EPL vs PPL- AFC Bournemouth invade PPL Park to face Union

Today’s the day that the current winners of the SkyBet Championship AFC Bournemouth kick off their pre-season with a game against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. Whilst  there is no coverage of the game, this is still an important fixture for the Union as they have the chance to face a team who are now competing in the world’s most renowned league.

On paper, the teams aren’t too different. AFC Bournemouth have risen from the ashes under the reign of Eddie Howe and become one of the most likeable sides in the country. From the depths of lower league football to fighting at the top flight on a budget that you would not associate with a Premier League side. With most of the starting eleven playing for the team since the start of Howe’s reign and coming through the youth academy, it’s a sign that money can’t buy everything. The heart, character and passion are still needed to succeed. It also proves you don’t need to spend £50m on a midfielder to succeed..perhaps Manchester City should take a leaf out of their book.

The Union are very similar in that regard. A small club, in relation to the new expansion teams or the big dogs in the league but still give it everything they have. After a slow start, the Union are just outside the playoffs following US Open Cup success and a win over both Seattle and Toronto. Two teams with two of the most passionate fan bases in the game are about to collide at PPL Park, with many making the journey across the pond.

For the Union, it’s a case of taking as much of the experience into the following fixtures as they can, as Zach Pfeffer eluded to in our interview recently. Edu has factored into the squad more than any other player this year and will surely start in tonight’s affair. A rest for Le Toux may be on the cards to ensure he’s back to 100% for the Toronto game, whilst rookie Eric Ayuk will be keen to expand his knowledge of the game. Andrew Wenger said that this was the most complete the team has played in their most recent win against Portland and will surely be looking to retain his match fitness with a start tonight. McCarthy or Sylvestre will probably get the start in goal with Richie Marquez, Fabinho, Edu and Williams making up the back four whilst Brian Carrol sits in a DM role.

So, what can the Union expect? The thing that always surprises me when watching AFC Bournemouth is their wing play. It’s something the Union have started to implement well but has been perfected by the cherries. The Union may learn a thing or too tonight as the likes of Matt Ritchie and Callum Wilson will be sure to give wing backs a real run for their money.

The danger doesn’t end there however, their defence is rock solid. Having not lost a game since February 25th, AFC Bournemouth’s Callum Francis had a huge season whilst new signing and Premier League Veteran Sylvain Distin somewhat resembles the role of Maurice Edu and will be a tough challenge for the likes of Maidana and Sapong to conquer. Once they get to the net, they will have to face either Arthur Boruc who signed with the club after an extended loan spell or experienced shot stopper Adam Federici. Both extremely talented indeed.

Fellow new acquisitions Christian Atsu, Tyrone Mings and Joshua King should all be expected to feature as Howe will look to settle the new boys in as early as he can. Coach Curtin has already stated that he will showing a mixed lineup to try and get as many players field time as possible.

If you can get to PPL Park tonight, you will be in for a real treat. If you’re looking to follow the Premier League this season and looking for a team to follow, AFCB will be the squad to keep your eyes on.