CONCACAF Champions League / Match previews / Soccer on TV

Match preview: Alianza FC vs Philadelphia Union

Who: Alianza FC vs Philadelphia Union

What: Concacaf Champions League, Round of 16

Where: Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador, El Salvador

When: Tuesday, March 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET

Watch: FS1, TUDN

Whistle:  César Arturo Ramos Palazuelos, Alberto Morín Méndez, Marco Antonio Bisguerra Mendiola, Daniel Quintero Huitrón, Adonai Escobedo González, Katia Itzel García

The Philadelphia Union will kick-off their 2023 Concacaf Champions League campaign tonight when they take on Alianza FC of El Salvadore’s Primera Division.

This will be the first of two legs, with the second leg taking place in Chester on March 14.  The series winner will be determined by aggregate goals over both legs.  If aggregate goals are tied, the team with the higher number of away goals will advance.  If away-goals are tied, the game will immediately go to a penalty shootout.

Scouting Report: Alianza FC

Alianza currently sit atop El Salvador’s Primera Division with a 5-4-0 record and are coming off of a 2-0 away win at FAS.

Defense has been the name of the game thus far this season, with Alianza having conceded only twice through their first nine games, helping contribute to their +11 goal differential.

Offensively, attacker Michell Mercado leads the team with five goals, though it was attacker Marvin Monterrosa and midfielder Oscar Rodriuez who netted their goals in their 2-0 victory over the weekend.

Those who followed the U.S. Men’s National Team through World Cup qualifying this past cycle may recognize a few names for Alianza, as several players featured for El Salvador against the U.S., including goalkeeper Mario Gonzalez, defender Alexander Larin, midfielder Narciso Orellana, and forward Rodolfo Zelaya.

However, Larin and midfielder Juan Carlos Portillo both picked up injuries during their match against FAS and are questionable for tonight’s match.

In addition to battling the Alianza players, it appears that the Union may also be battling a less-than-stellar Estadio Cuscatlán playing field.

Last Wednesday’s home game against Isidro Metapán was the first of the season to be played on the field.  After a concert took place at the stadium on December 18, no events were scheduled in order to give time for field repairs.  However, Alianza FC head coach Eduardo Lara is not convinced the field is playable, despite Concacaf giving the go ahead.

Speaking to the press after Wednesday’s home game, Lara stated, “The state of the stadium is unfortunate. On the field you can’t handle the ball, and our philosophy is to have the ball on the ground, but in these circumstances it becomes difficult. The conditions of the field were not suitable for our game.”

Sounds like it will be a quintessential Concacaf affair.

Injury Report: Larin (Questionable), Portillo (Questionable)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union currently sit 7th in MLS’ Eastern Conference after two weeks of play.  After a positive 4-1 opening day victory at home against the Columbus Crew, the Union lacked much bite in their second match, as they fell 0-2 on the road against Inter Miami CF on Saturday night.

After a quick 3-day turnaround, head coach Jim Curtin and his team will look to put Saturday’s loss in the rear view mirror.

To some Union supporters surprise, Curtin elected to send out his regular starting eleven against Miami on Saturday rather than implement some amount of squad rotation in preparation for this evening’s match.

He will most certainly make some changes to the starting eleven tonight.

Union fans can reasonably expect to see Jack McGlynn featured in the midfield as a replacement for either Leon Flach or Alejandro Bedoya, the latter of which went 86 minutes against Miami. McGlynn’s strength as a passer and ability to spread the ball around in attack make him an attractive option for Curtin as his side looks to net those oh so important away goals.

Midfielder Andres Perea is also a strong option to replace Flach or Bedoya in a shuttler position of the midfield diamond.

As attacking-minded options, Joaquin Torres, Quinn Sullivan and Chris Donovan are all available for selection.

Defensively, newcomer Damian Lowe is still waiting for his first minutes as a member of the team.  Nathan Harriel is also looking to see the field for the first time this year.

It is worth noting that Jim Curtin toyed with a 5-back formation at times during the preseason.  A first leg, away match in El Salvador is an intriguing scenario to deploy such a tactic and Curtin has the personnel to execute it.

Andre Blake should be between the posts.

Injury Report: None

Match-Up to Watch: Rotated defense

Player to Watch: Daniel Gazdag

Prediction: Alianza 1 – 1 Union






  1. SilverRey says:

    I am very interested to see who Jim trots out there tonight. Honestly it’s a little hard to see him moving away from his 11 to begin the match. It’s still early and they would rotate for the Chicago game under this scenario.
    But he has been talking up others players leading up to tonight, and I would love to see him trust the rest of the team more in these situations.
    And I want to be able to trust them too.

  2. Chris Gibbons says:

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t though.

    He wants points here so will start a top lineup. Or, he believes they can get points with the second team and he starts that one instead.

    If they drop points in either case, he loses. First, that he could’ve rested guys in Miami to save their legs for Tuesday. Second, how could the second team be ready when they’ve barely played yet?

    Pitchforks for everyone, no matter what.

  3. Andy Muenz says:

    The comments about the field conditions suggest even more that Blake should probably be the only starter from Saturday to also start tonight.

  4. Andy Muenz says:

    8 changes tonight. Only Blake, Elliott, and Wagner among the regular starters.
    Lowe, Harriel, Bueno, McGlynn, Perea, Torres, Donovan, and Sullivan are all starters.

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