Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Charlotte FC

Photo: Howie Pollard

Who: Philadelphia Union vs. Charlotte FC

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Saturday, April 2nd, 7:30 pm

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+, Philadelphiaunion.com

Whistle: Not available at publication

It’s another season of MLS action and another expansion side will be making their Subaru Park debut. The new kids from the Queen City will make their way up I-95 for their first visit to Chester, as they continue their quest for their first road points in MLS.

Scouting Report: Charlotte FC

Charlotte has been in the headlines as the leagues newest club, for good and for bad.

They set the MLS attendance record at their first home match, but made headlines even before kickoff with head coach Miguel Ramirez’s blunt assessment of his roster in preseason.

Ramirez’s assessment may not have been 100% correct though, as his side has strung together 2 straight wins, with their first coming over New England in a 3-1 battle. Designated Player Karol Swiderski has been a big part of that turn in form, scoring four goals in his four games so far this year. Top pick in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft Ben Bender has also been out to prove his coach wrong, notching a goal and assist in the win over New England.

Charlotte does sport some bigger names that soccer fans will notice, such as Christian Fuchs. The Austrian defender of Leicester City fame has appeared in all of Charlotte’s matches, helping the club get their first clean sheet last week against Cincinnati. Alongside Fuchs in the back is Guzman Corujo, who brings over 100 matches in the Uruguayan Primera division to the table. Philadelphia fans will also recognize another name on the Charlotte roster in Derrick Jones, with the former Union homegrown being traded to Charlotte from Houston just weeks ago.

In net for Charlotte is Kristijan Kahlina, who’s been a busy man in Charlotte’s 5 matches. The score-line in most matches won’t reflect well on Kahlina, but he does hold a 75% save rate and one clean sheet for the expansion side.

Injury Report: Out: Vinicius Mello, Chris Hegardt; Questionable: Yordy Reyna, Karol Swiderski, Adam Armour, Jan Sobocinski

Suspension Report:  None

Scouting report: Union

Philadelphia is looking to continue their strong start to the season and remain one of two sides in the league that are unbeaten so far. The Union will also be given a boost due to their success over expansion teams, sporting a record of 6-2-1 in debut games against expansion sides and winning four straight.

Up top, Philadelphia has also seen a rebirth in scoring prowess this season. Daniel Gazdag has scored in three straight matches playing in attacking midfield, and new man Mikael Uhre should play a role after returning from injury. Julian Carranza has found new life in Philadelphia, notching two assists in his three games, while Sergio Santos remains a threat with his speed.

The midfield has also been a strong point for the Union in the early season, with concerns about Alejandro Bedoya’s fitness levels luckily not yet coming to fruition. Jose Martinez has also been putting in stellar performances, he will be returning from international duty with Venezuela.

Jacob Glesnes and Jack Elliott are the stalwart pairing in the back after leading the Union to a Supporter’s Shield and an Eastern Conference final in each of the past 2 seasons. Kai Wagner has shown why he has European interest in his time in MLS, remaining defensively sound while delivering perfect crosses into the box to join the attack. Homegrown Nathan Harriel has grabbed the starting right back spot from Olivier Mbaizo, and proved he’s here to stay last match out against defending champions NYCFC.

All-Star goalkeeper Andre Blake will be in goal for the Union as he returns from international duty with Jamaica.

Injury Report: Questionable: Stuart Findlay, Mikael Uhre

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup Opposing Mindsets

Charlotte comes into this match with almost nothing to lose, expansion sides are usually not expected to fair well in their first season, especially against one of the better sides in MLS in recent years. Which can be the exact motivation they need to steal a point or three from Chester.

Philadelphia meanwhile should not overlook Charlotte, especially considering their recent run of form.

Player to Watch: Julian Carranza 

Carranza has proven he can fit into the Philadelphia system by setting up a few goals, but he’s still looking for an opening goal in gold and blue. Philadelphia will need output from their starting strikers soon, or they’ll quickly find themselves among the reserves.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 2-1 Charlotte FC

Philadelphia keeps their unbeaten streak alive, while Swiderski keeps scoring for Charlotte.

Odds
Philadelphia = -147
Charlotte= +115
Draw = +360

10 Comments

  1. Just learned here that Fuchs is in MLS. Charlotte looks like they’ll be a tough team to beat. Looking forward to it.

  2. Gruncle Bob says:

    Draftkings has:
    PHI -230
    Draw +350
    CLT +650

    The U should crush this team, not just because the odds say so, but because they’re bad.

  3. I thought that I read on twitter that Martinez picked up a knock in international competition? Is he definitely not questionable? (know that sounds weird to say)

  4. pragmatist says:

    This feels like a trap game. We’ve played well, they’re an expansion team with no expectations. I hope we score an early goal to move the momentum in the right direction.
    I’m excited to see Uhre and Carranza pairing up top, especially with Gazdag in form behind them.
    My main concern is whether the international break took away any momentum. Again, jumping out early, even just creating a bunch of changes, will be huge to put those fears to rest.

  5. I predict a 2-0 Union win.
    .
    The weather will be cool but not frigid, starting in the fifties and dropping into the forties during the game, so the players should stay fresh throughout the game. I expect Subaru Park will have good attendance as the fans will show up to see a likely Union win. Combined with the international break to recover and I think the Union should be on the front foot all night.
    .
    Since the teams will be restarting after the break, the first fifteen minutes could be slow as both teams work the ball around and build into the game. The first good chance for a goal should come around the 15 minute mark when someone gets their head up, either sees a good run or Charlotte makes a bad pass, and the Union spring a 30 yard attack.
    .
    I hope that Curtin will watch his players and use his substitutes well in the game and, maybe, reward some bench players with extended time. Andre Blake will need to make one or two #SavesByDre quality stops as Charlotte will get some chances but I’m confident that the Union defense will hold the clean sheet. My prediction is a scoreless first half follwed by Carranza and Gasdag scoring in the second.
    .
    I would love to see Uhre, Sullivan, Aaronson, and McGlynn get time in the second half if they don’t start.

  6. Andy Muenz says:

    Timothy Ford is on the whistle tonight.

  7. Enrico del Savvagio says:

    Ellott and the viking were excellent tonight. CLT were never scoring against this back four and Blake. Fun to watch.

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