Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs Club America

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Who: Philadelphia Union vs. Club America

What: Concacaf Champions League Semifinal – Second Leg

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Wednesday, September 15, 9 p.m. ET

Watch: FS1, TUDN, Univision

Whistle: Not available at time of publication

After an extended break from the pitch, the Philadelphia Union return to action Wednesday night as they attempt to erase a 2-0 first leg deficit against Mexican powerhouse Club America in the second leg of their Concacaf Champions League semifinal matchup.

It was 33 days ago that the Union left the Azteca in Mexico City, suffering a 2-0 loss courtesy of an early goal off a deflection and a disputed second half penalty kick. Their performance was certainly nothing to hang their heads about.  However, the Boys in Blue will need a dramatically improved effort if they are complete a comeback and advance to the Champions League final.

Scouting Report: Club America

Club America have been in great form since they squared off against the Union roughly one month ago.  They sit top of the Liga MX Apertura table and they’ve won four out of their last five matches, dropping points only to third place Leon by way of a 1-1 draw on the road.

24 year old attacking midfielder Alvaro Fidalgo currently leads the team with three goals while left-back Salvador Reyes leads all players with three assists.  Long-time Mexico men’s national team goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa has started in net for the teams last five matches.

Head coach Santiago Solari has implemented a few formation variations thus far in the Apertura, though the 4-2-3-1 has been the most utilized.  Carrying a 2-0 lead, a defensive minded formation can be expected.

Injury Report: Renato Ibarro (Out), Santiago Naveda (Doubtful), Leonardo Suarez (Doubtful)

Suspension Report: None

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Union have endured a difficult stretch of MLS play since the first, going 1-1-2 with their last win being August 18 against NYCFC (1-0).  Head coach Jim Curtin hopes to return to winning ways and is confident the team can make up the two-goal difference.

“In soccer, when you have a home game and you score an early goal, the whole thing can shift quickly,” Curtin stated to the media on Monday. “So again, we’re disappointed we gave up that second goal in Azteca Stadium, but we have the confidence in our group that we can score multiple goals at home. We’ve done that plenty of times before with our great supporters behind us.”

With the exception of Ilsinho, who is currently sidelined with a groin injury, Curtin will have his full squad to choose from in order to find that early goal, including Jamiro Monteiro who was unavailable in Leg 1 due to yellow card accumulation.

The go-to 4-4-2 diamond was used in the first leg.  However, Curtin has implemented formation variations over the last several MLS matches, including a 4-3-2-1 and 4-2-3-1.  It remains to be seen what formation will be utilized in this must win match.

Also remaining to be seen is whether any of the Union homegrowns will be called upon.  Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan both made the trip to the Azteca but did not see the field.

Injury Report: Ilsinho (Out), Sergio Santos (Questionable), Alejandro Bedoya (Questionable)

Suspension Report: None

Key Matchup: Battle of the midfield

The Union tend to struggle when needing to break down a team who is sitting back defensively.  With Club America defending a 2-0 lead, direct and over-the-top type of opportunities may be difficult to come by.  The Union will have to find ways to create chances through possession and clinical passing in order to find the goals they need.

Player to Watch: Jamiro Monteiro

After missing the first leg, Monteiro has the opportunity to be a star and help the U pull off what would be a comeback of epic proportions.

Prediction: Philadelphia Union 1-1 Club America 

The Union get a first-half goal and give the home crowd hope, but Club America ultimately proves to be too much and show that they are the most successful CCL club for a reason.


  1. I want to be positive but finding it difficult to imagine the Union scoring against America, who will probably come out content to just come out and control possession without taking any big risks. Without the opportunities to counter, Union will have to find a way to cut through a very stingy America defense, and we haven’t shown a lot of skill with that task. Perhaps Davo makes a star turn here, scores early and gives us a shot in the arm.

    It’s not impossible, but not very likely. Here’s hoping for the unlikely.

  2. ANY goal for the U is a victory. America’s conceded 3 in their last 9 matches.

  3. I know that the chances of getting a good result here are slim, but I have to wonder why it was necessary to schedule the game at 9pm on a week night.
    If we can play in their time zone at 4000ft elevation when we go there, why cant they play in our time zone when they come here? It’s part of the home field advantage.
    Have talked to multiple adults not going this late on a week night and expect a lot less kids too – all at a time when we could have really used a full stadium advantage.

    • Yup. I rarely miss a game; but the 9pm start gave me pause. I am going, but only because of the epic-ness of the game. If this were an MLS game I’d be on my couch. I’m def in WTF?-mode on the start time.

    • I’m guessing Fox Sports had a say in the starting time.

      • Scott of Nazareth says:

        100% FS1 called the start time, plus I’m sure Univision and other Latin American broadcast partners CONCACAF sold rights to. CA is a big ratings draw, especially on the West Coast so while its a late night for us, broadcasting a game at 4:30 in the afternoon out there won’t bring as many eyeballs to the TV sets.

    • For what it’s worth, if you go to the Union website, there are no tickets available for tonight’s game (suggesting that there will be a substantial crowd).
      Now, will there be a lot of empty seats from what are usually season ticket holders? That’s entirely possible. And I totally agree that the 9 p.m. start time is really not optimal for the Union.

  4. I’m going with a 2-0 result in a game that doesn’t actually start until midnight due to thunderstorms in the area. I don’t remember if they play overtime or just go straight to PK’s, but they eventually lose in PK’s when Blake skies his sometime around 3am.
    If it goes that late, I’m calling out sick tomorrow.

  5. Davo has got to start right?

  6. Officials: from Concacaf’s website 9/13/21


    Referee: Said MARTINEZ (Honduras)

    Assistant Referee 1: Walter LOPEZ (Honduras)

    Assistant Referee 2: Christian RAMIREZ (Honduras)

    Fourth Official: Ivan BARTON (El Salvador)

    VAR: Benjamin PINEDA (Costa Rica)

    AVAR: Ismael CORNEJO (El Salvador)

  7. In Tanner We Trust says:

    Y’all see the lineup? We might just be screwed. Flach, Bedoya, Kacper all in the lineup with no Davo or Santos at all. U recognize Santos picked up a knock but I swear Curtin wants all of us to turn on him again. This is ridiculous.

  8. 80% of the crowd currently in the stadium are Club America fans.

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