A look at Philadelphia Union’s 2022 schedule: Part One

Union take on last-place

There are only 10 days until the start of the 2022 MLS Season! As is tradition, it’s time to break down all 34 of the Philadelphia Union’s matches. This year we are taking a look at Philly’s 2022 season in three parts; here’s a look at the beginning of the Union’s 2022 season.

Union take on last-place

Games 1 – 14

The Union plays the first third of their 2022 season between Feb. 26 and May 28. In that time they will play 14 games; seven at home, seven on the road. At this time the Union will play nine teams in their own conference and five from the western conference. The opportunities to pick up crucial points from this early stretch cannon be overlooked.

  1. Sat, Feb. 26 – vs Minnesota
  2. Sat, March 5 – @ Montreal
  3. Sat, March 12 – vs San Jose
  4. Sat, March 19 – @ NYCFC
  5. Sat, April 2 – vs Charlotte
  6. Sat, April 9 – vs Columbus
  7. Sat, April 16 – @ Toronto
  8. Sat, April 23 vs Montreal
  9. Sun, May 1 – @ Nashville
  10. Sat, May 7 – @ LAFC
  11. Sat, May 14 – vs New York Red Bulls
  12. Wed, May 18 – vs Miami
  13. Sun, May 22 – @ Portland
  14. Sat, May 28 – @ New England

The first three months of the season are always an important time for the Union. In the past few years, they have been able to gain a good amount of points to be at or near the top of the east. This part of the season is always important, but Philly seems to find a way to truly set their style of play in the first third of the season ahead of the dog days of summer. Let’s break down the first third of the schedule month-by-month.

Setting a winning foundation in month one?

  • Sat, Feb. 26 – vs Minnesota
  • Sat, March 5 – @ Montreal
  • Sat, March 12 – vs San Jose
  • Sat, March 19 – @ NYCFC

The Union plays their first four matches at the end of February and March. The games are intriguing as the Union plays home-away-home-away. Not only this, but they also play two western conference teams in this time, which is getting back to normal after 2020 and 2021 where the Union only played western conference teams twice in both of those seasons.

Philly open their 2022 season at home against Minnesota United. The Loons finished fifth in the west last season, and are looking to progress yet again in 2022. In week two, the Union goes up to CF Montreal. Montreal is looking good already in 2022, as they are in Concacaf Champions League, only giving up one goal to Mexican side Santos Laguna in leg one of the Round of 16. Week three the Union are home again and welcome San Jose Earthquakes. This of course will be the return of Jamiro Monteiro to Chester, as he was traded to San Jose, who is trying to rebuild themselves into a contender once again. To end the month of March, Philly goes to NYCFC. It’ll be an eastern conference final rematch, this time in a baseball stadium.

As far as opening matches goes, these four present challenges but also opportunities. Two of these matches are against playoff teams from 2021, the other two are hungry to prove something in 2022. This year’s Union team is built for success. Their goalkeeping, defense, and midfield are ready to win now; the attack has been overhauled and being branded the final piece to a championship puzzle. For Philly to set a foundation, they’ll need to get between seven-nine points from these first four matches.

Only conference opponents in the second month

  • Sat, April 2 – vs Charlotte
  • Sat, April 9 – vs Columbus
  • Sat, April 16 – @ Toronto
  • Sat, April 23 vs Montreal

Philly also plays four matches in April, but these four matches are a bit different than the first four. In April the Union only plays teams from the eastern conference. Three matches at home, and one on the road. In the past two years, the Union has beaten up on the other teams in the east to finish first in 2020 and second in 2021. Can they do this again in 2022?

April starts off with a home game against newcomers Charlotte FC. Charlotte is somewhere between a Minnesota United and a Nashville United in terms of roster build; it’ll likely take some time for them to truly compete in the east. In week six, Philly takes on the Columbus Crew at home. Columbus is looking for a bounce-back year in 2022 after their fall from being champions in 2020 to missing the playoffs in 2021. The lone away match in April is at Toronto FC. Since this match falls before the summer transfer window opens, the Union will miss out on seeing Lorenzo Insigne this go-round, will Toronto be competitive before the superstar’s arrival? Philly ends the month in week eight at home against CF Montreal. This will be the final time these two meet in 2022, and it comes early in the season; being able to win a season series is an important step on the pathway to success.

The Union will be eight games in at this point, and halfway through the first third of their 2022 season. Since these matches in this stretch are all in the east, the Union needs to try to get 10 points to really get a stranglehold on the east early in 2022.

A tough stretch leading to the summer

  • Sun, May 1 – @ Nashville
  • Sat, May 7 – @ LAFC
  • Sat, May 14 – vs New York Red Bulls
  • Wed, May 18 – vs Miami
  • Sun, May 22 – @ Portland
  • Sat, May 28 – @ New England

The end of the first third of the Union’s 2022 season is a tough six-game stretch over the five weeks in May. Three of these matches will be against eastern conference opponents, and three are against western conference. Four out of the six matches are on the road in this brutal month.

The Union goes down to Nashville SC to open their new stadium on the first day of May. Nashville was third in the east last year, but this year they move to the western conference; can they have the same success in the west? The following week Philly head west to take on LAFC. This of course will be a rematch of the epic match between the two sides that occurred in 2020, just before the Covid shutdown; could this match be the same type of thriller? In week 11, the Union returns home to face their “rival” New York Red Bulls. Red Bulls will look for revenge on the field where they were eliminated in the 2021 playoffs, but they may face similar troubles in 2022. In their only midweek match of the first third of their season, Philly welcomes Inter Miami CF just four days after playing New York. Miami has overhauled their entire rosters coming into 2022, and time will tell if that will make them better than 11th place in the east. In week 13 the Union is on the road again this time going to the Portland Timbers. Portland lost MLS Cup on their home turf, and this match will be a sort of what-if as it will be the team that lost in the eastern conference final going to Portland to play. The Union ends a long five weeks on the road to New England Revolution. The Revs are gearing up to defend their 2021 supporters shield win, as the past two winners of the shield meet early in the season.

With this being a very tough stretch, the Union will need to be strong physically and mentally to get the points needed to stay a contender in MLS. The best-case scenario could be winning at home and drawing on the road. This would give the Union 10 points from these six matches, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

How will the Union fare 14 games in?

After the first third of the season ends, the Union has a two-week break at the beginning of June. Before that point, the Union will have played fourteen matches, half at home and half on the road. How will the Union fare in these first 14 matches, could they be seen as true contenders or as a slumping giant?

Throughout breaking down the first three months, I said the Union need to get 27-29 points from their first 14 matches to be seen as a true contender. This makes a lot of sense and would mean the Union would have more wins and draws than losses. This is a best-case scenario and probably an overly optimistic one. However, if the Union’s true goal is to make a push for MLS up, then they will need to show that intent from match one.

Be on the lookout for part two of the Union’s schedule tomorrow (Feb. 17,) and part three on Friday (Feb. 18!)

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