Match previews / Union

Match preview: FC Cincinnati vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: FC Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia Union

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

When: Saturday, August 6th, 7:30 p.m.

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+, Philadelphiaunion.com

Whistle: Not available at publication

It’s a matchup between two teams of a similar build on Saturday night in Cincinnati. There will be many familiar faces on the Cincinnati side of the field, with former Union technical director Chris Albright installing the Philadelphia model in Cincinnati. The Ohioans feature Union alums like Ray Gaddis, Alvas Powell, Sergio Santos, and head coach Pat Noonan.

It will also be an emotional night for now former Cincinnati and Philadelphia man Haris Medunjanin, who is returning to Europe after the match. He’ll receive a pre-match send-off in front of his two former teams.

Scouting Report: FC Cincinnati 

After several years of struggling in MLS play, Cincinnati have started to find a foothold in the Eastern Conference. They now sit right on the playoff line with 29 points on the year. Pat Noonan has been able to introduce a style of play eerily similar to Philadelphia, with a preference to not have possession and defend well. In keeping true to their Philadelphia spirit, Cincinnati draws a decent amount of their matches collecting eight draws this season, including in five of their last six games, Philadelphia has nine on the year.

Looking to put the ball in the next for Cincy is recently named All-Star Brandon Vazquez, with the young forward scoring 11 goals so far this season, including two in their last outing against Miami. Alongside him is the Brazilian Brenner, who has notched five goals so far this season. Another former Union man in Sergio Santos could be an option off the bench, but he has been dealing with an injury for the last several weeks. Feeding the attack is Luciano Acosta, who’s notched six goals and six assists so far.

Shielding the backline for Cincinnati are Junior Moreno and Obinna Nwobodo, who will look to win balls and bring physicality to the center of the field. Operating as wing-backs are Alvas Powell on the right and Alvaro Barreal, with both looking to be involved in attack. Ray Gaddis is a more defensive minded option off the bench. In the center Cincinnati sports the trio of Geoff Cameron, Tyler Blackett and Ian Murphy, who have become a solid defensive line in the league, although they did surrender four goals to Miami last match. In goal is young keeper Roman Celentano, keeping three clean sheets on the year and allowing 24 goals in 15 games.

Injury Report: Out: Ronald Matarrita, Nicholas Markanich, Kenneth Vermeer, Beckham Sunderland

Questionable: Sergio Santos

Suspension Report:  None

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

The headline for Philadelphia in the early part of the season was a team that had trouble scoring and too many draws.

Come back to now and the Union have strung together five straight wins, scoring 18 goals in the process. Mikael Uhre has found his scoring touch in the Philly offense, putting 2 past Houston last weekend. Julian Carranza also re-found his scoring touch, getting back on the scoresheet last weekend. Daniel Gazdag has been putting together a productive season at the tip of the midfield, notching 11 goals and five assists so far this season.

Alejandro Bedoya and Jose Martinez will join Gazdag in the midfield, with Bedoya looking to build on his three-assist night last weekend and Martinez returning from suspension. The only question is who will be joining them on the left side of midfield diamond? Leon Flach has taken the spot most of the season, but Jack McGlynn is pushing for more minutes in the starting eleven.  Paxten Aaronson and Quinn Sullivan are also options off the bench in the midfield.

The backline for Philadelphia has been putting together a historic season, they are on pace to give up the fewest goals in an MLS season. A large part of the success is the center-back pairing of Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott, who are coming off back to back clean sheets. Kai Wagner has been a threat in the Philadelphia attack as well as great defensively, the All-Star has collected 11 assists from his left back position. Right back is more of a question mark on the back line, as Olivier Mbazio looks to have regained his starting spot from Nathan Harriel after a strong showing last weekend. In net for Philadelphia is All-Star Andre Blake, who’s collected 11 clean sheets so far this season.

Injury Report: None

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup: Offense creating defense

Philadelphia and Cincinnati facing off is like to rams bashing heads. The exact same play style with sides that are familiar with one another will lead to a low scoring affair. Whichever side is able to effectively press and turn the other over in an advanced position will have the best chance at a win.

Player to Watch: Mikael Uhre

Uhre has found his scoring touch as of late in this offensive system, if he can continue to fill the net Philadelphia will be very tough to beat.

Prediction:  Cincinnati 1-1 Philadelphia 

Just like the reverse fixture in Chester, this match ends in a 1-1 draw with few scoring chances for each side.

Odds
Philadelphia = +165
Cincinnati = +142
Draw = +240

9 Comments

  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Respect to Haris, one of my favorite players when he wore the blue and gold. When he was taking corner kicks, I had a habit of chanting “Medunjanin” rather than “Union”.
    .
    Two incidents of his with refs that I’ll always remember. One was when he talked the ref out of giving a red card to his opponent from DC United because the player never made contact. If everyone had that type of sportsmanship, the game would be even better.
    .
    The other was when he went ballistic when Bedoya got a second yellow in the 20th minute in Atlanta. While I don’t normally support players arguing with the ref, there are times when it is necessary to support your teammates.

    • facts, those were 2 memorable moments for Haris. I’ll also remember his amazing passing, and his ability to point at other teammates while not playing defense.

  2. Lol to his pointing defense but yeah he ranks as one of my very favorites. Even got lucky enough to get his jersey after a game and was too dumbfounded to actually get him to sign it.

  3. Whistle update:
    .
    REF: Drew Fischer
    AR1: Lyes Arfa
    AR2: Kathryn Nesbitt
    4TH: Matthew Corrigan
    VAR: Younes Marrakchi
    AVAR: Craig Lowry

  4. Haris Medunjanin-master of the orange slice swipe.

  5. And Santos is , guess what, hurt again. But he is Cincy’s problem now. Tanner knows how to pick talent but is also excellent at cutting his losses (how many goals has the friendly striker scored this year?)…

  6. Murphthesurf says:

    Keep the streak alive – DOOP ⚽️!

  7. Love to see the Union win this 2/0. Just cuz I like clean sheets! Hope Haris has safe travels and enjoys his family back home! Always enjoyed him in Blue and Gold!

  8. I’m going to be optimistic and pick the Union to win 2-0. I think they have been making the most of their time off and should be in good shape for this match. I expect Haris’ farewell will lead to a respectful first half until someone does something to get under the Union skin around the 35th minute. My guess is that it will be 0-0 at halftime but Carranza and McGlynn will score in the second half.

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