The Philadelphia Union played a hard-fought draw in Columbus this past weekend. After a disallowed goal, the Union had to settle for a 0-0 scoreline. This weekend they will look to put the ball in the back of the net, and also cement their place in the MLS Postseason. Our Philly Sports Network Union Crew Preview if Philly can get a win vs Minnesota and secure a playoff berth.
Barring a miracle, Minnesota United FC will not be playing in the postseason. They would need to win their final four matches, including those against the likes of the Union, Galaxy and Crew SC. Also, Seattle and Real Salt Lake would have to go win-less in their combined seven remaining matches. So that’s not happening. As for the Union, they are coming off a solid defensive effort against a tough Crew SC team in Columbus. I believe Cory Burke’s goal should have stood, but referee, Drew Fischer felt it warranted a VAR review, hence negating the only goal of the match. Although the Union have a more difficult schedule the rest of the way, they can still overtake Columbus with a win this weekend, coupled with a Montreal Impact win over the Crew.
The Loons will be coming to Chester to play the role of spoiler. Although they sport the worst road record in Major League Soccer (1-12-2), they present a dangerous challenge. There’s really no pressure on them in this situation so expect them to go for broke from the opening whistle. Their bruising back line is made up of two 6’2” imposing center backs – New Zealand international Michael Boxall (200lbs), and Minnesota native, Brent Kallman (190lbs). They enjoy throwing their bodies around but are prone to letting the offense get behind them. That could explain the Loons having the fourth worst goal differential in the league (-13).
The Union defense will have to focus on two of Minnesota’s midfielders. Miguel Ibarra, who has three caps with the USMNT, has contributed 7 goals and 7 assists, but has struggled as of late, notching only 1 goal and 1 assist in his previous seven starts. The other is diminutive Colombian International, Darwin Quintero. He is one of the most dynamic players in MLS and must be contained in the midfield. He leads Minnesota with 10 goals and 13 assists.
Coach Jim Curtin announced on Wednesday that everyone is healthy and available for selection against Minnesota. I can’t see him making any drastic changes to the starting lineup. Jack Elliot is back from suspension, but Mark McKenzie should continue in his place next to Auston Trusty at center back. Ilsinho is also back, but he will be in his familiar and most-productive roll, as the first offensive sub if the Union find themselves trailing or tied in the 2nd half.
With the international break approaching and the New York Red Bulls waiting for them in two weeks, this is a must-win for the boys in blue. The Red Bulls will still be battling Atlanta United FC for the Support’s Shield when they travel down 95 to Chester in two weeks. It will be a tall task for the Union to come out of that one with three points, which makes this Saturday’s match even more crucial. They haven’t scored more than two goals in any match since their 3-2 victory at New England on August 11th. Look for them to bust out this week and for Fafa Picault and Cory Burke to add to their team leading eight goals. It’s time for that 4th place push!
Prediction: Union: 4 – Minnesota United FC: 2
Union Man of the Match: Cory Burke
The Union head into the final month of the season with something to prove. Luckily for them, they have a chance to show their quality at home vs Minnesota United. The stakes are high for both sides. Minnesota United still aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention but would need, as Jeff stated earlier, a miracle. The Union, on the other hand have a huge opportunity to secure a playoff spot with a win over Minnesota.
Your Philadelphia Union can clinch an MLS playoff spot with a win vs Minnesota, or a tie with Minnesota as long as Montreal and Columbus tie. should the Union lose, they can still secure a playoff spot if Montreal lose to Columbus. The Union are almost guaranteed a playoff spot with these odds. However Philadelphia is not just satisfied with getting back to the playoffs.
Coach Jim Curtin, and several players have stated that the team’s goal is to secure a home playoff game. To do this they will have to overtake Columbus. Philly is only a point behind Columbus, so a win this week, and Crew SC dropping points to Montreal would be enough for the Union to jump Columbus with two weeks to play. While this is a great goal, the Union cannot overlook the opponent in front of them.
Minnesota United are clawing to stay alive in the Western Conference. They have four matches left, and are 10 points out of sixth place. They will need to win at least three of their last four to not be eliminated. The Loon’s will be up for the match vs the Union. Minnesota have looked very good from time to time this season. The Union will have to make sure that Minnesota is not allowed to counter the same way teams like Houston and Montreal successfully did.
Philadelphia’s key to this game, as has been for many games this season, is their midfield three of Dockal, Bedoya and Medunjanin. If they can dictate the play as the Union are on the ball, then Minnesota’s lethal counter attack won’t factor on the game. I see a dominating performance from Borek Dockal on deck for the Union. He’ll take over the match, and help the Union secure a playoff spot!
Prediction: Union: 3 – Minnesota United FC: 1
Union Man of the Match: Borek Dockal
Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union, Steel FC, and other soccer content!
Follow our writers on Twitter:
Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.