An in depth look at the Union’s 2018 opponents: Part 2

After what could be a great start to the season, the Union have a tough stretch of games. A foundation of 13 points from the first seven games should create a good foundation. Now the Union will have to do something they have struggled with, getting road points against eastern conference opponents. In an eight game stretch, the Union play seven eastern conference teams; five of those games come on the road. Here’s a look at the Union’s 2018 opponents: Part 2.

Matchday 8:

Toronto FC Logo@ Toronto FC.
Friday, May 4th. 8:00 pm.
2017 record: 20 wins 5 losses 9 ties.
2017 Eastern Conference Standing: 1st.

The Union start the third month of the season on the road visiting the 2017 MLS Cup champion Toronto FC for the first time in 2018. The trip north will be a testament to the Union’s perseverance. Toronto have been a consistent force in the east for the last few years, and they’ve arguably got better this off-season.

Off-season moves:

PLAYERS IN: PLAYERS OUT:
F – Ayo Akinola (12/18/17 – Homegrown)

M – Liam Fraser (1/19/18 – Homegrown)

D – Gregory van der Wiel (2/1/18 – transfer from Cagliari)

D/M – Raheem Edwards (12/12/17 – Expansion Draft)

GK – Mark Pais (12/14/17 – option declined)

D – Brandon Aubrey (12/14/17 – option declined)

D – Oyvind Alseth (12/14/17 – option declined)

M – Sergio Camargo (12/14/17 – option declined)

M – Armando Cooper (12/14/17 – option declined)

M – Benoit Cheyrou (12/14/17 – option declined/retired)

F – Tsubasa Endoh (12/14/17 – option declined)

D – Steven Beitashour (12/14/17 – out of contract)

D – Jason Hernandez (12/14/17 – out of contract)

While the list of departed players is longer than the incoming players, Toronto’s nucleus is still in tact. Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco will be raring to go back to back. The defense, which has been the most improved unit over the last few years, took a hit in the loss of Steve Beitashour a wing-back who was an important piece to Torotno’s five man back line. However, Toronto picked up a perfect replacement last week, signing Gregory van der Wiel. The Dutch right back spurned European clubs to come to Toronto. The ex-PSG 30-year-old brings more experience and quality to a team who broke the record for points in a season last year. Watch out for what this team can do in 2018. So will the Union be able to go north and face down this force?

Prediction:

The Union have not fared well going to Toronto the past few times they’ve played at BMO field. This time may not be any better. Seeing as Philly got blown by Toronto last time they went there, and that the team has practically improved, I don’t see the Union getting points from this one.

Result: Toronto 2 Union 0

Matchday 9:

Columbus Crew Logo@ Columbus Crew.
Wednesday, May 9th. 7:30 pm.
2017 record: 16 wins 12 losses 6 ties.
2017 Eastern Conference Standing: 5th.

The Union face Columbus for the second time in 2018 in the middle of a three games in eight days stretch. This match will be the first of two away matches at Columbus for Philadelphia in 2018. The Crew should be adjusted to the major changes that came to their club this off-season by this point. So Will the Union be able to find a way to get points at Columbus?

Updated Off-season Moves:

PLAYERS IN: PLAYERS OUT:
 

M – Ricardo Clark (2/2/18 – free agent)

 N.A.

The Crew have added free agent midfielder Ricardo Clark. He will likely be a depth/veteran presence type of player. He will have an impact on the field, but won’t likely win a starting spot over anyone. When he’s called upon though he could help Columbus grind out results.

Prediction:

The Crew always play well at home; whether it be blowing teams out or grinding out 1-0 wins. The Union have seen that first hand last season, losing 1-0 in a lackluster game. The Union will have to break that habit if they’ll want to get a W in C-Bus. This side might be disciplined enough to get that this season. The commitment to defending and counter attacking through Accam and Picault should be enough to grind out a win in Columbus.

Result: Columbus 1 Union 2

Matchday 10:

Montreal Impact Logo@ Montreal Impact.
Saturday, May 12th. 3:00 pm.
2017 record: 11 wins 17 losses 6 ties.
2017 Eastern Conference Standing: 9th.

The Union end their tough road stretch at Montreal. Montreal has been a wild-card type of team for the past few years. Some years they make playoff runs, and other years they are totally irrelevant. The Union usually struggle against them when they face them in Canada. But depending on the Impact’s form, the Union may be able to right that ship. How will the Impact follow-up their disappointing 2017? Let’s look at their off-season activities to figure that out!

Off-season moves:

PLAYERS IN: PLAYERS OUT:
GK – James Pantemis (11/13/17 – Homegrown)

D – Thomas Meilleur-Giguere (11/13/17 – Homegrown)

D – Jukka Raitala (12/12/17 – trade from LAFC)

D/M – Raheem Edwards (12/12/17 – trade from LAFC)

GK – Clement Diop (1/9/18 – Waiver Draft)

GK – Jason Beaulieu (1/9/18 – Homegrown)

D – Michael Petrasso (1/18/18 – transfer from Queens Park Rangers)

D – Zakaria Diallo (1/20/18 – free)

M – Saphir Taider (1/22/18 – transfer from Bologna)

M – Jeisson Vargas (1/22/18 – transfer from Universidad Catolica)

 

M – Patrice Bernier (10/23/17 – retired)

D – Shaun Francis (11/16/17 – option declined)

M – Andres Romero (11/16/17 – option declined)

GK – Eric Kronberg (11/16/17 – out of contract)

D – Hassoun Camara (11/16/17 – out of contract)

M – Hernan Bernardello (11/16/17 – out of contract)

D – Ambroise Oyongo (11/16/17 – out of contract)

D – Laurent Ciman (12/12/17 – traded to LAFC)

M – Blerim Dzemaili (12/31/17 – loan expired)

D – Wandrille Lefevre (1/18/18 – waived)

D – Deian Boldor (1/18/18 – waived)

GK – Maxime Crepeau (1/21/18 – loaned to Ottawa)

M – Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla (1/25/18 – transfer to FC Barcelona B)

F – Nick DePuy (1/31/18 – loaned to BK Fremad Amager)

Montreal has had a busy offseason, but it can be summed up by a losses of quality players. One of their strengths last season was attacking through Blerim Dzemaili, and youngster Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla. Both of those players have left the club. Dzemaili’s loan expired and Ballou was courted By Barcelona’s B team. Their attack is now more one-dimensional moving through Ignacio Piatti. The Impact’s defense also took a hit this off-season. They lost their starting left back, Abroise Oyongo (contract expired), center back Hassoun Camara (contract expired) and center back Laurent Ciman (traded to LAFC). While the Impact have brought in a fair share of players, will they be able to produce the same level of play that the players they lost used to?

Prediction:

Montreal’s new team will be gelling at this point of the season. Piatti is still one of the best attacking players in MLS, and he will likely be a leading scorer in the league. Containing him will be key. I see the Union doing a good job of this, but not a great one. As for the Union’s attack, their MLS veterans should be able to exploit this newly thrown together back line.

Result: Impact 1 Union 1

Matchday 11:

Real Salt Lake Logovs Real Salt Lake.
Saturday, May 19th. 7:30 pm.
2017 record: 13 wins 15 losses 6 ties.
2017 Western Conference Standing: 8th.

The Union have fared well against western conference opponents who come to Philly in recent years. This year they welcome Real Salt Lake to Chester at a time that may be crucial for the Union after a loaded week and a half. RSL have been very similar to Montreal over the last few years; they’re streaky. Last season they were not so good, the year before that they made the playoffs. So do they bounce back this season?

Off-season moves:

PLAYERS IN: PLAYERS OUT:
D – Aaron Herrera (12/15/17 – Homegrown)

D – Taylor Peay (12/15/17 – USL)

F – Brooks Lennon (12/20/17 – transfer from Liverpool)

F – Alfredo Ortuño (1/3/18 – free)

F – Corey Baird (1/5/18 – Homegrown)

D – Adam Henley (1/9/18 – free)

D – Shawn Barry (1/17/18 – free)

M – Pablo Ruiz (2/2/18 – transfer from San Luis)

GK – Matt VanOekel (11/27/17 – option declined)

D – Chris Schuler (11/27/17 – option declined)

D – Reagan Dunk (11/27/17 – option declined)

D – Justin Schmidt (11/27/17 – option declined)

M – Omar Holness (11/27/17 – option declined)

F – Chad Barrett (11/27/17 – option declined)

F – Ricardo Velazco (11/27/17 – option declined)

D – Chris Wingert (11/27/17 – out of contract)

F – Brooks Lennon (11/27/17 – loan expired)

The off-season so far has been a fairly regular one for RSL, no new big names have been added, and none of their stars left the club. There were rumors that Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando might leave, but they both signed new contracts and are coming back for 2018. USMNT player Brooks Lennon is also coming back to RSL. His loan spell from Liverpool ran out this off-season, but RSL worked out a transfer for Lennon to be a permanent Salt Lake player. AS for how the squad will do in 2018 is a mystery. Many of the core pieces have returned, and the group will be hungry to right their wrongs from last season.

Prediction:

The Union will be in a position to show their home dominance against a team that has shown to start slow on the road in the past. If the Union can dominate the possession, and use their strength of collective defense and counter attacks, then they should be able to find a way to pick up crucial points.

Result: Union 2 Salt Lake 0  

Matchday 12:

@ New York Red Bulls.
Saturday, May 26th. 7:00 pm.
2017 record: 14 wins 12 losses 8 ties.
2017 Eastern Conference Standing: 6th.

The Union play their first game against their “rivals” New York Red Bulls in New Jersey this year. The Red Bulls have been one of those teams who have shown the tendencies to be a great team, but have fallen short in key moments. Some of those lapses of brilliance have been against the Union. For some reason, Philadelphia is able to get under the Red Bulls skin. Will this be the case in 2018?

Off-season moves:

PLAYERS IN: PLAYERS OUT:
F – Stefano Bonomo (12/18/17 – USL)

M – Florian Valot (12/20/17 – USL)

F – Carlos Rivas (1/3/18 – trade from Orlando)

D – Tommy Redding (1/3/18 – trade from Orlando)

D – Kevin Politz (1/3/18 – Homegrown)

M – Ben Mines (1/8/18 – Homegrown)

F – Amando Moreno (1/10/18 – free)

M – Marc Rzatkowski (1/30/18 – loan from Red Bull Salzburg)

M – Cristian Casseres Jr. (2/2/18 – transfer from Deportivo La Guaira)

D – Sal Zizzo (11/27/17 – option declined)

D – Gideon Baah (11/27/17 – option declined)

M – Mike Grella (11/27/17 – option declined)

M – Dilly Duka (11/27/17 – option declined)

M – Dan Metzger (11/27/17 – option declined)

M – Arun Basuljevic (11/27/17 – option declined)

M – Zeiko Lewis (11/27/17 – option declined)

F – Brandon Allen (11/27/17 – option declined)

F – Gonzalo Veron (11/27/17 – option declined)

M – Sacha Kljestan (1/3/18 – traded to Orlando)

M – Muhamed Keita (2/3/18 – waived)

The team that claims New York is Red is going through an interesting transition. This is the second off-season that they have traded their captain. This organization has been doing some weird things with it’s most valuable players. The Red Bulls let go of players who have given their all for the club; Mike Grella and Sacha Kljestan. They did bring in some new faces to replace them, notably Carlos Rivas, but will they show the same passion? It has been interesting watch Red Bulls continue to undervalue their captains, and faithful servants. Will this have any effect on how they play the Union?

Prediction:

The Union will be looking to get a foothold in a competitive place in the east. The Red bulls will use their normal high pressing style to keep the Union pinned in their own half. With the addition of David Accam the Union could burn this side, but their back line would have to play a great game.

Result: Red bulls 1 Union 1

Matchday 13:

Chicago Fire Logovs Chicago Fire.
Wednesday, May 30th. 7:30pm.
2017 record: 16 wins 11 losses 7 ties.
2017 Eastern Conference Standing: 3rd.

The first David Accam revenge match is played in Chester this season. The Fire are a team loaded with attacking power even without Accam. However the Fire have not always shown well at Talen Energy Stadium. With all the changes they’ve made will they be able to come to Chester and get three points?

Off-season moves:

PLAYERS IN: PLAYERS OUT:
D – Grant Lillard (1/10/18 – Homegrown)

D – Rafael Ramos (1/18/18 – trade from Orlando)

F – Jon Bakero (1/19/18 – SuperDraft)

M – Mo Adams (1/19/18 – SuperDraft)

M – Aleksandar Katai (2/6/18 – loan from Alaves)

F – Joey Calistri (11/28/17 – option declined)

D – Matej Dekovic (11/28/17 – option declined)

D – Patrick Doody (11/28/17 – option declined)

M – Collin Fernandez (11/28/17 – option declined)

M – John Goossens (11/28/17 – option declined)

D – Michael Harrington (11/28/17 – option declined)

M – Juninho (11/28/17 – loan expired)

D – Joao Meira (11/28/17 – out of contract)

M – Arturo Alvarez (12/10/17 – trade to Houston)

F – David Arshakyan (12/18/17 – mutual termination)

GK – Jorge Bava (1/18/18 – mutual termination)

GK – Matt Lampson (1/19/18 – traded to Minnesota)

M – David Accam (1/19/18 – traded to Philadelphia)

Chicago made an interesting move dealing Accam to the Union, but got paid in the process. Other than that move they have kept their stars in place for 2018. Schweinsteiger, McCarty, and Nikolic are all back. These players are looking to compete with the likes of Toronto in the east. Adding some smart draft picks and letting go of some players who weren’t going to make an impact could help them get over the hump to compete for the top of the east. Even though they have had a successful off-season, they still have to face their old friend every time they play the Union.

Prediction:

The Union will have to defend well and keep the ball away from Nikolic to win this match. You know David Accam will be even more up for sticking it to his former club. If the Union can dominate the field, they could beat a very good Chicago side. However, I think they let Nikolic get in on goal once, and that might be enough for Chicago.

Result: Union 1 Fire 1

Matchday 14:

Atlanta United Logo@ Atlanta United.
Saturday, June 2nd. 7:00 pm.
2017 record: 15 wins 9 losses 10 ties.
2017 Eastern Conference Standing: 4th.

In 2017 the Union played one good game against Atlanta, and got blown out by them as well. Atlanta have shown what the new MLS looks like spending heavily for young talented players, and getting the best out of veteran leaders. They are going to be a dangerous team for years to come; the Union should be scared of this team with what they did this off-season.

Off-season moves:

PLAYERS IN: PLAYERS OUT:
D – George Bello (6/17/17 – Homegrown)

F – Lagos Kunga (6/17/17 – Homegrown)

F – Patrick Okonkwo (6/17/17 – Homegrown)

GK – Mitch Hildebrandt (12/1/17 – free)

D – Franco Escobar (12/8/17 – transfer from Newell’s Old Boys)

D – Jose Hernandez (12/13/17 – transfer from Caracas FC)

M – Darlington Nagbe (12/13/17 – trade from Portland)

D – Gbenga Arokoyo (12/13/17 – trade from Portland)

F – Jon Gallagher (1/19/18 – SuperDraft)

F – Gordon Wild (1/19/18 – SuperDraft)

M – Ezequiel Barco (1/19/18 – transfer from Independiente)

D – Sal Zizzo (1/30/18 – free agent)

GK – Alex Tambakis (11/20/17 – option declined)

D – Mark Bloom (11/20/17 – option declined)

D – Zach Loyd (11/20/17 – option declined)

D – Tyrone Mears (11/20/17 – option declined)

M – Harrison Heath (11/20/17 – option declined)

F – Kenwyne Jones (11/20/17 – option declined)

F – Jeffrey Otoo (11/20/17 – option declined)

GK – Kyle Reynish (11/20/17 – out of contract)

D – Bobby Boswell (11/20/17 – out of contract)

M – Yamil Asad (12/31/17 – loan expired)

D – Anton Walkes (12/31/17 – loan expired)

F – Jacob Peterson (1/29/18 – waived)

M – Carlos Carmona (1/30/18 – transferred to Colo-Colo)

Atlanta built their 2017 squad with a lot of money. They did the same for their 2018 squad. They first went out and got USMNT player Darlington Nagbe from Portland, dropping a good chunk of change for him. Then they dropped even more money on draft day, overshadowing the Union’s trade for Accam, when they spent the most money on a transfer fee in  MLS history for Ezequiel Barco. This team is riddled with young attacking talent. With their world-class coach, Tata Martino, their defense will also be organized. Everyone in MLS who doubted them in 2017 should be on the lookout, there’s a new powerhouse in MLS and it’s Atlanta United

Prediction:

The Union are going to Atlanta for the first meetup of these two sides. Atlanta has filled their football stadium every game creating a great atmosphere. Teams go in there and have little success. The Union had no success their last season, and this season is shaping up to be quite similar.

Result: Atlanta 3 Union 1

Matchday 15:

Toronto FC Logovs Toronto FC.
Friday, June 8th. 8:00 pm.
2017 record: 20 wins 5 losses 9 ties.
2017 Eastern Conference Standing: 1st.

Philadelphia play their last match against Toronto in early June. Which could be a blessing as they outclassed the Union at times. Luckily this match will be at home for the Union. Toronto should have already beaten the Union at home, and will look to do the same on the road.

Updated Off-season Moves:

PLAYERS IN: PLAYERS OUT:
 

N.A.

 

N.A.

There have been no updated moves for Toronto. That’s probably because they are the most complete team in MLS.

Prediction:

The Union played very well against Toronto last year at Talen Energy Stadium. That was a game in early March that the Union had control of, but they let it slip away to the quality Toronto players. This season, Toronto will be in form. The Union will need a perfect game to get points from this one. I don’t see them being perfect.

Result: Union 1 Toronto 2

WHERE WILL THE UNION STAND?

At the World Cup break, the Union will have played almost half their season at fifteen games. In this tough eight match stretch they will welcome a break. I see the Union going 2-3-3. That will put them at 6-5-4. This could be enough to keep them in a competitive spot in the east, but if every other team plays at their highest level the Union may have fallen far after this stretch of games.

After 15 matches: Union 6-5-4 with 22 points.

Come back for part three next week! Missed part 1? No worries, Click here.

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: © Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Union writer. A passion for the beautiful game drives me. Twitter: @TGing21

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