The Union lost for the second time in Chicago this season. Philly failed to score in Illinois in 2016. Their minus four goal differential is something that hurts deeply. Especially when you see that Chicago is one of the worst teams in MLS. Chicago may be one of the worst teams in MLS, but they have an outstanding home record; they are now unbeaten in the last 12 home games.The Fire pride themselves on good team defense, and fast attackers that can spring counter attacks. That is how they scored all three of their goals last week. Chicago gave Philadelphia a burn Saturday night, which creates a must win feel for this weeks game. Here’s what the impact of a must win game looks like for the Union.
Saturday’s game is the last home game of September for the Boys in Blue. The rest of the month, the Union are on the road, and they go to hostile places. Portland, Toronto, and New York Red Bulls are their next three opponents. Favorable results won’t come easy against these teams, which makes this weeks game much more important.
The Union face Montreal Impact in a game that has major Eastern Conference implications. With a win, The Union get right back in the thick of things with the leaders of the Eastern Conference. The Union took a step back last week with their poor performance against Chicago; they’ll need to fix their team defense if they want to get the W against the Impact.
Last weekend Philly lost their momentum, and looked discombobulated. That was due to the fact that they were without a number eight. Alejandro Bedoya, the Union’s current number eight, was with the USA Mens National Team last weekend. This led to the Union putting Barnetta back into the Eight, and starting Alberg at the 10. Barnetta is good on the ball, but his attacking tendencies hurt the Union last week. He was caught too far forward at times, which allowed Chicago to use effectively counter, and find goals. This also hurt Philly’s team defense; when Barnetta was out of position the rest of the team scrambled to defend. This week this problem should be fixed!
Bedoya is back, and while he is in the news for off the field reasons, he will be a major factor for the Union on the field this weekend! Since joining Philadelphia, Bedoya has helped the Union’s shape tremendously. His tenacious work off the ball is something that helps the Union thrive. Alejandro is known for his work-rate; he does the dirty work others don’t want to do. Without him, the Union lost that work, and lost the game against Chicago. Last time the Union faced Montreal, they didn’t have a number eight to do the dirty work. How did that turn out for Philadelphia?
The Last meeting between the Union and Impact was probably one of the worst games of the season for Philly. A 5-1 loss showed the Union that they needed someone to do the dirty work and solidify their defensive shape. In the game Montreal did an amazing job at destroying the Union’s shape. In the game Tranquillo Barnetta played the eight. Montreal took advantage of this. When the Union advanced, Barnetta’s attacking tendencies persuaded him to move up the field. Montreal countered Barnetta’s movement by spreading the field. Their wide attack made defenders drift wide; Piatti and Drogba then had space to score easily. Montreal is looking for the same kind of result this time around.
Montreal is three points behind the Union in the standings. Their last five games have produced bad losses to Red Bulls, Chicago and Orlando, a draw against DC, and a win against rivals Toronto. Their form has been questionable. They played Orlando earlier this week at home and lost by three to a desperate Orlando side. During the match, starting goalkeeper Evan Bush, received a red card for taking out the legs of Orlando’s Carlos Rivas who was on a break away. Bush is now unavailable for this coming match against the Union because of the red card. The Union will need to take advantage of this if they want to get back to winning ways.
With Bush gone for the match, the Union’s potent attack will need to test Montreal’s backup keeper, Eric Kronberg. Kronberg was scored on twice after coming on for Montreal. Pontius, Barnetta, Ilshino, and Sapong should pepper the goal with shots. With Bedoya back holding down the midfield’s shape, and Philadelphia’s attackers taking shots on a back-up goalkeeper, The Union should be able to find a way to win the match.
Check out tonight’s must win match on The Comcast Network (TCN) at 7 PM. With a win, The Union will be right back in the fight for the top of the Eastern Conference! Come back to Philly Sports Network after the game for a recap, and a look forward to the oncoming storm that is three straight away matches. Until then, peace out!
Mandatory Photo Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports