Match previews / Union

Match preview: Atlanta United vs Philadelphia Union

Photo by Marjorie Elzey

Who: Atlanta United (2-4-1, 8th in East)  vs Philadelphia Union (4-2-2, 2nd in East)

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Gerogia

When: Sunday, June 20th, 2:00pm

Watch: ESPN

Whistle: Ted Unkel REF, Malik Badawi VAR

The Philadelphia Union are back in action as the MLS international break comes to a close, and a matchup in Atlanta on national television looms on Sunday afternoon. Both squads have lost starters due to international competitions, with Venezuela calling in Jose Martinez of Philadelphia and Josef Martinez of Atlanta for Copa America action. Philadelphia will also be without Daniel Gazdag, who recently returned from the European Championships with a slight knee injury. These two teams are also quite familiar with each other in 2021, meeting in the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals earlier this season. Philadelphia came away with a 3-0 win in Atlanta and an aggregate victory in the series.

Scouting Report: Atlanta United 

Since their last meeting in the Champions League (a 1-1 draw in Chester), Atlanta has gone on a 4 game unbeaten streak in MLS play. Starting with a 1-1 draw in Miami, the Peaches claimed a 1-0 win over Montreal at home. Then a trip to Seattle saw the Five Stripes earn another 1-1 draw, and the run was capped with a 2-2 draw at home against Nashville.

The absence of Josef Martinez will be a big blow for the home side, as he was coming back into form after recovering from an ACL injury. Ezequiel Barco looks to be the focus in the Atlanta stating XI, with new man Marcelino Moreno also in to make an impact after scoring last match.

In the back, Atlanta sports a number of young Americans with George Bello, Miles Robinson and Brooks Lennon all claiming starting spots in the lineup. Bello and Lennon will look to push the attack forward, operating more as wingbacks. Robinson has been the organizer and defensive rock of the unit, while also offering an aerial threat on set pieces.  In net is veteran Brad Guzan, who’s only kept one clean sheet in his last 4 matchups with the Union. Despite that, Guzan is still a capable goalkeeper and can make the big save to bail out his team on occasion.

Injury Report: Out: Machop Chol, Jurgen Damm, Emerson Hyndman. Questionable: Ezequiel Barco, Mo Adams, Alec Kann, Alan Franco

Suspension Report: None

Scouting report: Union

Philadelphia boasts an impressive road record so far in league and Champions League play in 2021. The Boys in Blue haven’t conceded a goal in 5 matches and have a record of 4-0-1 away from home. Philadelphia is also entering the match on their own unbeaten streak, spanning 6 games since their 1-1 draw with Atlanta in Chester back in the beginning of May. In their current run of form, the Union also are on a 3 game shutout streak, keeping New York Red Bulls, D.C United and the Portland Timbers off the board.

Despite missing Jose Martinez and Daniel Gazdag due to international duty, Philadelphia will still feel confident with the personnel they have available. The Union missed Martinez for 2 games due to his red card suspension, deploying Leon Flach as the defensive midfielder, a position he was highly effective in. In those 2 matches without Martinez, the Union claimed a 2-0 win in Chicago and drew New England 1-1 at home. What makes Philadelphia even more dangerous is the unpredictability of who slots into the midfield in the shuttler position. With Paxton Aaronson making his debut last match, coach Jim Curtin has his selection of Anthony Fontana, Jack McGlynn or Aaronson to fill the role. Union fans would remember that McGlynn was the starter for the 2 matches Martinez was out.

Up front the Union will be hoping that Kacper Pzrybylko will keep his good run of form, having scored in his last 2 MLS matches. Sergio Santos has also began to find his legs and notched a goal against Portland in his last start. Another unchanged group for Philadelphia will be the back four, as Jack Elliott, Jacob Glesnes, Olivier Mbazio and Kai Wagner have started every match so far this year. New addition Alvas Powell should make the bench, but isn’t expected to feature.

Injury Report: Jack De Vries – Out, Ilsinho – Out, Greg Ranjitsingh – Out

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup Atlanta attack vs Union midfield

Will Leon Flach be able to repeat his two previous performances at defensive midfield on the road in Atlanta? Will Jim Curtin trust one of his young homegrowns to make a start on the road? These two questions will have to be answered during the match, and will dictate who wins the match. Atlanta without Josef Martinez should be easier, and Leon Flach has had a stellar season so far. Whoever steps up will set up their team for success.

Player to Watch: Alejandro Bedoya

The Philadelphia captain has had a strong start to the year and a 2 week break from MLS play should have him ready to go. Philadelphia will need his energy and dirty running, especially with a shuffled midfield in a road match. His leadership and work ethic will be a big plus for Philadelphia.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 1 -1 Atlanta United

A cagey one in Atlanta sees both teams extend their unbeaten runs after the international break. Philadelphia’s road shutout streak comes to an end but Sergio Santos nets an equalizer for the Union to leave with a point.

 

Odds
Philadelphia = +210
Atlanta = +145
Draw = +230

 

4 Comments

  1. Vince Devine says:

    Hyndman is also out with injury.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    Martinez missed 3 games with the red. The Union also beat the Pink Cows 1-0 while he was out.

  3. thanks for the report, Sean.

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