Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. NYCFC

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: NYCFC (Eastern Conference third seed) vs. Philadelphia Union (Eastern Conference first seed)

What: MLS Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference Final

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Sunday, October 30, 8 p.m. (kickoff 8:25 p.m.)

Watch: FS1, Fox Deportes

Whistle: Allen Chapman (REF), Kyle Atkins (AR1), Cameron Blanchard (AR2), Victor Rivas (4TH), Edvin Jurisevic (VAR), Tom Supple (AVAR)

A rematch of the 2021 Eastern Conference Final awaits in Chester Pennsylvania on Sunday night, as NYCFC travel south to face the Philadelphia Union.

NYCFC fans will remember the trip fondly as last year brought a come from behind win en route to their first MLS Cup.

Philadelphia fans will remember their COVID-stricken side fighting valiantly for 90 minutes at home.

A scintillating matchup awaits, as the Union look for redemption and revenge for last year, while NYCFC look for vindication with another win in Chester.

Scouting Report: NYCFC

New York City are no strangers to playoff success. After winning MLS Cup on the road last year the Pigeons should not be taken lightly. Despite losing their head coach in Ronny Delia and leading scorer Taty Castellanos, they find themselves right back in the Eastern Conference Final. A slow start with new coach Nick Cushing has corrected into a memorable playoff run.

Looking to put the ball in the net for NYCFC is forward Heber who replaced Taty Castellanos in the middle of the year. Heber scored eight goals during the regular season, adding two goals in two games during the playoffs. Also an option in attack for the Pigeons is Talles Mango who has notched seven goals and ten assists in the regular season, along with one playoff goal. Maxi Moralez remains the most dangerous attacker in the NYCFC front trio, with two goals and nine assists during the regular season and two goals in the MLS playoffs so far.

Shielding the backline for NYCFC are Nicolas Acevedo and Santi Rodriguez, who will look to win balls and bring physicality to the center of the field.

In defense is Alex Callens, Thiago Martins, Maxime Chanot and Anton Tinnerholm. The backline has proved stout for the playoffs, only surrendering one goal in their two matches. Sean Johnson is in goal, as the USMNT fringe goalkeeper looks to keep a clean sheet against a potent Philadelphia attack.

Injury Report: Out: Alfredo Morales; Questionable: Tayvon Gray

Suspension Report:  None

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Another year of playoff action in the Conference Final has come for the Union, who will be looking to avenge their Easten Conference Final loss to NYCFC last year with a run to MLS Cup.

Helping the Union cruise to an unbeaten home record in the regular season has been their three-headed monster in attack. Julian Carranza notched 14 goals and nine assists while Daniel Gazdag put together 22 goals and nine assists. Gazdag will be looking to prove he belonged in MVP finalist voting after not making the top five earlier this week. Mikael Uhre put together a productive year for a newcomer, scoring 13 goals and six assists.

Alejandro Bedoya and Jose Martinez will likely join Gazdag in the midfield, with Beodya returning to the lineup after Jack McGlynn filled in for him in the Conference Semifinals. Leon Flach will also start in the midfield as a more defensive presence, even after notching the game winning goal last week, while Paxten Aaronson and Quinn Sullivan continue to be options off the bench.

The backline for Philadelphia has been putting together a historic season, giving up the fewest goals in an MLS campaign. A large part of the success is the center back pairing of Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott, with Glesnes recently winning MLS Defender of the Year. All-Star Kai Wagner has been a threat in the Philadelphia attack as well as great defensively, collecting 15 assists from his left back position. Right back will likely feature Olivier Mbaizo, with Nathan Harriel an option off the bench. In net for Philadelphia is three-time MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake, who collected 16 clean sheets this season.

Injury Report: Questionable: Alejandro Bedoya

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup: Defense creating offense

Both of these teams like to counter and score in transition, and both know each other very well. Look for a midfield turnover to spark a chance for either side.

Player to Watch: Mikael Uhre

Uhre has one MLS Playoff game under his belt so far, and Philadelphia will need its attack clicking to advance to MLS Cup. Look Uhre’s runs in behind to unlock the NYCFC defense and help set up chances for Philadelphia.

Prediction:  Philadelphia Union 1-0 NYCFC

An end to end match with multiple chances doesn’t provide many goals. Philly gets another lone goal to advance to MLS Cup

Philadelphia = -120
NYCFC = +290
Draw = +265


  1. Chanot’s injury vs Montreal didn’t look good. Wonder if he’ll play, or they will revert to a back for as they did last week.

  2. Murphthesurf says:

    Stay healthy!
    Payback is a bitch !
    Welcome back Captain !

  3. Win.

  4. PaulContinuum22 says:

    PAY-FORKING-BACK. This is a virtual machine-gun-the-lifeboats moment.

    Official crew:
    REF: Allen Chapman
    Assistants: Kyle Atkins, Cameron Blanchard
    4th: Victor Rivas
    VAR: Edvin Jurisevic, Yom Supple

  5. Does anyone have a book on Allen Chapman as it relates to our past games with NYC? Does he know the bad blood, antics, distractions in play, etc? Will he shell out red cards in a hotly contested playoff game??

    Ref aside, I think we put 2 or 3 in on Sunday, just because I expect NYC will play much more open than Cincy. To that note, I think if we score first/early, we pitch a shutout and send the soob into a frenzy unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

    If nyc scores first, I’d expect them to park the bus for good chunks of the game, and maybe we go to PKs for a thrilling finish.

    Official prediction: 3-0 … NYC always loses their cool vs the U… LETS GO U

    • If you search Twitter for #doop and Allen Chapman’s name, you’ll find some stats on fouls called, yellows, reds, penalties awarded, home and away, etc., including when these teams have played each other.
      From memory, slightly favorable to Union.
      He refereed the LA/LA match last week and, I thought, did an excellent job keeping that chippy match from getting out of control.

    • Last 3 Union games with Chapman at the whistle were the 6-0 game (oh wait, I guess I need to specify there…the one against Colorado), the 0-2 win in Portland, and the PK shootout against Nashville during last year’s playoffs.

  6. PaulContinuum22 says:

    Chapman finished 2nd in MLS’ Ref of the Year voting today. Ismail Elfath won.

  7. OneManWolfpack says:

    Let’s do it boys

  8. From AFP: “City have Maxi Moralez, Talles Magno and Tayvon Gray all doubtful for the game however after missing training this week with injuries.”

    Bedoya trained this week and according to Curtin had no complaints after a full heavy training session. Expected to play.

  9. This.

    • Well after watching the East Chip on the way back from a soccer tourney in VA, we’ll be there this year.

      All of us fans share an undefeated record at home when we go to the games at the Park so we got that going for us!

  10. FCdelcofella says:

    Just play your game. That’s all Union need to do. Don’t get involved with the head game BS that NYFC will try to play. Play hard, play fast, play smart and good things will happen. C’mon boys!!!

  11. PaulContinuum22 says:

    The only legit badass that came from the Austin. area wad Stone Cold Steve Austin.

    LA it is,then. FCcck.

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