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Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. FC Cincinnati

Who: Philadelphia Union (3rd in the east, 14 points, 4-2-3) vs. FC Cincinnati (11th place in the East, 8 points, 2-2-5)

What: 2019 MLS regular season game

Where: Talen Energy Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When: Wednesday May 1st, 7:30 pm

Watch: PHL 17, ESPN + (?)

Playing in their second of three matches in eight days, Philadelphia Union return home to Talen Energy Stadium to face MLS newcomer FC Cincinnati following a road trip in which the Union snagged a point in Vancouver.

It feels like just yesterday that I previewed the first ever matchup between these two teams. Oh, how times have changed.

Cincinnati was the hot new club trending upwards in the eastern conference standings and found themselves in the top half of the table, while Philadelphia was struggling to get themselves out of the gates to begin the season.

Now, the two have flip-flopped in terms of form and order has been restored to the eastern conference standings (with the exception of NY Red Bulls).

The Union enter Wednesday’s match having taken points from six out of their last seven while Cincinnati has dropped three of four and scored just one goal since the two met exactly one month ago in a 2-0 victory for the Union.

It was a thorough victory for Philadelphia that day, but through a series of injuries, it will be a very different looking Union side this time around.

Scouting report: FC Cincinnati 

The wheels have started to fall off for the newest team in the league as of late, and they have begun to play like just that—the newest team in the league.

Like most teams that are built to sit back and play the counter attack, Cincinnati are built from the back. They have a strong corps of big, physical central defenders and one of the most experienced goalkeepers the league has to offer.

What they do lack is a pure goal scoring threat. Fanendo Adi has been left sidelined and will presumably sit out again tonight as he recovers from a left ankle injury, leaving the speedy Darron Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh to fill the void.

If healthy, Adi would be the perfect play against the Union backline of Auston Trusty and Jack Elliott as neither one is overly physical compared to the Nigerian forward.

Potential FC Cincinnati lineup

Where Cincinnati will be a threat will be off of set pieces. Philadelphia was vulnerable from restarts in the last game against Vancouver and there, at times, was miscommunication in the back between the young Matt Freese and his defenders.

It is no secret what central defender Kendall Waston can do from set plays when it comes to heading the ball and that will be something to watch for, particularly as the game rolls on.

Injury report:

Out: M – Jimmy McLaughlin (right ACL)

Questionable: D – Greg Garza (right calf); M – Corben Bone (left shoulder); F – Fanendo Adi (left ankle)

Suspended: None


Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

The U have now entered one of the busy parts of their schedule, and with injuries already beginning to pile up for Jim Curtin, there’s one thing that will be tested: depth.

We are currently watching one of the deepest Union rosters that we have seen in a long time, and it has truly shown in the past few weeks. Kacper Przylbylko embodied the “next man up” mentality by rewarding Curtin’s decision to play him up top over Fafa Picault over the weekend with a goal and solid performance.

Despite Przylbylko’s current run of form, Curtin needs to roll out a speedier lineup to play in between Cincinnati’s larger and less mobile defenders. Expect to see the return of Cory Burke and striking partner Fafa Picault.

Jack Elliott has also been solid when called upon in defense and will need to continue to do so on Wednesday with Mark McKenzie still unfit as he recovers from appendicitis.

In a strange turn of events, it was announced on Tuesday (nine days and one match after the incident) that Kai Wagner will be suspended for another game, leaving room for what I think will be Matt Real over Olivier Mbaizo and Ray Gaddis at right back as per usual.

Potential Union lineup

I think we see David Accam in the starting eleven once again, this time playing deeper as the number 10 in place of Brenden Aaronson. Aaronson’s form has dropped off as of late generally, and I believe he gets the night off and some well deserved rest in a game that the Union should control throughout.

Injury report

OUT: GK – Andre Blake (right adductor); D – Mark McKenzie (appendectomy)

QUESTIONABLE: M – Marco Fabian (left ankle sprain), Anthony Fontana (left ankle sprain), Ilsinho (left hamstring)

Suspended: Kai Wagner

Key matchup: Fafa Picault vs Nick Haaglund

I am sorry to inform you that you will be focused on FC Cincinnati’s Nick Haaglund in Wednesday night’s key matchup.

The Cincinnati native from Lakota West High School and Xavier University will have his hands full going against Fafa Picault, who, in his own right, has struggled to get going this year.

Cory Burke will most likely draw the attention of veteran defender Kendall Waston, leaving Picault with the space he needs to thrive and get his season back on track.

Player to watch: Jamiro Monteiro

He has been far and away the best player for Philadelphia over the past two games, and he will continue to be a factor against FC Cincinnati.

While he did not feature in the team’s first match up, Monteiro will be pivotal this time around in cleaning up the lose balls in midfield and stepping up to cut out Cincy’s attempts at counter attacks. He made two key plays in the Union’s lone goal against Vancouver doing just that.

Prediction: Union 4-0 FC Cincinnati

It is a big scoreline to predict, and coming from me, a pessimist, I am just as surprised as the rest of you.

It should, however, be noted that Philadelphia has never lost when I am on the match report or match preview (3-1-0). So naturally here comes the loss. Sorry, everybody.

Cincinnati is looking like a sinking ship at this point, just looking for a beacon of hope that will be their new stadium if/when it finally gets started.

Home games against expansion teams are almost must wins for teams like the Union and I see Wednesday night as no exception.


  1. The Truth says:

    I doubt Accamm plays the 10, he’s much too attracted to the wing. I’d rather someone else step in that role and both Titi and Fafa run the track meet. Who could slot into the 10 spot? Aaronson came off early in Vancouver. His form has dropped off but this could be the subpar opponent he needs to find it.
    I could also see Haris getting the night off with Monterio playing the 6. Not sure who would slot into the midfield. Maybe Fabi? Maybe WC?
    What’s good with Santos? Could he see minutes? Fafa could slot into the midfield, he has some defensive chops.

    • Would not be surprised to see the lineup Rob predicts but in a 4-2-3-1 with Monteiro at the #10 like how the team rolled out against the Impact.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I agree with this. That seemed to work pretty well. Can always switch formations late in game to push, if needed.

  2. Too bad local lad Jimmy McLaughlin is injured. Was looking forward to see him play again.

  3. I don’t think Curtin believes in squad rotation or rest. I think we see the same starting XI we saw in Vancouver with the only possible changes coming to the starting pair up top. Maybe Burke gets the start over Przybylko. Maybe not. I’d like to hope I’m wrong and he gives Medunjanin, Gaddis and maybe even Bedoya a day off. You should be able to take care of Cincinnati at home (Though, I know. This is the Union we’re talking about).

    • Peanut Gallery says:

      I hope you are wrong, too. The same XI from Vancouver would be make for a tired and perhaps injury prone side.

    • Obviously the first statement here is dead wrong if you look at the lineups fielded so far and number of different goal scorers. Also, it’s not like he’s flogging anyone to go out there and play against their will.

      In the past, there hasn’t been much to rotate to. So, tag Curtin as rigid or unaware all you like, but that doesn’t make it true if you understand what factors into the decisions.

      • He’s run the oldest guy in the midfield into every game since he signed. Most of his lineup changes have been forced by injury. AND the man has said many times he doesn’t subscribe to squad rotation when he’s been asked. So yes, I was employing a bit of hyperbole, but will not accept the assessment that I’m “dead wrong.”

      • Pete, I 100% share the concern but we also must consider that this organization, and Curtin in particular, seem to be using up-to-date sports science techniques with regard to tracking player performance and fitness. So any decisions he is making with regard to giving a player rest or not are as informed as can be.

    • John Ling says:

      I wouldn’t rest Medunjanin and Bedoya in the same game, but I would certainly look to give each of them a game off – one today and one on Saturday.
      Mind you, I agree with you that neither will get a rest.

    • Won’t say I told ya so…. One change tonight.

  4. Michaela says:

    The likeliness of Real starting is slim. They will probably start Mbaizo again and maybe sub Real in.

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