Analysis / Philadelphia Union II

Union II’s path to the playoffs

Photo: Ben Ross

With just three matches to go, today we examine Philadelphia Union II’s remaining playoff race.

MLS NEXT Pro’s Eastern conference is divided into the Central and Northeast divisions. The two division winners qualify for the playoffs, as do the next two teams in the conference with the next highest point totals irrespective of division.

Northeast division

Central division

New England Revolution II

NEn2

Chicago Fire II

Chi2

New York City FC II

NYC2

Columbus Crew 2

CC2

Philadelphia Union II

Phi2

FC Cincinnati 2

FCC2

Rochester NY FC

RNY

Inter Miami II

Mia2

Toronto FC II

TFC2

Orlando City B

OCB

In the unlikely event that Union II win all its remaining three, they are in. Taking all three points from Rochester next Sunday afternoon seems crucial since winning at New England seems problematic, but it will be a large challenge. The Empire Staters have already shut them out twice in Rochester.

The next two of Union II’s remaining three are at home while the finale is away. Each occurs as the second match of a Saturday-Sunday pair played the day after the first team has done so. And since the first team has no more midweek matches, extra help to Union II from first team reserves is possible. Whether giving it fits in with the technical staff’s player development priorities will be discovered on the day.

  • The first match pair, September 3 (when the Union play at Red Bull) and 4 (when Union II host Rochester), is within range of the first team’s bus ride of home the night of its game.
  • The second, September 10 (first team hosts Orlando) and 11 (second team also hosts Orlando) has both teams at home one after the other.
  • The third, September 17 (first team at Atlanta) and 18 (second team at New England) would have to fly players from Atlanta to Boston early Sunday morning. Using commercial aviation, it would be tight but possible should the organization choose to do it.

Clubs are ranked by the actual points in hand .

29-Aug

Team Pts in hand Remaining

Home; Away

Matches

Max fut pts

Max tot fut

pts

1

CC2 47 2H; 1@ 9

56

2

TFC2 35 2H; 2@ 12

47

3

Phi2 34 2H; 1@ 9

43

4

RNY 33 1H; 2@ 9

42

5

Mia2 32 2H; 2@ 12

44

6

NYC2 30 1H; 2@ 9

39

7

NEn2 29 2H; 1@ 9

38

8

Chi2 25 1H; 2@ 9

34

9

OCB 25 1H; 2@ 9

34

10

FCC2 17 2H; 1@ 9

26

FCC2 are eliminated; CC2 has clinched the central division.

 

29-Aug

Team Each team’s points opportunities

 

Guesses

 

Est. Final   Home; Away
Pts

Place

 

1

CC2 Chi2 @Mia2 FCC2

47+3+1+3=

54

1

2H; 1@

2

TFC2 @Mia2 RNY Mia2 @OCB

35+0+1+3+1=

40

2*-3

2H; 2@

3

Phi2 RNY OCB @NEn2

34+3+3+0=

40

2-3

2H; 1@

4

RNY @Phi2 @TFC2 NYC2

33+0+1+3=

37

4-5

1H; 2@

5

Mia2 TFC2 CC2 @TFC2 @Chi2

32+3+1+0+1=

37

4**-5

2H; 2@

6

NYC2 @FCC2 NEn2 @RNY

30+3+1+0=

34

7

1H; 2@

7

NEn2 OCB @NYC2 Phi2

29+3+1+3=

36

6

2H; 1@

8

OCB @NEn2 @Phi2 TFC2

26+0+0+1=

27

8

1H; 2@

9

Chi2 @CC2 @FCC2 Mia2

24+0+1+1=

26

9

1H; 2@

10

FCC2 NYC2 Chi2 @CC2

17+0+1+0=

18

10

2H; 1@

*Goal difference tiebreaker. **Regulation wins tiebreaker.

In the unlikely event the guesses above prove correct, Columbus would win the Central Division, and, probably, Toronto would win the Northeast division over Union II on the second tiebreaker, goal difference. The next two highest point totals in the conference would be Union II, and then Miami II because Miami would displace Rochester on the first tiebreaker, total wins in regulation.

The estimated margin over Miami would be three points. Union II has earned three extra points from its three penalty kick shootout wins in four opportunities. That 75% success is a credit to the practice routines and statistical analyses of the technical staff, particularly the individuals focused on goalkeeping.

Playoff seeding is based on total points, so Columbus would host Miami, and Toronto would host Philadelphia in the first round in the East. No dates for the playoff fixtures have been made public.

3 Comments

  1. The two losses in Rochester are somewhat of an illusion compared with Sunday’s game assuming most or all of the players with first team contracts play. Turner, Craig, Sorenson, and Donovan were the only first teamers who played in the first game (and that was before Donovan had signed with the first team). And the second game was just Turner, Sorenson, and Bueno.
    .
    So having a full lineup and playing at home could make a huge difference.
    .
    The Orlando game will be interesting since both teams will be without their first choice goalkeepers due to red cards.
    .
    And New England will be without two players when Union II face them, again due to red cards.

    • Excellent point about the New England red cards. A most useful reminder.
      .
      The point Andy makes about a full lineup of first-team reserves is an interesting one.
      .
      To me the inferences I draw initially from the lineup they sent to NYC FC II last Wednesday suggest the technical staff may not load the lineup against Rochester with first-teamers. They could, but they may choose not to.
      .
      It is decision time for the 2022 Union II roster, and according to the standards of fairness that applied in coach Burke’s time several of the nine are still short game minutes. I have no idea whether Ernst Tanner is willing to make decisions using fewer game minutes.
      .
      MLS NEXT Pro provides better competition than the local and regional 4th division teams that would make up a postseason schedule of friendlies that would keep the development process going in October and November as Tanner may well want.
      .
      All coaches know you learn little about your players against an opponent that does not expose and test your weaknesses. You still learn about individuals’ mental and physical development. But the tougher the opponent the more you learn.

      • I was also thinking that if the Union II make the playoffs, they are very likely one and done assuming the playoffs begin the weekend of September 24. The Union have a friendly that weekend and will likely be without several starters since it’s an international weekend. That means that all of the first teamers will have to play significant minutes in that game and won’t be able to play in a Union II game.
        .
        I’m also thinking that if the Union II somehow get a home playoff game they should combine it with the first team friendly if they can.

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