Match previews

Match Preview: Philadelphia Union vs New York City FC

Photo: Stephen Speer

Who: Philadelphia Union (4th in the East, 11-4-7) vs. New York City FC (13th in the East, 5-11-7)

What: MLS Regular Season, Matchday 26

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pennsylvania

When: Saturday, July 15, 7:30 PM

Watch: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV

Whistle: Alex Chilowiczl,  Matthew Nelson,  Adam Wienckowski,  Elvis Osmanovic, Sorin Stoica, Mike Kampmeinert

Philadelphia host New York City FC Saturday, in a matchday 26 clash between the two east coast rivals. Both clubs will be looking to turn around recent results with the Union dropping two of the last three and NYCFC only having one win in the last eight. To each team’s credit, the Union won their last match out against Nashville and none of City’s last eight were losses (seven ties, one win) but still, for both teams three points will feel like a must heading into the critically important back third of the season.

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

For all intents and purposes, the Union look like they’re going to be alright. While alarm bells might have been sounding for some after the squad dropped two straight, a gritty win against 3rd place Nashville helped to quell concerns and the return of Andre Blake will only serve to improve the feeling of optimism around the club. The Union will look to keep things rolling against a struggling NYCFC squad that hasn’t looked convincing on any part of the pitch so far this season.

The biggest squad news heading into the weekend is undoubtedly the return of starting keeper Andre Blake. After missing five games due to international duty for Jamaica in the Gold Cup, Blake will return to his position between the posts for a Union squad that at times has looked lost without him. Blake’s return combined with NYCFC’s lackluster attack should be good news for the Union. 

On the other side of squad news, forward Julian Carranza will miss the City match thanks to a red card picked up at the end of the Nashville game. It will be interesting to see how Jim Curtin fills the absence, with Chris Donovan as the only natural replacement in attack. Despite a pair of starts early in the season, Donovan has picked up only sporadic minutes since. Starting against a shaky City backline could be exactly what the young forward needs.

Editor’s note: Jim Curtin said at his weekly press conference that Quinn Sullivan would likely start in Carranza’s place.

Injury report: none

Scouting report: New York City Football Club

So far, this has not been NYCFC’s year. They sit third from the bottom of the East with 26 points, and a negative four goal differential. The club has failed to mount any kind of positive form throughout the season thanks in large part to poor game management that has seen them drop points by conceding after the 90th minute on multiple occasions. Despite not being able to string together more than two wins in a row, City are unbeaten in eight games and only three points out of the last playoff spot in the East. Recent #9 signing Monsef Bakar will give City a boost in attack eventually, but won’t be in the side when they travel to Philadelphia. 

Instead the Union will face a City squad that is seemingly stuck in neutral. The Pigeons average almost exactly a goal per game, with midfielder Gabriel Pereira the only one with more than five on the season (6), and the rest of their scoring coming from committee. Needless to say it’s not a good look when your highest scoring forward has only three goals to his name. 

Defensively, City have at worst looked porous and undisciplined, and at best looked mediocre. There’s little to think that will change in Philadelphia, especially with starting left back Braian Cufré out thanks to yellow card accumulation. 

Injury report: Out: Thiago Martins (knee surgery)

Match-up to watch: NYC FC vs Themselves

There’s seldom been a team in Major League Soccer that’s looked so blatantly. . . lackluster? On paper, there’s nothing abhorrently wrong with them. Sure the defense hasn’t been great in clutch situations and the finishing could be better, but when you look at their results it really isn’t as bad as it could be. When the team does decide to show up, they often look to outplay their opponents and pick up solid results against good teams. If City can overcome their propensity to get in their own way, they may be able to give the Union a close contest.

Player(s) to watch: Chris Donovan

Assuming the 20 year old gets the nod against NYCFC, it should be a fun watch. Donovan has started only two games for the first team, but he’s scored four in his last three MLS Next Pro games and clearly has an attacking eye. Watching him work against a depleted NYCFC squad will at worst give Union fans a look at one of their top young talents, and at best be a treat. 

If Donovan doesn’t start, then Andre Blake. Who doesn’t love watching Andre play?

Prediction: Philadelphia 3–0 NYCFC

It’s the classic homer 3-0 pick. Is that a thing?

There isn’t much that indicates City will put up any real fight against the Union, even with an attacking piece missing for the home side. Look for the ball to be shared around the Union attack and midfield, and a comfortable win for the Union as they head into the Leagues Cup break. (Is a full tournament in a month a break?)


  1. Matt Custer says:

    Yes, I’d like to see Donovan unleashed, but I also think Sullivan has earned a shot – he certainly has one.

  2. Andy Muenz says:

    I think Sullivan is the better choice to start with Donovan coming in off the bench. Speed is a major asset for both Donovan and Uhre so I think starting off with the skill option (Sullivan) and then doubling up on speed once NYC is tired is the way to go.

  3. Its interesting how different those guys are. Donovan reminds me of Corey Burke & Conor Casey…. and Sullivan a ‘sniper’ & passer, more like McGlynn… can’t think of any former Union players like him.

  4. Would love to see McGlynn get the start too and see if McGlynn/Sullivan can inject some youthful dynamism and quality on the ball in a team that has looked stale and predictable.

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    Blake is starting but Lowe isn’t even in the 20.

  6. The person who does the color commentary on Union RADIO broadcasts speaks over the play, giving her opinion, for minutes, at the expense of RADIO play by play game calling.

    I get it. Probably came from TV, but PLEASE SHUT UP AS PLAY IS HAPPENING… or are you auditioning for AppleTV?

    Let Dave Leno do his great job on RADIO PLAY BY PLAY… ALL play by play… and get all comments in during the break, OK?

    And Dave…. GREAT broadcasting…. but as the classic broadcaster you’re becoming, please do NOT get so excited for NON UNION GOALS. You scream as loud for opponents goals as you do for Unions!

    But man, great job. I was in DC watching another soccer game tonight, has Dave on app, ear buds, giving me the call of the Union game.

    Was in heaven! Great night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *