday. Perhaps it will be anger, perhaps sadness, or perhaps the stadium will be all but empty and a pall of apathetic silence will fill the bowl. There is likely little raw emotion left in a fan base that has been grieving over this inevitable outcome for months. Regardless of the score of the match, the final kick of the season will be one of disappointment in all phases for the team. Beyond that, it will certainly be the final time many of these players put on the Blue and Gold shirt.

The Union will play their standard formation, a 4-2-3-1. Filling the spots will be same cast of short-term characters trotted out all season, with little mind toward vetting additional skills or developing younger players. Perhaps Brian Carroll will make his 2017 first team debut.

  • Injury report: OUT – Ken Tribbett (D), Maurice Edu (M), Fabian Herbers (M), QUESTIONABLE – Warren Creavalle (M), Josh Yaro (D)
  • Suspended: None
Key matchup

Cyle Larin and Dom Dwyer v. The Union defense

Two of the most dynamic scorers in MLS are Larin and Dwyer. Though the team has only won twice since the latter’s arrival at the end of July, both players will give the Union back line fits with their strength, but more significantly with their movement.

Considering Jack Elliott’s rough outing last week and the week before, in addition to the otherwise inconsistent play of whomever has been slotted in next to him all season, Sunday’s match will likely be an adventure.

Player to watch

C.J. Sapong 

For most of the Union’s existence as a franchise, the underachieving team was led by talisman, Sebastien Le Toux. He played within himself as often as he could, tirelessly engaged with his fans, and earned every inch of the many records he set for the club. C.J. Sapong may have inherited that mantle for the first two of those characteristics and has a chance Sunday to add the third to his list of achievements: a goal for Sapong would give him the outright Union record for goals in a season.

Prediction: Philadelphia 0-0 Orlando City SC

Nothing would encapsulate the season more succinctly than a drab and scoreless draw.

 

7 Comments

  1. A far cry from the previous matchup between the two teams when the Union went down to Orlando coming off their second draw in a row, one that could have been a win but for a Bedoya missed PK and an Altidore flop in the box. We were all thinking that maybe the Union even had a shot at a road win…
    .
    It was the week before the international break. Remember how worried we all were after the US had started 0-2 in the Hex?
    .
    I know we’ve been calling for the kids to play but given that several of them will be in Louisville Friday night, I’d like to see Brian Carroll go 89 minutes and then be cheered off at the end as he deserves.

    • Brian Carroll has been a rock for this team and deserves to be cheered off. That said I’d like to see him come in for just the last 10. No need slow the team down further all game nor to give the old guy a heart attack.

  2. SaveTheCrew.com #savethecrew
    .
    We need your help. If you believe in the fans of MLS, and what MLS means to the fans, help us show this greedy ‘Mergers & Acquistions Specialist’ Anthony Precourt that he has no place in MLS.
    .
    Ways to help
    Show your solidarity this Sunday by wearing yellow to the game
    Bring signs denouncing Precourt (and Garber who is entirely complicit)
    At minute 10 (Crew was the first of the original 10 teams in MLS) begin a Columbus Crew chant – i.g. clap,clap,clap COLUMBUS
    Anything else that you can do that would show the league that this is not the way to do things in MLS!

    • Seems odd to ask commentators from this site to wear yellow to identify with fans who already lost their team.
      Many here already gave up on union and not too sure many will be at game to wear yellow or would care more than a week if current organization moved to Hawaii….phillies eagles flyers premier league ease that.
      For last 5 years we’ve gone to last game as closest to my one son’s late October birthday. Not this year…he stopped watching union in July.
      Instead we went to Phillies games in August and September…they were fun…knew they couldn’t get out of last but new kids fun to watch…great energy. Lately college soccer more entertaining.
      Am upset about Keegan…shame. I don’t confess to know details but like macmath and Cruz and McLaughlin…it appears to be something fundamentally wrong about team taking young talent to a second or third year.
      Hope Keegan finds success elsewhere…his tweet was clear sign he wants out and who can blame him. Curtin handled whole season poorly and based on that I give Keegan benefit of doubt that he could have done better with a different coach.
      At very least Keegan and his fellow exiles don’t have to wear jerseys with Bimbo on them anymore.
      Maybe after sugarman moves team we can get owners with more business savvy that know not to put something clearly taken as offensive slang on team jerseys.
      Disgustedly yours….UnionGoal

  3. One suspension for the Union…………..

  4. The only thing I’m sad about is that after today I won’t see the people around me for 4-5 months if I decide to renew. I don’t care that BC is playing. I don’t care if we win or lose. I’m just happy we’ll have great weather.

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