Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs Los Angeles FC

Photo: Stephen Speer

Who: Philadelphia Union vs. Los Angeles FC

What: Major League Soccer Regular Season

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When: Saturday, September 23, 7:30 p.m. Eastern

Watch: Apple TV, MLS Season Pass

Whistle: REF: Allen Chapman, AR1: Micheal Barwegen, AR2: Kevin Klinger, 4TH: Drew Fischer, VAR: Ismir Pekmic, AVAR: Craig Lowry

After securing a berth in the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs Wednesday with a draw in Charlotte, the Philadelphia Union will host LAFC Saturday as the club aims to solidify home field advantage for the opening round. While the stakes may not be as high as the last few times the two clubs have met, expect a physical and emotional match given the recent history between the two sides. 

Scouting Report: Los Angeles Football Club

Despite no longer being the darlings of Major League Soccer (thanks to Inter Miami’s signing of you know who), LAFC boasts as strong a side as ever. The club sits third in the West, only six points off of first place with a game in hand thanks to their deep Champions League run earlier in the year. Striker Denis Bounaga has been a large part of Los Angeles’ success, having scored 14 goals so far this year. That mark puts him second in the Golden Boot race. Bounaga had a brace against rivals Galaxy earlier this month before being blanked against St. Louis in a 0-0 draw. 

Instrumental in that scoreless draw against the top team in the conference was first choice keeper, Maxime Crepeau. Crepeau made his 2023 debut the match prior after missing most of the season as a result of his broken leg – which he injured in the MLS Cup Final last season against Philadelphia. 

Tactically, Los Angeles looks to pressure their opponents into defensive mistakes and take advantage of counter attacking opportunities. With Philadelphia giving up multiple chances to Charlotte’s press during their midweek fixture, anticipate Los Angeles attempting to come out on the front foot and force an early mistake from Philadelphia. 

Scouting Report: Philadelphia

For the sixth consecutive season, the Philadelphia Union are playoff bound. Despite only taking a point away from Charlotte, a team who currently sit below the playoff line, the Union had results elsewhere go their way Wednesday and punched their ticket to postseason. 

Wednesday night’s performance from the Boys in Blue featured a heavily rotated squad – partly on account of rest, and partly due to a red card suspension from Jack Elliot. Five new faces featured in the 11, including mid season addition Tai Baribo who made his Starting XI debut. The Union looked shaky at times under Charlotte’s press – something they’ll need to be aware of as LAFC enjoy playing a high press themselves – but should return a full strength XI to the pitch on Saturday (though Jose Martinez may be absent due to an injury sustained against Charlotte). 

Tactically, expect the Union to roll out in their familiar 4-4-2 that prefers quality opportunities as opposed to possession.

Injury report

OUT – Leon Flach (core)

Match-up to watch

Bouanga vs Gazdag. Two of the top scorers in the league go head to head, with the Golden Boot very much on the table for both of them. 

Player to watch

Maxime Crépeau. Infamous to Philadelphia for his performance and subsequent injury in the MLS Cup final last year, LAFC’s first choice keeper returns for only his third game this year. 


Union 3-2 LAFC. Two clubs that almost always combine for high scoring, dramatic affairs. The Union finally break their LAFC curse in front of a rowdy Subaru Park.


  1. If the prediction is correct and the Union win, they’ll have beaten every MLS team that they have played for the first time in team history.

  2. Who here amongst us thinks The elephant is out of his mind lately?

    Yes this in an unreliable narrator posting in the 3rd person.
    Hmm? Go on. I can take it. Who here thinks I’m being too hard on Jim and Co.
    Watch them come out this weekend and look dynamic… stick their finger in LA’s ear and pop the tympanic… waterboard that goddamn club.
    I’ll still be salty but dynamism would be a nice change-up.
    Just saying.

    • Nah. It’s a fair narrative, IMHO.
      I simply appreciate the art of conversation and people/environments that make it possible. This is often that kind of place.
      As for your pondering about tomorrow’s match-up… May it be so.
      Instead of the game, I’ll be celebrating my son and his fiancé making it official, then dancing the night away.

    • Not the best weather for the beautiful game you crave but I will be there to see the outcome. Hoping to see a beat down of LAFC to excise some demons. Need a win tonight for spiritual reasons more than for MLS standings. Jim had better put his best available lineup out there and excise the bad mojo from the final.

  3. They should be up for this one. Let’s hope so.

  4. I was just looking at the match ups if the playoffs started with the current table. Union would face New England in the best of 3, then have to take on the winner of Cincy vs the wildcard (DC v Montreal). If the Supporter’s Shield Curse is still a thing, and Cincy drops out in round one, this is by far the easiest path to the final.

    • The U currently sit 4th in the Conference. BUT… we are 3rd in the league on PPG, 2 points behind Orlando and with a game in hand.

  5. Murphthesurf says:

    Pile on, score first, BEAT LA !!!

  6. Don’t have to worry about watering the field today.

  7. The pessimist in me fears a great match ruined by The Chapman Show.

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