Philadelphia Union flounder in last game of regular season; will face NYCFC again in playoff match

Philadelphia Union blew a huge opportunity to secure a home playoff match in the knockout round of the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs. Sloppy play and bickering with one-another lead to a 3-1 defeat. The Union fall to the sixth seed in Eastern Conference playoffs as a result.

The Union are falling a part at the worst possible time in the season! Philadelphia played an uninspiring game with the three seed, and a home playoff game on the line. They lost 3-1 to NYCFC and will have to play at Yankee stadium again in the playoffs tomorrow as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Before we preview that match let’s take a look back at the problems Philadelphia had in their season finale.

Slow start and sloppy play:

Early on in the match Philadelphia looked like they were just going to sit back and have the game come to them. The problem was, that NYCFC started the game looking to win it. Attacks came flying in from New York City and in the eighth minute they had their first goal. David Villa sent a corner into the Union’s box, and Maxime Chanot met the ball with his head. The ball made its way to Blake who mishandled the ball. NYCFC were up and they were just getting started.

Just two minutes later, NYCFC found their second goal. NYCFC had a break and had the ball wide with one runner in the box. The ball was miss-hit towards New York’s one attacker and made its way across Auston Trusty. Trusty tried to clear the ball, but ended up redirecting the ball past Andre Blake. Trusty’s mishap gave NYCFC a two goal lead just 10 minutes in.

This woke Philadelphia up, as Borek Dockal played Corey Burke in behind NYCFC’s defense. The Jamaican pulled one goal back for the Union. At 2-1 things seemed to be turning Philadelphia’s way; however, things quickly soured for Philly

Teammates arguing:

After 20 minutes of fighting to find an equalizer the Union switched off again while defending. They gave up chance after chance for New York until David Villa punished them, giving the home side a two goal lead before half time. This made Union players mad, and the emotions got the best of two of their players.

In the 40th minute the Union were pressing to try to create chances. This led to chances that were going unpunished. Which caused tempers to flare between Cory Burke and Borek Dockal. They were seen arguing with each other. Borek looked very angry with Cory. Burke’s frustration came out when he picked up a late first half yellow card for a challenge. This emotion comes out every once in a while, but at this moment it doomed the Union’s chances to get back in the game.

The scoreline held 3-1 at the half, and due to Burke’s temper, he was subbed off. He was seen visibly upset on the bench as the second half kicked off. The Union were dismantling themselves, and playing to find a way to fit the field not their opponent.

Tactics to fit the field not the opponent:

The Union brought on Ilsinho for Burke. The Brazilian gave Philadelphia a much-needed spark, but the Union could not finish the chances they created. Much has been the case all season, however this change and the other changes made did not break down NYCFC, but it did help their shape on New York’s smaller field.

Fabinho was the second sub for Keegan Rosenberry, which was awkward. Fabinho gave no real quality as a defender, but was playing almost as a hybrid wing-back. This helped the Union get the ball down the wing, but again there was no attacking quality in the center of the pitch. Sapong moved to striker when Burke went out, but offered little in that role.

Jay Simpson came on for him toward the end of them match. This led to better spacing and smarter runs down the center of the pitch, but again it didn’t do enough to break down NYCFC to get back into the match.

The game ended 3-1 locking New York in as the three seed. Philadelphia could still have moved into the four spot or five-spot. However a DC draw with Chicago, and a Columbus win over Minnesota locked Philadelphia into the six seed.

Union hold the six seed:

With the six seed, the Union knew they’d be heading back to Yankee Stadium to play NYCFC in the knockout round of the playoffs. Philadelphia will need to regroup and find a way to break down NYCFC on their home field to advance in the playoffs.

The Eastern conference playoff picture is set. New York Red Bulls secured the top overall seed, and won the supporters shield over Atlanta United. Atlanta still ahs a bye, but has the two seed in the playoffs. DC United completed their rise t the playoffs getting the four seed as the dust settled. They’ll host Columbus Crew SC who secured the five seed with their season finale win. The Union’s fall to sixth place means the toughest route to MLS Cup. They will take on NYCFC on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM ET!

A win over New York City means the Union would play a home-and-away two-legged series with New York Red Bulls. For more of a preview of the Union’s match with NYCFC and a look at their unlikely, but not impossible route to an MLS Cup come back to Philly Sports Network tomorrow!

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Peace out Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports