Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union v. Swansea City AFC

Photo courtesy Philadelphia Union

Who: Philadelphia Union (8th place, 23 points, 6-7-5) vs. Swansea City AFC (12-21-5, 15th in 2016/17 English Premier League)
What: Friendly
Where: Talen Energy Stadium
When: Saturday July 15 at 7:00 p.m.
Watch: stream

Yes, folks, it’s finally here, the match you’ve had marked on your calendars all year, as Philadelphia Union play annual host to a rebuilding Barclay’s Premier League side. This Saturday, attendees in Chester will see the Union face just-avoided-relegation (aka Bob Bradley’s former) Swansea City AFC.

Possible Swansea lineup.

Scouting report: Swansea City

All joking aside, Swansea was one of the Premier League’s most exciting yet painfully frustrating sides in 2016-17. At times ebullient and fearless, the consistently self-defeating Swans often took top teams to the brink, but let poor defense and game management give away points time and time again.

Despite their struggles, the Swans have some entertaining attackers. At the top of the heap is the ingenious Gylfi Sigurdsson. Sigurdsson singlehandedly saved Swansea City from relegation by having a direct part in nearly half of the team’s tallies with 9 goals and 13 assists.

Whether Gylfi stays with Swansea in 2017-18 is still undecided – transfer rumors are abundant – but either way he alone is enough of a reason to attend Saturday’s match.

Unfortunately, the Swans’ leading scorer Frederico Llorente will not be joining the team on their US vacation due to a broken arm.

Swansea doesn’t seem to be content battling for relegation again, either. The team signed young Chelsea and England U-21 striker Tammy Abraham on loan just this week. Abraham scored a ridiculous 23 goals as a 19-year-old for Bristol City in the Championship last season. This year, he’ll get his shot in the top flight with the Swans and try to prove to his parent club he deserves a shot at Stamford Bridge. Saturday may hold Abraham’s debut with a Premier League team.

  • Injury report: Frederico Llorente (broken arm)
  • Suspended: N/A
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Possible Union lineup.

While Philadelphia Union’s annual mid-summer friendlies may seem a bit pointless, they do serve a valid purpose in marketing the club to an international audience and keeping the Union’s full squad game-fit.

After a tolling last few weeks, Union coach Jim Curtin will likely opt to run out his depth pieces to keep them sharp for the coming MLS summer campaign.

While we all know the team’s tactics won’t change, expect key depth players like Jay Simpson, Fabian Herbers, Roland Alberg, Warren Creavalle, and Marcus Epps to see time, while Haris Medunjanin, C.J. Sapong, and Fafa Picault will (hopefully) earn some much-needed respite.

On defense, Keegan Rosenberry, Josh Yaro, and Richie Marquez should have an opportunity to stay game-ready against Premier League attacking talent.

  • Injury report: Questionable: Fabian Herbers (right adductor partial avulsion), Warren Creavalle (right hamstring strain), Jack Elliott (left tibia contusion)
  • Suspended: N/A
  • International duty: Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius, Andre Blake
Key matchup

Union B defense v. Swansea Attack

The Union reserves will be heavily tested against quality Premier League attackers, no matter their finish in the table last year. With the backline arguably being Philadelphia’s deepest spot on the field, it will be a terrific measuring stick to see how Fabinho, Yaro, Marquez, and Rosenberry – thought in the preseason to be the Union’s starting defense – fare against a quality international opponent.

Player to watch

Gylfi Sigurdsson: This may be Gylfi’s last sojourn in a Swansea shirt, where the Icelander has quietly been one of the Premier League’s most exciting and hardworking players. His talent and quietly remarkable play will likely be rewarded with a transfer this summer, but in the meantime we can all enjoy watching him in Chester on Saturday.

Prediction: Swansea 2-2 Philadelphia

These games are notoriously unpredictable and often bland, but a Swiss cheese Swansea backline and a Union side likely playing reserves should provide an entertaining and high-scoring draw.

Update: Swansea’s official Twitter account just confirmed that Gylfi Sigurdsson will not be traveling with the team to the States so a bit of a bummer there.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    If you’re going to the game, don’t forget the Union are accepting teddy bear donations for the city of Chester’s first responders.

  2. No Gylfi? There goes the best draw to this match. I have nothing against the Swans, but almost any other PL team would probably have drawn better. Of course, I suppose you have to take the teams willing to come over and play in the Philly area.

  3. Old Soccer Coach says:

    If Anthony Fontana gets a runout for the second half, it would be worth going to see how he does in his first-team debut. (See Nick Fishman’s report of Jim Curtin’s press conferences in another of today’s stories.)

  4. Brian Craig Ray says:

    Keep an eye on Abraham. He’ll be in Chelsea starting 11 in the very near future. Special talent.

  5. The biggest draw is the coach. He is very special and could become one of the best. Looking forward to see how he coaches the team on Friday during open practice at Penn from 5-7.

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