Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. L.A. Galaxy

Photo: Debbie von Winckelmann/Prost Amerika

Who: Philadelphia Union (7th place, 24 points, 7-9-3) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (6th place, 28 points, 8-7-4)
What: 2017 regular season game
Where: Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, PA
When: Saturday, July 21 at 7 pm
Watch: ESPN+, PHL17
Whistle: Nima Saghafi; Logan Brown, Brian Dunn; Alejandro Mariscal; Alex Chilowicz

Get ready, Philly. Zlatan is coming to the City of Brotherly Love.

And it seems he’ll be bringing fans to Talen Energy Stadium with him. Philadelphia Union are expecting their largest home attendance of the season this Saturday when they host Los Angeles Galaxy.

Those fans will be hoping to see the Union’s first home victory in MLS play since Sebastian Le Toux’s introduction to the Ring of Honor on June 23. That win propelled Philadelphia ever so briefly into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Right after that win, the Union lost consecutive games before rebounding last week with a ridiculous 4-3 win in Chicago.

The Galaxy had their own bonkers match last week in New England. Down a goal entering stoppage time, L.A. scored twice to steal three points from the Revolution. It continued a resurgence that has the Galaxy now sitting in the playoff picture.

Scouting Report: LA Galaxy

Earlier in the season, the Galaxy seemed left for dead.

Ibrahimovic’s first game in the City of Angels was the inaugural derby with L.A.F.C. He alone propelled them to a come from behind 4-3 win.

But shortly after, the wheels began to halt. On May 12, the Galaxy lost 3-2 against F.C. Dallas. It was their fourth consecutive defeat. It seemed a singular superstar, no matter how grand, couldn’t save their season.

Yet in the nine games since, Los Angeles have lost only once. And it’s been about more than just Zlatan. In their last five games, the Galaxy have scored three, three, four, two, and three goals, respectively.

Sure, Ibrahimovic had six goals in those five games, but focusing solely on him would be to ignore L.A.’s other lethal attackers.

Since joining MLS last year, winger Romain Alessandrini has been one of the league’s best. Their second most prolific player has three goals in that five game time span. If that wasn’t enough, the Galaxy also added a forward who scored 34 goals in two seasons with Columbus Crew: Ola Kamara.

There’s also a familiar name who scored three goals in his last three games, including the winner last weekend. Winger Chris Pontius returns to Philadelphia displaying the same form that earned him the 2016 Comeback Player of the Year award.

There are a lot of reasons to fear the Galaxy, and that’s without mentions players like Ema Boateng and the Dos Santos brothers.

At least for the Union, L.A. will be without two key cogs. Both left back Ashley Cole and midfield stalwart Perry Kitchen will be suspended for Saturday’s game.

  • Injury report: OUT: Rolph Feltscher (D, shoulder surgery); QUESTIONABLE: Sebastian Lletget (M, ankle injury)
  • Suspended: Perry Kitchen (M, yellow card accumulation), Ashley Cole (D, red card)
  • International duty: None.
Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

While the Union’s crazy win over the Fire was fun to watch, their midweek game was the much better performance.

On Wednesday night they coolly saw out a 1-0 win over Orlando City in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal clash. A fourth minute goal from captain Alejandro Bedoya was all the Union needed. It was impressive to watch the Union defense shut down a team chasing the game for 90 minutes. The visitors never looked likely to scoring.

That’s exactly what head coach Jim Curtin needed to see after a recent run of poor defending. The Union had allowed two or more goals in four of their last five league games.

Curtin will likely run out a similar lineup as he did Wednesday. With his regular starters resting during the friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt last Saturday, tired legs shouldn’t be an issue.

There are still questions to answer. While the back line and midfield trio are set in stone, will forward Cory Burke get another start ahead of a struggling C.J. Sapong? Will winger David Accam get another chance after a middling performance, or will Curtin turn to Marcus Epps or a healthy Ilsinho?

Whoever the coach chooses, it’s likely they’ll need to score to keep up with the Galaxy’s attack.

  • Injury report: QUESTIONABLE: Joshua Yaro (D, concussion)
  • Suspended: None.
  • International duty: None.
Key matchup and player to watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs. Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty

Who else is there to watch than the man who calls himself a god.

And Ibrahimovic has been godlike since gracing MLS. The 36-year-old has played like a man ten years his junior, showing no wear from lifting trophies all across Europe. He’s scored an astonishing 11 goals in just 973 minutes.

The Union hope the answer to stopping the Swede is two kids who weren’t even born when Zlatan began scoring the first of his 432 career goals.

Teenage center backs Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty, like Kratos, will go to war with a god Saturday night. Trusty has the physical tools to match Ibrahimovic in the air. McKenzie, though, is coming off his best professional performance. He was magnificent in shutting down Orlando City’s Dom Dwyer, one of the league’s best forwards, in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.

For better or worse, Philadelphia’s youngsters will have a story to tell their grandchildren after this one.

Prediction: Philadelphia Union 3-2 L.A. Galaxy

The Union were able to see out a low scoring win Wednesday night. Saturday’s game should be anything but. Despite solid play, the Galaxy have allowed two goals or more in three of their last four games. Conversely, the Union have done the same in four of their last five league games. Fireworks should come, and the Union get the nod in front of a packed home stadium.

9 Comments

  1. what’s it say that this is the highest attended game of the season? stars pack ’em in. should be a good time.
    can’t blame the weather as a deterrent: it’ll be raining. if we were to host open cup final again, it’ll be half this crowd.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Hey Sugarman… take notice. You could have a filled or almost filled house every night if you splash the cash for a big name striker… oh and adding that striker to this roster would give you SERIOUS team too.

  2. I’m happy for the sellout at Talen. Unfortunately we all know that it is not for the home team. It’s to see a world class player. Why ? Because the ownership, management and coach treat this top sports and media market like a 2nd rate out post. I’m glad Burke is starting because he should. However you need to show this fan base that you are worth selling out Talen on a regular bases. Bring in a name striker who is a deference maker and stop being such perennial league bottom feeders. You want to score more? Get a scorer!

  3. I’m happy for the sellout at Talen. Unfortunately we all know that it is not for the home team. It’s to see a world class player. Why ? Because the ownership, management and coach treat this top sports and media market like a 2nd rate out post. I’m glad Burke is starting because he should be. However you need to show this fan base that you are worth selling out Talen on a regular bases. Bring in a name striker who is a deference maker and stop being such perennial league bottom feeders. You want to score more? Get a scorer!

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    I don’t have much confidence for Saturday. We could easily be looking at another Atlanta situation where the Union have the bulk of the opportunities and waste them before LA capitalizes on theirs, especially if Satan Ibrahimovic gets some friendly calls.

    • we’re gonna get killed like past Galaxy matches. i’ve no doubt. i went Wednesday to support the Cup run. this one is purely for the spectacle.

      • One of the best Galaxy teams to come here drew the Union 2-2 in a match where both teams played excellently (2016, I think).

  5. pragmatist says:

    If the Union can actually finish off the chances that will surely be created, then yes, a win is possible/likely. But this won’t be a 1-0 or 1 -1 game. The goals will be required. I have faith in every aspect of this team except for the finishing. (Not faith like, “I think they are the best in the league,” or anything, just very capable and professional-like.)
    .
    Score 3 and hopefully we’ll be fine. Let’s see if we can take advantage of opportunities.

  6. Zlatan will rise

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