The past two weeks have been a rough stretch of games for the Philadelphia Union. The Union has just two points from three matches, dropping points to teams at the bottom of the table, Miami and Chicago. It’s been very frustrating for the fans and the team alike. Now Philly turns the page and looks for a much-needed win vs a Toronto side that isn’t as bad as their record suggests.
Can Union get a much-needed win over an underachieving Toronto?
The play and coaching have not been nearly good enough for this team coming off of the 2020 Supporters Shield. Their poor month of July has plummeted them to fifth place in the east, and Philly is tied for most games played so far.
The Union is now past the halfway point of their 2021 season. Their August is filled with important matches. Jim Curtin said as much in his midweek press conference. He mentioned that the team will have its “best available XI” playing against Toronto FC. Can this squad that has had little rotation and rest be able to beat a talented Toronto side at home ahead of some even bigger matches?
Toronto isn’t as bad as their record shows
Toronto FC is currently 10th in the standings in the eastern conference. They had a rough start to their season winning just once in their first 12 MLS matches. However, in their last four, they have two wins and two draws getting eight points out of 12. This Toronto team isn’t as bad as their record shows, they’re actually quite good.
TFC has seen this turnaround thanks to firing former head coach Chris Armas and being able to actually play at their home stadium in Toronto. Interim head coach Javier Perez has this team buzzing. Toronto is back to enjoying their soccer. They have their star striker back with the side in Jozy Altidore. Their big signing of the offseason, Yeferson Soteldo is getting consistent minutes now and is a game-changer. This Toronto side looks poised to make a late summer-early fall rise up the eastern conference table.
They now come to Chester to face a Union team that is reeling at the moment. Toronto seems to prefer to play in a 4-2-3-1 to stretch the field. This could cause some major problems for the Union if they continue to play in their 4-4-2 diamond formation. Teams have wreaked havoc down the Union’s right side in the past few matches. Ale Bedoya and Oliver Mbaizo look tired and not on the same page at times. Now those guys have to try to stop Soteldo. Toronto is on a good run of form, but the Union will be starting their best players on this midweek match ahead of a crucial stretch of games. Can this Union side do the job and get a much-needed win?
Overcoming adversity for a crucial stretch
The Union is facing adversity right now that they have not felt for a good while. This team is dealing with a roster that doesn’t have the quality it did last season. Whether or not the Union has depth across positions, there is a clear dip in form as compared to their 2020 team. This is clear to see now with a decent sample size of matches to compare last year to this year. These next three matches are part of a crucial stretch that could determine if 2021 will be a successful season or not.
Philly plays a team on the rise Toronto on Wednesday, go to Supporters Shield favorite’s New England Revolution on Sunday, and then Philly goes down to Mexico to take on giant’s Club America in the CCL semifinals next Thursday. This stretch will determine if the Union can overcome all of the adversity that is on them right now. Things will be clear to see after the next nine days for Philadelphia, will they be able to surprise many and get results from all three of these matches?
This match against Toronto will be the key to starting a good run of form that Philly desperately needs. The Union will have their best available XI players starting the game, which should be enough to get the win at home against Toronto. Tension will definitely be in the air on Wednesday night. How the players deal with it will be telling. The teams of 2019 and 2020 were able to take those tense moments and find ways to get three points. Can this 2021 side do the same? Jim Curtin thinks so as he stated in his press conference that this team is one goal away from “opening the floodgates.” A multi-goal win against a good Toronto side would go a long way in terms of the confidence of this team.
I see the Union playing in their most comfortable 4-4-2 diamond. Curtin mentioning playing his best available XI means that the team should lineup this way against Toronto FC:
Blake; Wagner, Glesnes, Elliot, Mbaizo; Martinez, Flach, Bedoya, Gazdag; Santos, Przybylko.
This side might be tired, but they are the best XI right now. If they want to be a team that can make a push for the top four in the eastern conference and compete with Club America in CCL, then these guys will have to overcome the recent woes and get their S*** together. What better way to start this than by playing a team that has greatly underperformed in 2021 at home?
I see the Union winning a tight match 2-1 against Toronto. This will get that confidence back up for the Union as they head to New England on the weekend, where we should see almost a completely changed XI before the CCL match at Club America next week!
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Mandatory Credit: PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH