Match previews / Union

Match preview: Inter Miami vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Major League Soccer

Who: Philadelphia Union (2020: 7-2-4, 25 points) vs Inter Miami (3-8-2, 11 points)

What: 2020 MLS Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When: Sunday, September 27th at 7:30 p.m.

Watch: PHL 17, ESPN+

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

This Sunday night will only be the second time in history that the Union and Inter Miami face off, and the first ever meeting in Chester. Their first ever meeting came at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, with the Union coming away with a 2-1 win over Miami with goals from Kai Wagner and Kacper Przybylko in the second group stage match.

Scouting Report: Miami

The expansion side got off to a rough start in MLS, becoming the first team to lose its first five matches. They were able to end the streak with a win in the regular season resumption with a 3-2 win over Orlando, but were only able to notch two wins against Atlanta in their 7 matches after that, posting a record of 3-3-2 since the regular season restart. Miami also was in play this past Wednesday, suffering a 4-1 defeat at home to the New York Red Bulls.

The Miami ownership group has been trying to lure big stars to their team in hopes to change their fortunes, and they succeeded in landing Blaise Matuidi in midfield and Gonzalo Higuain in attack to boost their roster. It remains to be seen if Higuain will be available for Inter as head coach Diego Alonso indicated he was in training, but Miami is still waiting for his visa paperwork to come through. A look at Miami’s attacking core shows why someone like Higuain is needed. Juan Agudelo has been one of the most consistent starters for the team, starting in 7 matches and appearing in 11, he’s notched 3 goals so far in 2020. After Agudelo, wingers Matias Pellegrini and Lewis Morgan also get up into the attack. Pellegrini has yet to score in 2020 but has provided 3 assists, while Morgan had started every game for Miami and had 2 goals and 4 assists on the year. In the middle providing service and goal threats is star Rodolfo Pizzaro, the man who scored Miami’s goal in the first meeting. Pizzaro has also featured in all of Miami’s matches, scoring 3 goals and notching 4 assists.

The midfield is now anchored by Blaise Matuidi, who recently joined the side from Juventus, taking the role from Will Trapp. Another consistent in the Miami midfield is Victor Ulloa, playing in the box to box role in the center he’s started all of Miami’s games and has 2 assists on the year. Rounding out the midfield is another long time MLS player in Brek Shea. Shea recently joined Miami in June and notched a goal against Atlanta. Look for him to be more of a defensive presence in the match.

Back in defense, Inter Miami does have some MLS experience, bringing Ben Sweat from NYCFC and Leandro Gonzalez Pirez formerly of Atlanta United. Sweat likes to get up into the attack and has appeared  in all of Miami’s matches so far. Next to Pirez is another player who has featured in all of Miami’s matches in Nicolas Figal. Figal has been apart of both of Inter Miami’s clean sheets on the year. In goal is another long time MLS veteran in Luis Robles. Union fans should be aware of Robles shot stopping ability after his years in New York, but he hasn’t kept a clean sheet against the Union in his last 4 matches.

Injury Report:   Out: George Acosta, David Norman Jr, Denso Ulysse, Julian Carranza

Scouting report: Union

The Union were clearly frustrated by Cincinnati’s defensive tactics and the turf at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday. The good news for the Union is that they’ll be on their home grass Sunday night, and shouldn’t be looking at a team that gets all eleven players behind the ball.

Andrew Wooten and Kacper Przybylko struggled to get anything going on Wednesday night, and with Sergio Santos getting more minutes we may see a change in the partnership on the night. Santos should bring the speed to allow Kacper to find more room in Miami’s defense, if Santos is healthy enough to start. Brenden Aaronson should also be looking to show why RB Salzburg is interested in him, he helped spring and create a beautiful counter attack the last time they faced Miami. In midfield, the Union will be without captain Alejandro Bedoya due to yellow card accumlation, so look for Anthony Fontana or Ilsinho to fill his spot. Fontana is the more natural selection, allowing the Union to keep their shape, while Ilsinho can offer a more attacking option and a formation shift.

In the back, we will likely see Mark McKenzie and Jacob Glesnes as the centerback pairing for the night, as Jack Elliott is still nursing an injury. Kai Wagner looks set to return to the starting lineup as Jim Curtin said he thinks he’s good to go after the Cincinnati match. Conversely, Ray Gaddis will be sidelined a week or 2 with a hamstring injury suffered on Wednesday, look for Olivier Mbazio to be back on the right in his more natural position.

Injury Report: Questionable: Jack Elliott Out: Raymon Gaddis

Key Matchup:  Union Attack vs Miami Defense

The Union faced a team built to bunker and defend on Wednesday night in Cincinnati, Inter Miami isn’t a team that is built to do that, at least not yet. With Sergio Santos earning more minutes and returning to fitness, it will be interesting to see who starts next to Kacper Przybylko up top. Andrew Wooten hasn’t provided goals, but he has been a reliable target man and picked up assists.

Player to Watch: Anthony Fontana

Fontana looks set to get his first start of the MLS season after a string of strong performances off the bench. Can he show that he can be the long term solution to replace Alejandro Bedoya, and an even shorter solution to replace Aaronson when he moves to Europe? He’ll be looking to have the same effect he does off the bench from the beginning.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 3-1 Miami

The Union get some frustration out and bang in some goals. Santos and Przybylko link up well against the Miami defense and a returning Kai Wagner helps the Union attack on the left side.

Odds:
Philadelphia: +125
Miami:  +198
Draw: +245

6 Comments

  1. Fontana totally absolutely has to start. It NEEDS to happen even more than Martinez was out, because with Bedoya at the 8 that is a straight swap for Fontana at the 8. Despite his recent forays into the attack recently I always thought long term he projected as a Bedoya-type 8. In a way this game could be a glance at the possible future 2-3 years from now.

    • I was trying to figure out why Fontana isn’t getting more playing time. Part of it is that he’s cocky (not necessarily a bad trait for a goal scorer) which might rub Curtin the wrong way.
      .
      But parsing through Jim’s comments, it seems like Jim doesn’t trust him on the defensive side. Ale does the hard work out there that maybe Fontana isn’t showing in practice?
      .
      That’s the only thing I can figure based on the limited info out there.
      .
      Does anyone else have a window into this?

    • He’ll play but no way he starts. I guarantee you Jim starts Ilsinho and brings Fontana off the bench

  2. A couple of editing notes. Second paragraph of Miami scouting report, I believe they are trying lure international players not lore them. And I would think Montreal would be much longer odds then that to win a game between Miami and Philadelphia.

  3. Why can Higuain get his visa but Cory Burke can’t?

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