Three wins out of the last four and three goals in last game see the Philadelphia Union host New York City FC on Saturday night in their third and final clash of the MLS season..somebody mention the number 3?
Philadelphia’s recent surge in good form has lifted them to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, seeing them occupy the final playoff spot after 15 games. That in itself, when you look back at the season so far is surprising. The year started terribly, with Jim Curtin’s side winning a lone one of their opening 11 fixtures. But with the injury plague having passed and some new stars emerging, the team have transformed into the Union we know they can be. Philadelphia as a city has seen many sporting miracles, who’s to say this season won’t be the latest in a long line?
The team they’re facing however, new rivals New York City are in an opposite position, suffering a tragic run of form that has seen them go winless in eleven games, taking two points from their last three.
A small plus side for the new franchise was DP David Villa scoring his first goal since early April last game. But it wasn’t enough to lift them to a victory or lift them from the bottom of the table.
The team will be relying on the Spaniard to inspire them once again as they desperately hunt down a victory.. a job that may be hard to accomplish against a Philadelphia Side they are yet to beat and who happen to be in their best form of the season.
So, in what should be an easy game, what do the Union need to do to make sure they don’t throw away what could be a vital win?
Controlling the flanks is definitely one key factor.Both Fabinho and Williams been incredible these past few weeks, not just in their positions but in what they contribute to the offensive game. An area that was non existent before a few weeks back has now become prominent. Fabinho’s elusiveness and pin-point crossing has been so important, and given the Union a real sense of danger on the wings. With Le Toux’s recent hot right foot partnered into the mix, with two goals in two games with some pacey runs o the other flank, if an already shakey NYC defense can’t control the wings..it could be game over before the ball has even moved from centre!
Talking of centre, the main men in the midfield have been brilliant as of late too, perhaps the unsung heroes of the Union. Don’t believe us? The DOOPers are 4-3-3 with Nogueira starting..and 0-5-0 in the game’s he’s missed. Now himself and Maidana are fully healthy, the midfield has become relentless. It’s consistent and playing a much shorter passing game. Before the season, many predicted that the Union could be extremely dangerous when it comes to possession..it may have taken fifteen games, but it’s a midfield to be feared.
Our predictions so far have been pretty consistent give or take a few goals, there’s no reason why this should change now. If you’re a betting man, perhaps a wager on the Union to win both halves or to score in both halves. The Sons of Ben will feel slightly lucky that rookie wonderkid Khiry Shelton is out injured but that is evened out with the possible loss of Aristegueta. A revived CJ Sapong should be able to fill the gap no problem and still be just as much of a threat however. The main pressure falls on Philadelphia’s defense, that has to keep world-class striker David Villa at bay for 90 minutes. But they’ve done it before, they can do it again no problem.
Score- Philadelphia Union 3-1 New York City FC