“The Doop by the River Gang makes Union predictions”

It’s almost time for the MLS season to kick off and our Doop by the River gang has come together to make predictions on how the Union will do in 2021, and how the teams in the eastern conference will place. John Zapata (El Parcero Philly), Justin Friedberg, Zach LoBasso, and yours truly (Tim Lovenguth) are here to look at the Union’s matches and give our irrational hopes and best guesses as to how the season will go for Philadelphia! This little piece is appropriately titled “The Doop by the River Gang makes Union predictions” PLAY THE MUSIC!

Doop by the River Union predictions

When the Union schedule came out it is in the nature of all fans to take a look and pencil in those wins, losses, and draws. We love to make predictions at Philly Sports Network and on the Doop by the River podcast, so this is our homage to Union fans everywhere that like to make predictions and look ahead to the new season!

The 2021 season is back to normal in terms of the number of games (each team will play 34 games), but not in terms of a balanced schedule. The eastern and western conference teams will play 32 games against teams in their same conference and two games against the other conference.

El Parcero Philly | @ParceroPhilly

  • Union Record: 17 wins, 11 draws, 6 losses
  • Union’s point total: 62 points
  • Union’s final place in the east: third-place finish
  • Make playoffs? YES

MLS eastern conference standings

  1. Columbus Crew
  2. Orlando City
  3. Philadelphia Union
  4. Atlanta United
  5. New England Revs
  6. Nashville SC
  7. Toronto FC
  8. NYCFC
  9. Inter Miami
  10. Red Bulls
  11. FC Cincinnati
  12. Chicago Fire
  13. CF Montreal
  14. DC United

Union’s playoffs results

  • conference quarterfinals vs 6-seed Nashville SC: WIN
  • conference semifinals vs 4-seed Orlando City: WIN
  • conference finals @ 1-seed Columbus Crew: Loss

Thoughts on Parcero’s picks

El Parcero Philly is riding that Union hype train with his predictions! He has the Union winning 17 games which would be an amazing feat! Securing that third seed would be huge for Philly. But that would mean that Orlando and Columbus would be on pace to either win more than 17 games or rack up more than 62 points which is not a great thought. Parcero shows a clear path to a Union playoff run as his three-seed Union would host and beat Nashville SC, then take on and best Orlando City SC. Unfortunately, that’s where the magical run ends as he has the Union going into the new stadium in Columbus and losing to the Crew. Even with a loss in the conference final, Parcero sees the Union having a historic 2021 MLS season!

Justin Friedberg | @Unionnut26

  • Union Record: 16 wins, 15 draws, 3 losses
  • Union’s point total: 63 points
  • Union’s final place in the east: third-place finish
  • Make playoffs? YES

MLS eastern conference standings

  1. Columbus Crew
  2. Atlanta United
  3. Philadelphia Union
  4. Orlando City
  5. New England Revolution
  6. NYCFC
  7. Toronto FC
  8. Nashville SC
  9. Inter Miami
  10. New York Red Bulls
  11. Chicago Fire
  12. FC Cincinnati
  13. DC United
  14. CF Montreal

Union’s playoffs results

  • conference quarterfinals vs 6-seed NYCFC: WIN
  • conference semifinals vs 4-seed Orlando City: WIN
  • conference finals @ 1-seed Columbus Crew: Loss

Justin wrote a book about his picks here

This season will be one that honestly will be a huge litmus test to see how far the team can go after the two big sales of Aaronson and Mckenzie. So far in CCL, they have looked like a solid team but there will be some obvious regression given the lack of a true attacking signing, combined with Atlanta’s return of Josef and Columbus loading up once again. I had the team finishing third because I still feel that Columbus will secure the first spot. My biggest question mark in the predictions was Atlanta and New England.

Everyone seems to feel that last year’s playoff run for New England is a precursor for more, but I’m not 100% convinced. At the same time, I’m not 100% sure if Atlanta will come back after the return of Josef, but the appointment of Heinze as their manager brings back that South American flair that they missed under De Boer as they already look like a better team than they did at any point last year. The biggest question for me in this prediction is how reliant will Atlanta be on Josef. While he is one of the most prolific goal scorers MLS has ever seen, he is coming back from a significant knee injury and if they rely on him too much, they might sink in the standings.

With the union, if they can continue to play as a solid unit with great service from the wings, this will be a great year and they might even move up a spot in the standings. I am curious this year what the midfield and attack will look like this year for the team. Blake is your starting goalie (as if that was a question). Your defense is most likely going to be Wagner, Elliot, glesnes, and mbaizo with Findlay, Harriel and Real rotating in every so often to give these players some rest. When healthy, your striker pairing will most likely be Kacper and Sergio.

The midfield is where things get really interesting. So far in the CCL matches, Jim has gone with Martinez, Flach, Monteiro and Bedoya. This has also been with a hurt striker core so Fontana has played as a 2nd striker. Flach has looked amazing so far in the limited time he has played, but Monteiro has looked like a true attacking threat. Fontana looks like he will be getting more minutes this year and of course, you have guys like Sullivan, McGlynn, Aaronson(paxten), and of course Ilsinho. Jim will have plenty of options to go from this year and I’m genuinely excited to see what this team can pull out in a certainly open eastern conference.

Zach LoBasso | @ZLOBO98

  • Union Record: 17 wins, 8 draws, 9 losses
  • Union’s point total: 59 points
  • Union’s final place in the east: fourth-place finish
  • Make playoffs? YES

MLS eastern conference standings

  1. Columbus Crew
  2. Atlanta United
  3. New England Revolution
  4. Philadelphia Union
  5. Toronto FC
  6. NYCFC
  7. Orlando City
  8. Inter Miami
  9. Nashville SC
  10. Chicago Fire
  11. DC United
  12. New York Red Bulls
  13. CF Montreal
  14. FC Cincinnati

Union’s playoffs results

  • conference quarterfinals vs 5-seed Toronto FC: WIN
  • conference semifinals @ 2-seed Atlanta United: Loss

Thoughts on Zach’s picks

Zach makes some interesting choices here that are a little more realistic, unlike Justin’s! Union fans would be more than happy with 59 points. Getting 17 wins out of a 34 game season would be a remarkable accomplishment as well! The fourth-place finish would ensure at least one home playoff match in 2021. Zach has the Union winning a playoff game in 2021 which should be expected of Philadelphia at this point. However, he sees Philly losing in their second match of the 2021 playoffs falling to Atlanta United in the conference semifinals. This would be a successful season for sure. The question is where does the priority lie for Philly? Is it to be a constant playoff team or is it win trophies? As of right now all of us see this team prioritizing the former rather than the latter.

Tim Lovenguth | @Tim_Lovenguth

  • Union Record: 16 wins, 9 draws, 9 losses
  • Union’s point total: 57 points
  • Union’s final place in the east: third-place finish
  • Make playoffs? YES

MLS eastern conference standings

  1. Columbus Crew
  2. New England Revolution
  3. Philadelphia Union
  4. Orlando City
  5. NYCFC
  6. Atlanta United
  7. Toronto FC
  8. Nashville SC
  9. New York Red Bulls
  10. Inter Miami
  11. Chicago Fire
  12. DC United
  13. CF Montreal
  14. FC Cincinnati

Union’s playoffs results

  • conference quarterfinals vs 6-seed Atlanta United: WIN
  • conference semifinals @ 2-seed New England Revolution: WIN
  • conference finals @ 1-seed Columbus Crew: Loss

Tim goes in-depth on his picks here

somehow me, the longest-tenured Union-PSN contributor has Philly taking home the least amount of points from the 2021 season. As I mentioned in my Union 2021 season preview, conveniently linked below, it would not be surprising the Union had a bit of a regression from the team they were a year ago.

That being said, I do see the Union as a force to be reckoned with in MLS’s eastern conference. Philly has a system that values hardworking, blue-collar style players. Talk about setting a style for the people of Philadelphia. The Union will outwork you like they are the underdog even when they are favored. They may get hit and knocked down, but they’ll continue to keep moving forward. This should be the case in 2021, as the Union looks to show that 2020 was no fluke!

I see Philly finishing in third place in the eastern conference. This team is too talented and coached too well for a major regression. Getting 57 points means that Philly will have to beat some of the teams they would meet in the playoffs, especially with this conference-heavy schedule! Because of this, I see the Union making a playoff run.

Philly will beat Atlanta United at home in the conference quarterfinals. Then they’ll go on the rod for the conference semis and beat the Revs, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in 2020. This means the Union will play in their first-ever conference final with a shot to go to MLS Cup. The problem is that they’ll have to go to and through the Columbus Crew, and that’s something I don’t think they’ll do. The Union falls short of the 2021 MLS Cup by one game ending their 2021 season where they start it this coming weekend. 

THE 2021 MLS SEASON IS HERE

We did it! We all made it through the MLS offseason. It was a much longer wait than usual. About a month-and-a-half of lockout talk that gave fans stress and jeopardized if there’d even be a 2021 season. Now it’s here! It’s time to kick back and enjoy the gloriousness of a full season of our soccer!

For reference, you can take a look at our full list of picks here: Doop by the River predictions spreadsheet

If you are interested in making your own picks and seeing how they stack up to ours… stay tuned to Philly Sports Network on Saturday morning!!!

Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for more Philadelphia Union and other soccer content!

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Tim Lovenguth | Jeff Green | El Parcero Philly
Zach LoBasso | Justin Friedberg | Liam Jenkins

Doop on Union fans!

Mandatory Credit: El Parcero Philly

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