Match previews / MLS / Union

Match Preview: Philadelphia Union vs FC Cincinnati

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union vs FC Cincinnati

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When: Saturday, September 16th, 7:39 Kickoff

Watch: Apple TV (Free)

Whistle: REF: Ismail Elfath AR1: Nick UrangaAR2: Kathryn Nesbitt 4TH: Jeremy Scheer VAR: Geoff Gamble AVAR: Robert Schaap

Eastern Conference leaders FC Cincinnati come into town Saturday evening to take on Philadelphia Union.

The Union have won four out of five all-time home games against Cincinnati, including their 1-0 playoff win last October.  They have kept a clean sheet in all four of those matches.

Cincinnati have suffered just five defeats in their last 27 road games dating back to last April ( 10W, D12).  Only the 2011-12 Seattle Sounders had fewer losses over a 27 game stretch in the post-shootout era (4).

Scouting Report: FC Cincinnati

Cincinnati’s strong 2023 regular season has sputtered a bit as of late, having lost two out of their last four matches, including their most recent match (0-1 at home to Orlando). Yet they still hold a strong four point lead atop the Eastern Conference (and Supporters Shield) and look to be on their way to clinching both.

Cincinnati’s success has run through their star, central attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta, who boasts 12 goals and 8 assists on the season.  Unfortunately for Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan, Acosta will be unavailable for Saturday’s game against the Union due to yellow card accumulation.

With Acosta unavailable, Cincinnati will need to rely on other supporting cast members to generate offense.

Outside back/midfielder Alvaro Barreal is second on the team with five assists and will be relied upon to move the ball into the attacking third.  Although Cincinnati has mimicked Philadelphia’s style over the past few seasons, they tend to play a bit wider than the Union diamond midfield, so Barreal and his counterpart on the right Santiago Arias should see plenty of the ball in this match.

Up top, American striker Brandon Vazquez has found the net five times this year and has added two assists. Along side Vazquez is former Union man Sergio Santos who has netted four goals for the orange and blue, as has newly signed DP Aaron Boupendza

Player Availability: Acosta (OUT – Yellow card accumulation), Ordonez (PROBABLE – Leg), Badji (PROBABLE – Quad), Jimenez (OUT, Leg)

Scouting Report: Philadelphia Union

Coming out of the international break, the Union are expected to have all of their international call-ups back in action.

Head coach Jim Curtin has stated that Hungarian Daniel Gazdag, who had been dealing with an ongoing leg injury, is healthy and has been fully in training. Additionally, Venezuelan Jesus Bueno, who had suffered a knee injury during training with the Venezuelan National Team, is recovering well and is expected to play on Saturday.

However, just as Cincinnati will be without one of their leaders, Luciano Acosta, due to yellow card accumulation, so too will the Union as Alejandro Bedoya will serve his one game suspension after picking up a yellow against the Red Bulls. Leon Flach has again been ruled out due to a sports hernia.

Despite missing both Flach and Bedoya, the Union will be aided by their biggest advantage, which is playing at home. The team has won 18 out of their last 21 home matches (D2, L1), including the last six in a row.

Player Availability: Flach (OUT, Hernia), Bedoya (OUT – Yellow card accumulation)

Matchup to Watch: Midfield

As’s Matt Doyle points out in his MatchDay 32 preview, Cincinnati are one of the widest playing teams in the league, while the Union are one the league’s narrowest.  Whichever team’s midfield is able to execute their respective playing styles most effectively should have the edge.

Player to Watch: Daniel Gazdag

Gazdag should be busy both offensively and defensively in this match.

Prediction: Philadelphia Union 2  – 0 FC Cincinnati 

The Union keep things rolling at home.


  1. I am a little surprised that the Union odds to win are so strong. I guess playing at home and Acosta being out does that. We need this win…

  2. At this point in their careers, I would take missing Ale over missing Acosta any day of the week. Hopefully that will help the Union tomorrow night.

  3. Murphthesurf says:

    Come on the U ! It’s time to shine !

    • Don’t hold your breath bro. Messi FC is taking the title. Union can finish 1st in the east but will not win. Apple will be sure of it.

  4. The Union Jack says:

    It’s in added time at this game and it confirms that Jim is a really good MLS manager and that is all.

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