Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs FC Cincinnati

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union (2020: 8-3-4, 28 points) vs FC Cincinnati (3-8-4, 13 points)

What: 2020 MLS Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When: Wednesday, October 7th at 7:30 p.m.

Watch: PHL 17, ESPN+

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

It hasn’t been a long wait for these two teams to meet again, with their first meeting coming exactly 2 weeks ago with a 0-0 draw in Cincinnati. It was a match that was a frustrating night for the Union offensively, especially on the Nippert Stadium turf, and they had to be rescued by a late Andre Blake save to get a point out of the match.

Scouting Report: Cincinnati 

Cincinnati has become a side known for their defensive approach to games in the 2020 season, after posting the worst defensive record in MLS history in 2019. This defensive approach has come at a cost though, as Cincinnati has only been to score 2 or more goals twice the entire season.

With their defensive approach, Cincinnati doesn’t boost many star names back in defense. Kendall Waston is probably the most recognizable, the Costa Rican international captains the side and has started all 15 matches so far this season. Although he hasn’t recorded a goal in 2020, Waston is always a threat on set pieces at 6 foot 5 inches. Next to Waston is Maikel van der Werff, who joined the team last summer from the Netherlands, appearing in 10 games so far for Cincy. On the flanks, except Andrew Gutman on the right and  Mathieu Deplagne on the left. Neither are true wing backs and don’t really get into the attack, serving more to hold possession and link with the Cincinnati midfield.

The midfield holds a very familiar face for Union fans in Haris Medunjanin, who likes to hit long passes and command the attack from deep, along with a very strong pointing game. Also in the midfield to help in the possession game is young player Frankie Amaya, who’s started 14 of Cincy’s games and designated player Allan Cruz. Cruz has been in and out the starting lineup, but has appeared in 11 games so far. Cruz also helps elevate some defensive worries in Medunjanin’s game, providing a defense bit much like Jose Martinez of the Union.

In the attack, Cincinnati sports some bigger names despite being one of the most attacking adverse sides in MLS. Jurgen Locadia is the main man in attack, sporting Premier League and Bundesliga experience, Locadia hasn’t gotten going yet, providing just one goal so far in 2020. Another striker with European experience is Yuya Kubo, who has spent the last few years with Gent in Belgium. Much like Locadia, Kubo hasn’t gotten many looks on goal so far, accounting for 2 goals in 2020.

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 the last time these 2 teams met. To add to the frustration, they were largely held at bay against Toronto FC last Saturday night. Expect Cincinnati to be even less willing to attack, looking to steal a point or a win in Chester tonight.

Kacper Przybylko and Sergio Santos look to be the locked-in strike partnership with Santos returning back to full fitness. The Union attack also has an added boost with Cory Burke returning to Philadelphia, although he won’t be available tonight after just arriving yesterday. It will be interesting to see how long Sergio Santos is going to be on the field: Jim Curtin has been keeping him close to 60 minutes a match due to injury concerns. Andrew Wooten hasn’t been very effective off the bench, so if the match is still close in the second half it will be interesting to see how long Santos is allowed to stay out.

The Union midfield shouldn’t see any changes from Saturday night, but don’t put it past Jim Curtin to make some squad-rotating changes. Warren Creavalle is returning to full fitness but doesn’t appear fit enough to start the match. Jamiro Monteiro may be a candidate for a rest as he has played in every match so far for the Union.

In the back, Jack Elliott could be looking at a return to the lineup, though he is still listed as questionable. After losses Curtin likes to tweak his lineup, and with Elliott returning to fitness he is a prime candidate to replace Jacob Glesnes in the center next to Mark McKenzie. Also Kai Wagner looks set for another return as he has been battling injuries all year; he should replace Matt Real on the left side, while Olivier Mbazio should still be out on the right for the injured Ray Gaddis.

Injury Report: Out: Raymon Gaddis

Key Matchup:  Union Attack vs Cincinnati Defense

The Union couldn’t get past Cincy 2 weeks ago, and were largely ineffective Saturday night. The good news is that Philadelphia seems to rebound after a disappointing outing, they did put 3 behind Miami after being shut out in Cincinnati last time. Kacper Przybylko should be looking to get back into goal scoring after not scoring in the past 3 games.

Player to Watch: Kacper Przybylko 

Przybylko has been the one constant in the Union attack all season, when he plays well it usually results in good things for Philadelphia. He’s in a bit of a cold streak now, and should be looking to heat up as the games start coming quick.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 2-0 Cincinnati

Being on the grass at Subaru Park helps the Union finally crack the Cincinnati defense. The Union should look to control possession and don’t let Cincy get comfortable and set in their defense shape in front of goal. Kai Wagner should also help overload the left side for the Union attack, something that was missing the first time these teams met.

Philadelphia: -185
Cincinnati:  +395
Draw: +273


  1. Cole Turner, Jack de Vries, and Matt Freese (who started earlier so may be finished) all have to pass through a quarantine protocol as well as testing before returning to full practice with the first team after there stints with Union II.
    it is worth noting that de Vries did a nice job defensively against Pittsburgh Riverhounds playmaker Kenardo Forbes during his 56 minutes last Saturday.
    Cole Turner has also shown signs of improved offensive distribution as a lone DCM.

  2. FIFA just ordered Martinez to be released to play for Venezuela. Glad that it was somebody completely fair, like FIFA, making that call. (Sarcasm warning.) Too long to play without even a card magnet like Martinez, as well as he has been playing.

    • I Just saw that too. That is a huge blow for the Union, as he’ll miss the next five games by the time he returns and completes his quarantine.
      I think that ends any hope for them winning the Eastern Conference Title (or the Supporters Shield for those who were extremely Posidelphian )…

      • Means either Bedoya or Monteiro, and Aaronson shift back, Bedoya or Monteiro for Martinez and Aaronson for Bedoya, with Fontana coming on in Aaronson’s slot, or Creavalle and Oravec cover the DCM for 90 minutes between them.
        Cole Turner has to still be in quarantine on his way back from Union II last Saturday in Pittsburgh.
        They are extremely thin, extremely, in the midfield.

  3. Fontana is starting in place of Martinez, but taking over the CAM role. Seems like the best way to get your best available XI on the field if nothing else.

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