The Philadelphia Union look to continue unbeaten streak against strong, rested Portland Timbers


The Union have not lost in over a month; six matches, four wins and two draws. This Philadelphia side took 14 points from a possible 18. There are four matches left before the Gold Cup break and the Union have three of those matches at home, starting with a strong and rested Portland Timbers side.

Portland is coming to Philadelphia this weekend in a match that is hugely anticipated. Both sides play some high-tempo, fun-to-watch soccer. Portland is coming to Chester to end their season starting road-trip; this will be the Timber’s 12th game of the season. Portland have not been on top of their game to start the 2019 season, but they are likely to trend up now that they have their superstar attacker.

Portland got their man Brian Fernandez from Liga MX side Necaxa for a club-record fee of over $10 million. The forward has a knack for scoring goals from the wing. Fernandez scored in his first appearance for the Timbers coming off the bench to secure a tie in Houston. That game was 10 days ago; with over a week of rest Portland will be stronger and ready to get another away result.

The Timbers have played a variation of a 4-4-2, that looks like a 4-2-3-1 at times. Jeremy Ebobisse plays as a lone striker with playmaker Diego Valeri playing next to him, at times Valeri will drop deeper into that number 10 role. Portland will have Sebastián Blanco and now Brian Fernandez running the wings, and Diego Chara will be in his preferred stopper role in the midfield. This strong front who have had 10 days to prepare to come to play the Union could give them an upper-hand.

Philadelphia Union will need to do what they have done over the past two weeks to keep their unbeaten streak alive; keep the ball away from the star playmakers. Up in Toronto, the Union kept Pozuelo quiet apart from his free kick goal. Last week vs Seattle the Union stifled Nico Lodiero. This time around, they will need to stop Valeri and newcomer Fernandez who is likely to start his first match for Portland.

The Union can do this, their midfield and defense is in form, and has been firing on all cylinders. Philly has conceded only three goals this past month. All the pressure will be with the Union’s attack as they try to break down Portland’s pieced together defense. Here’s how I see the Union lining up to take on Portland:

I see the Union’s defense holding Portland to just one lone goal, coming from the Timber’s new man Fernandez. As for the Union’s attack, they will be more clinical with their chances this. Fafa will use his speed to get in behind the defense to draw them out and will find runners in the box. I the Union scoring three with the goals coming from Przybylko, and substitutes Ilsinho and Santos.

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Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports