Match previews / Union

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs LAFC

Photo: Stephen Speer

Who: Philadelphia Union vs. LAFC

What: Concacaf Champions League Semifinals

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Wednesday, April 26th, 9:00 p.m.

Watch: FS1, TUDN

Whistle: REF: Cesar Ramos; AR1: Alberto Morin; AR2: Marco Bisguerra; 4th: Marco Ortiz; VAR: Erick Miranda AVAR: Guillermo Pacheco

The Concacaf Champions League brings us a rematch of one of the most thrilling MLS Cup final ever played. Six months ago, LAFC prevailed over Philadelphia Union in kicks from the spot after double overtime, winning MLS Cup. The two will meet again, this time in Chester with another possible trophy on the line and a spot in the final. Expect a fast, competitive and highly emotional two legs from both sides in this semi-final matchup.

Scouting report: LAFC

Los Angeles will look to repeat their performance against Philadelphia last November, which saw them lift their first MLS Cup. LAFC will be without one of their saviors from that last match as Gareth Bale retired after MLS Cup. Star attacker Chico Arango also left the club in the off-season.

LAFC is still a very dangerous attacking side as one of the best dead ball teams in MLS last season. Everyone has heard of MLS Best XI attacker Carlos Vela, who tallied 12 goals and 11 assists during 2022. To start the 2023 season, Denis Bouanga has been the star early on. Bouanga has tallied 7 goals in his 8 league games, including the equalizer over the weekend against Nashville. Kwadwo Opoku is also a threat on the left side of the attack.

In the midfield are some more big names for Los Angeles, as Ilie Sanchez keys their attacks and linking play. On the left flank is USMNT man Kellyn Acosta, who can be dangerous on free kicks and covers ground in a fast paced game. On the right side is Jose Cifuentes, who has been the most dangerous getting into the attack, contributing seven goals and seven assists last year.

In defense, the center back pairing has been rotating among three players, but expect Giorgio Chiellini and Jesus Murillo to start. Chiellini may not possess the fitness to go a full 90 minutes, so expect Denil Maldonado to replace him at some point in the match. At right back is former all-star Ryan Hollingshead, who has found himself in a position battle with newcomer Sergi Palencia, as the two have been platooning in each match. Opposite them is Diego Palacios who can cover ground and get into the attack.

In net is MLS Cup hero and former Philadelphia Union man John McCarthy. The man known as “Lord Helmet” by Union fans will be looking to get the best of his former team once again.

Injury report: None

Suspension report:  None

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia will be looking at a revenge game as LAFC come to town. The Union will also be looking to advance to their first ever CONCACAF Champions League Final in franchise history.

The attack will feature Mikael Uhre, in-form after netting a hat-trick in his last outing. Julian Carranza will be his strike partner and Daniel Gazdag will look to play both strikers in and make late arriving runs towards goal.

The midfield will likely be unchanged for Philadelphia from the weekend. Jose Martinez will cover the base of the diamond, with Alejandro Bedoya and Jack McGlynn covering the sides. Leon Flach and Andres Perea are options off the bench.

In defense the Union will see Kai Wagner return to Champions League action on the left, while Olivier Mbaizo will be on the right. The centerback pairing of Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott will likely start, though Damian Lowe has been a stalwart defender in the competition. As always, Andre Blake will be in net for Philadelphia.

Injury report: None

Suspension report:  None

Key matchup: Possession battle

The only area where these teams differ is how they view possession. LAFC prefers to have the ball, particularly at their attackers’ feet. Philadelphia prefers to let opponents have the ball so they can force them into mistakes and hit quickly on counterattacks.

Player to watch: Mikael Uhre

Uhre didn’t have much of an impact in MLS Cup against LAFC, which should give him an extra boost. Coming off a hat trick he is the in-form man in the Union attack. Can he build on his weekend performance?

Prediction:  Philadelphia Union 1-0 LAFC

Philadelphia and LAFC batten down the hatches for the majority of the game until the Union hit on a counterattack. A nervy first half gets more open for the first goal.

Philadelphia = +290
LAFC = -130
Draw = +295


  1. Chris Gibbons says:

    Those betting odds are eye-opening.

  2. On the road, LA have one win (3-2 against the Galaxy) and three draws. Across those three draws, they only managed to score one goal. Their good form has really been built at home. This means the Union need to put a good dent in them at Subaru Park. A draw tonight won’t cut it.

    • I disagree. A 0-0 draw would put us in prime position to go up to LA and beat them on away goals. We’ve scored and gotten draws there the past 3 times we’ve played there and they will want to press and attach which will open up chances on the counter for us.

      • I would call a 0-0 draw tonight, clinging onto hope. Clearly, any draw with goals is worse on away goal tiebreakers. The prime position is scoring at least two and keeping a clean sheet. Then you grab a goal in LA and it gives them a mountain to climb.

  3. pragmatist says:

    I’d be shocked if this was a 1-goal game. There are way too many attacking options on the field for both clubs. I’m hoping for 3-1 because I think it will be a huge ask to keep LAFC off the board. If that’s the case, we’ll need at least a 2-goal cushion heading to LA.
    Hopefully, Saturday was the start of a return to form and not an aberration.

  4. I still can’t get over 9pm…Mickey mouse bull shit…not one actual major sports league in the country would start an east coast game at 9, regardless if it’s a different tournament than the season

    • Eric Boyle says:

      Pandering to the WC audience. For the LA game will they shift the time earlier for us, noooo. I bet it is an 11 PM ET start.

  5. PaulContinuum22 says:

    I want tsunamis of Union attacks. I want virtual machine gunning of LAFC lifeboats. I want RUTS (*). I want payback.
    Did I express myself clearly? 😉
    RUTS = Run Up the Score

    • That’s what I’m talking about. I want a beat down similar to the Atlanta CCL game. I want LAFC to lose their shit and go home in such a hole they play their second team next week.

      That’s what I want…but I’ll take a 1-0 clean sheet if that’s all we can get.

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