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Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC

Photo credit: Howie Pollard

Who: Philadelphia Union (1st in the East, 60 points, 17-9-4) vs. Orlando City SC (5th in the East, 42 points, 12-6-10)
What: 2022 regular season game
Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA
When: Saturday September 10, 7:38PM
Watch: PHL17, Fox 35Plus, ESPN+
Whistle: Armando Villarreal; Andrew Bigelow, Diego Blas; Sergiii Demianchuk; Jose Carlos Rivero, Cory Richardson

The Union are home again this weekend, facing the only (currently) playoff-bound team left on their 2022 calendar.

Scouting report: Orlando City SC

Apparently FootballUser.com does not have Orlando City jerseys

The big news down in Florida happened Wednesday night, where the Lions prevented Sacramento Republic FC from becoming the first non-MLS team since the 1999 Rochester Rhinos to win the US Open Cup. Union fans know all too well how hard it can be to go all the way in that tournament, and they deserve full credit for being the first Florida team to win it. (Though history buffs may point out that the St. Petersburg Kickers won the National Amateur Cup in 1989, which would eventually become the USOC.)

To achieve that, head coach Óscar Pareja made a significant tactical shift abandoning the 4-2-3-1 Orlando City has used recently for a 4-3-3. The shift paid off, with Orlando controlling the game even if they couldn’t get on the board until late in the game. But it makes scouting the team a little difficult. It could be the 4-3-3 was a one-off gambit to make a bid for a trophy. Or it could be the new look for Orlando going forward. But it seems more likely to be the former, and the projected lineup reflects that. A return to 4-2-3-1 suits Orlando’s roster best, and allows them to focus on points of strength. So watch for Facundo Torres to try to create trouble on the Union back line in order to create opportunities that Mauricio Pereyra can take advantage of.

Of course there’s no ignoring the potential for a championship hangover. Pareja started a lineup of primarily first-pick players, and they played for seventy five minutes before earinng the go-ahead goal. Furthermore the final goal of the game happened in the sixth minute of stoppage time. So Orlando didn’t have an easy time of it in their mid-week final, even before you consider the inevitable celebrations after the game.

So there’s a lot of unknowns going into tomorrow, but we know this- Orlando is tired.

  • Injury report: Joey DeZart (MF, right knee), Alexandre Pato (FW, right knee), Jack Lynn (FW, left thigh) Questionable: Robin Jansson (DF, right lower leg)
  • Suspended: None, César Araújo (MF) and Antonio Carlos (DF) in danger of accumulation suspension.
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Potential Union Lineup

In contrast to the Orlando unknowns, the Union are pretty well known at this point. Paul Rushing deserves credit for more than just his brawling, as the Union’s exceptional run of health continues, and the only discipline concerns are yellow card accumulation threats for Bedoya and Burke. So there’s every reason to expect head coach Jim Curtin to send out a familiar lineup, with the reader likely able to correctly guess nine of the starting XI.

Luckily those two positions of uncertainty are less about who can fill the role, rather which very capable player will fill the role on Saturday night. Olivier Mbaizo would be a logical pick for right back at home, especially as Orlando’s timid offense isn’t likely to exploit his defensive shortcomings. But really would there be anything wrong with starting Nate Harriel instead? No.

So the only real question is in midfield, and whether to start homegrown Jack McGlynn or dual-national Leon Flach. Of the potential answers, allow me to suggest this- both. Alejandro Bedoya is one yellow card away from suspension, and with Orlando known for getting chippy with Union players it might be wise to keep him out of trouble for the night. And doing so would allow Flach to play box-to-box, a role he may be more qualified for than the more offensive-oriented one he has to play when Bedoya is on the field. Leaving room for Jack McGlynn, a rising star in the Union’s offensive midfield, on the other side of the midfield. And really who doesn’t want that?

  • Injury report: None Questionable: None
  • Suspended: None, Alejandro Bedoya (MF) and Cory Burke (FW) in danger of accumulation suspension.
Key matchup: LAFC at FC Dallas

Kicking off exactly one hour after the Union game starts (8:38PM ET) the MLS leaders head down to Texas to face an opponent the Union know won’t be a pushover. If the Union win and LAFC loses, Philly would pull ahead in the Supporters Shield race. And after this coming Tuesday night in St. Paul, LAFC will no longer have a game in hand.

Player to watch: Mauricio Pereyra

While the Union should be able to handle Orlando offensively, their Uruguayan designated player midfielder is more than capable of making trouble for any team. He leads the team in assists and key passes, demonstrating he’s more than capable as a playmaker. Granted that talent is squandered on Orlando’s less-than-stellar striker corps, but still he can make the Union back line work harder than they have in some time.

Prediction: Philadelphia 2-0 Orlando

With a middling defense and tepid offense, Orlando shouldn’t really pose a challenge for the Union. In fact if played right this could be a situation where the Union run up the score against a team that isn’t a bottom-feeder. But Orlando have earned their place in the table, and unless their championship hangover is especially severe a comfortable but not spectacular win would be a welcome result.

7 Comments

  1. At the open practice today the first team appeared to be: Blake, Wagner, Elliott, Glesnes, Mbaizo, Martinez, Flach, Bedoya, Gazdag, Carranza, and Uhre.

  2. I unwittingly made a Dr’s. appointment for this morning and it took longer than expected. So I missed the open practice! If the U haven’t scored by the 60th min. Do you think Curtin injects the youth to speed up the game and abuse some tired legs? And does he do it regardless of the scoreline.

  3. Give me 10-0. Nothing else will do.

  4. Union are now 2 wins away from winning the East thanks to the Montreal draw against Columbus.

  5. I like how MLS.com forgot to even mention the Philly/Orlando game in their weekend match previews.

  6. MLS.com ignores the Union, and LAFC and Austin are the golden children of “Head Clown” Garber.

    12 points to run the schedule Boys! Hosting MLS Cup 2022 in Chester!

    Never look back!

    Doop!

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