Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. CF Monterrey

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union vs. CF Monterrey

What: Leagues Cup third place match

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pa.

When: Saturday, August 19, 6:00 p.m. Eastern

Watch: Apple TV MLS Season Pass

Whistle: Not available at time of publication.

This article has been updated after time of publication with information from Jim Curtin’s pre-match press conference.

These days in the United States, third-place matches in championship tournaments feel prehistoric and vestigial. They used to exist according to old documents and senior citizen memories. But they have gone extinct.

How many readers previously knew that Croatia beat Morocco 2-1 for third last winter in Qatar?

Like FIFA, Concacaf still offers third-place games and mandated that Leagues Cup must have one, producing produce a third qualifier to make up first round numbers for 2024’s Concacaf Champions Cup. Hence Philadelphia and Monterrey must climb back onto their bicycles after having wiped out, spectacularly in the Union’s case, and pedal across the finish line.

Scouting Report: Monterrey

As Liga MX’s 2023 Clausura champion, Monterrey has already qualified for next year’s Champions Cup.

It had played three matches only in the 2023 Apertura of the 2023-24 Liga MX season before breaking away to compete in Leagues Cup. Because it advanced to a seventh game, it has already postponed two Apertura matches, games  four and five against Tijuana on Friday August 18 and Toluca on Tuesday August 22. It will resume play with match six on Sunday August 27 against Cruz Azul and plays roughly once a week for the four weeks thereafter.

Facing that schedule and having already qualified, Monterrey has an opportunity to rest its more stressed players. Reports are that head coach Fernando Ortiz has told the media he intends to do so. Its travel during the tournament has been extensive. From Monterrey to Salt Lake City, to Seattle, to Portland, Ore., to Dallas, to Los Angeles, and to Philadelphia is slightly less than 8, 700 miles in roughly 26 days. And then there’s going back home, which adds roughly 2,000 miles more.

Ortiz has been using a 4-4-2 double six formation, sometimes called an “empty bucket,” because there is no obvious central attacking midfielder.

Perhaps Ortiz will deploy his first-line defenders with his second line midfielders and strikers. He will exploit an excellent opportunity to rest his starters and condition several reserves  as preparation for the rigors of the remaining 14 games of the Apertura.

Scouting Report: Philadelphia

After a bad loss head coach Jim Curtin emphasizes bouncing back. He says he wants the Union to qualify for Champions Cup.

Perhaps the only good news from the Miami loss is that Daniel Gazdag played the full 90 and Alejandro Bedoya returned for the last 20 minutes.

Jim Curtin announced that his prematch press conference that Julian Carranza has been ruled out, but summer signing Tai Baribo is available, having completed the necessary immigration processes. Other striker options include Mikael Uhre, Quinn Sullivan, Chris Donovan, Joaquin Torres, and Jeremy Rafanello, probably in that order.

Monterrey is a sophisticated side that normally plays a level higher than the Union. They may not punish mistakes as lethally as Miami did, but they will punish mistakes. Philadelphia makes fewer mistakes in its more familiar shape and begin in the 4-4-2 narrow diamond with only Carranza missing from the best XI. Bedoya must come off at halftime.

Injury report: Out – Julian Carranza.

Match-up to watch: The midfields, especially after Bedoya leaves.

Player to watch: Jose Martinez, because an empty bucket puts extra stress on a single six’s reading who is coming at him from where.

Prediction: Union 2–1  as the club partially redeems its Miami rotten egg.


  1. Andy Muenz says:

    So you’re saying that by the time Monterrey flies home, these two teams will have flown a combined 10,700 miles?
    When something such as a CCC bid is at stake, a 3rd place match makes sense. And it won’t be the first one of the day as Sweden and Australia meet in Brisbane.
    I know it’s a bit early to be thinking this (and the Union are highly unlikely to do it anyway), but if they win and clinch a CCC berth, would it make sense to consider throwing the game next weekend in DC to make it more difficult for Miami to make the playoffs?

    • The way we’ve been scoring… we won’t have to “throw it”… it’ll happen! 😉

    • Hehe, but I wouldn’t throw the DC match as tempting as it might sound. There’s too many games left, and we also need points.
      . . .
      I’m also sadly old enough to remember the ‘Disgrace of Gijón’in 1982 when West Germany and Austria concocted a 1-0 result to knock upstart Algeria out of the WC. That vilified and tainted West Germany through the final where they lost anyway.
      . . .
      The CCC is the whole ball game tomorrow. As sore as I am over the Miami performance, qualifying tomorrow is a real prize and will make the LC campaign a success.
      . . .
      If Monterrey throws us the predicted bone tomorrow of fielding reserves given the match doesn’t matter to them, the CCP is there for the taking. Losing again tomorrow would be totally unacceptable.

  2. While a win may feel as exciting as being handed a participation trophy, the fact remains that qualifying for a CCC berth is a bfd.

  3. Curtin said in his presser that Baribo will be available and on the bench for today’s game.

  4. The home side better get its goddamn shit together, or else this season is going to…

    • They shit the bed in one of the two biggest matches they ever played. The damage is done. It’s going to take a long long time to try to begin to right it.

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