The Philadelphia Union is coming off of a poor stretch of games down in Florida. A loss in Orlando and a draw at Miami have this team reeling a bit. The Union now has the chance to get back on the right foot. The Union comes home to play Chicago Fire in what will be the final match of the first half of the season for Philadelphia.
Union comes home
The Union had a rough July. They played one match at home and won that one; they also played four on the road and drew twice and lost twice. The summer woes are definitely here, but they cannot stay coming into August if this team wants their 2021 season to be a success. Philly plays seven matches in August four of which will be at home, starting with this coming match against Chicago Fire FC, who have been struggling on the road for a long time.
Chicago’s poor road form
Chicago has not won on the road since decision day of 2019. Yes, you read that right, Chicago has not won a match in almost a year-and-a-half. They have not looked that good overall in 2021 either. The Fire has just three wins on the season. All three have been at home. Their road form is atrocious as they have lost all five of their away matches in 2021. Can they possibly get their first win away from home in a year and a half at Philly?
This has all of the makings of a trap game for the Union. Chicago is a team that has three wins on the season and no wins on the road since the end of 2019, but they have every opportunity to beat a Union team that lacks confidence. Chicago would have to play a perfect game for this to happen in Chester. Their only danger man is Robert Beric who only has two goals on the season, so if the Union can shut him down, they should be able to dominate a match they need to win badly.
Philly need this one badly
As mentioned before, the Union had a rough July that cannot carry over into August if they want to be a side that stays competitive in MLS. This match against Chicago is one that can be the start of righting the ship. The Union’s Jamaican players are all back in training after their good run in the Gold Cup. The Union has a full roster again with their players available to them heading into a crucial stretch of play that could really define their entire 2021 season.
Philly can get right back on the horse by beating Chicago at home. It shouldn’t be too hard to do either. This Union roster has the better players all over the pitch, and they have their security blanket back. Andre Blake is back with the Union after the Gold Cup cannot be understated. His presence behind the backline will give a defense that is struggling as of late some peace of mind. Whether or not the roster is a bit rotated, this Union side is better and should win against Chicago at home. They need the win badly as the Union is about to head to the back half of their 2021 season.
Union in the top four at halfway point?
The Union currently sits in fourth place in the east. They have shown that they can be a contender for the top of the east, but this upcoming run of games will really show that. This match against Chicago is the Union’s halfway point. They’ll have played 17 matches in the 34 match season. Can the Union get back to their winning ways and stay in the top four at their halfway point?
Philly is in fourth place, but Columbus, NYCFC, Montreal, and DC United are all within four points and all have at least one game in hand. If the Union falls to Chicago then they will allow the door to be open to any of the teams below them to move ahead of them. However, a win would allow Philly to stay in the top four at their halfway mark, with the possibility to move to third or even second place in the east. Everyone is right around one another in the standings so winning winnable games is a must.
The Union could rotate their roster or change formations after a rough two games in Florida, or not. Either way, they should have enough talent and hunger on the field to win this game at home. In terms of a lineup, here’s what I think the Union will role out:
Blake; Wagner, Findlay, Elliot, Mbaizo; Martinez, Flach, Monteiro, Gazdag; Santos, Przybylko.
This lineup gives some rest to Jakob Glesnes and Alejandro Bedoya who looked like they needed some time off in the past few matches. It also keeps the majority of the team together that will be hungry and talented enough to dominate Chicago. Also, the rightful Union front three of Gazdag under Santos and Przybylko will be unleashed against a poor Chicago backline.
I see the Union winning this match 2-0. It will be nervy at times, but Philly will find a goal in both halves. This will give the Union a much-needed W to start off the month of August, and turn the page to the second half of the season.
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Mandatory Credit: PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH