There are nine days until the 2022 MLS Season starts! 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 middle of the Union’s 2022 season.
Games 15 – 24
As the season moves to the summer months, the Union will move to the middle of their 2022 season. This is traditionally where we have seen Philly slump a bit. Whether it’s because of players called up for international tournaments or midseason fatigue, this is usually a tough time for the Union. In 2022, Philadelphia will play nine opponents from the east and just one team from the west in June and July. Could this be the summer where the Union’s form doesn’t dip?
15. Sat, June 18 – vs Cincinnati
16. Sun, June 26 – vs NYCFC
17. Wed, June 29 – @ Chicago
18. Sat, July 3 – @ Columbus
19. Fri, July 8 – vs DC
20. Wed, July 13 – @ Miami
21. Sat, July 16 – vs New England
22. Sat, July 23 – @ Orlando
23. Sat, July 30 – vs Houston
24. Sat, Aug. 6 – @ Cincinnati
Philly will play 10 games in eight weeks, which means there are more midweek matches that pop up in the summer. Through the first 14 matches, the Union only played one midweek match. In this grouping of matches, the Union will play two midweek matches; which means, that they play six of their 10 matches inside stretches of seven and eight days. Let’s look at these summer matches a little closer.
A chance for points to start the summer
- Sat, June 18 – vs Cincinnati
- Sun, June 26 – vs NYCFC
- Wed, June 29 – @ Chicago
- Sat, July 3 – @ Columbus
- Fri, July 8 – vs DC
After a two-week break at the end of May, the Union get things going again at home on June 18. This kicks off a four-week grouping of games that are all against eastern conference teams. While this is the part of the season where the Union seems to falter a bit, it is a huge opportunity to take points away from the rest of the eastern conference; 15 points are on the table!
The Union gets back to their MLS play against FC Cincinnati. While Cincy has a new-look team filled with former Union players, coaches, and front office members, they still trying to move out of the basement of the eastern conference; Philly should get a W here. The next week NYCFC comes to Chester. This game will be a huge revenge one for Philly and could help shape the eastern conference standings as it’s the last time these two meet in the regular season in 2022. The Union has a quick turn around having to go to Chicago Fire three days later. Chicago looks vastly improved for 2022, the Union will need to be wary of their new-look attack, and exploit their unimproved defense. Philly continues their road trip going to Columbus Crew SC three days after Chicago. Columbus fell from grace in 2021 after winning it all, could they pose a threat in 2022 as they look to get back into contention in the east? The Union end this four-week summer stretch by playing DC United at home. DC was one point short of the playoffs in 2021, and to be honest, they don’t look much better ahead of 2022; the Union should win this one.
The Union enter the summer months with five matches inside of four weeks; four of the five against eastern conference teams that were not playoff teams in 2021. While Philly tends to fall off in the summer, if they want to be true contenders in MLS in 2022, then they’ll need to get a good haul of points from these five games. Winning at home against Cincinnati and DC is a must. If they falter against NYCFC (which I don’t think they’ll do) and drop points, you can live with that if they can get four points on their road trip to Chicago and Columbus. Realistically the Union should shoot for gaining 11 points from these five matches; if they can do this, they’ll be in good shape heading into the dog days of summer.
The dog days of summer
- Wed, July 13 – @ Miami
- Sat, July 16 – vs New England
- Sat, July 23 – @ Orlando
- Sat, July 30 – vs Houston
- Sat, Aug. 6 – @ Cincinnati
Philly continues their 2022 season in the dog days of summer. They have another five games in a four-week stretch, this time alternation away and home matches. This grouping of games also has a western conference opponent in Houston. These tough summer matches will be hot and humid, and present as much of a mental challenge as a physical one for the Union.
Philly starts this grouping off by going to Inter Miami CF for a midweek match in the middle of July. It’ll be hot and humid, as the Union takes on a totally rehauled Miami side; it’ll be the last time these two meet so points will be crucial if a tie-breaker is needed. The Union follow that match up three days later with a home match against New England Revolution. When these two meet it always means something; this will be the final time these two meet as the top two from last season face-off yet again. The next week Philly goes down to Orlando City SC. I don’t know who scheduled the Union to go to both Florida teams in July, but that’s what is going to happen, it’ll take true resistance to get points there! The Union returns home to play their last home regular-season match against a western conference team, the Houston Dynamo. Houston finished dead last in the west last year, Philly should win this one. As the calendar moves to August, the Union goes to FC Cincinnati to end this grouping of games. The Union has won five times and drawn once in the six MLS games played against Cincinnati, they should continue that streak here.
As the Union enters the dog days of summer they face tough matches in tough environments. Three road games, two of which are in Florida in July, home matches against the best team from 2021, and a team that they rarely face make for the likelihood of dropped points in this grouping. The Union will be happy to get three points from their three away games and four from their two home games in this stretch. A total of seven points from five matches obviously isn’t ideal, but this part of the schedule could prove to be most challenging for a team whose form dips in the summer.
Will Philly be in a good place two-thirds of the way through 2022?
The Summer months tend to plague the Union, at least they have in years past. This year looks like it could be a bit similar, but maybe not a freefall down the standings. With five matches at home and five on the road in this 10 game stretch, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up points and also drop points.
Realistically the Union can get between 18 and 21 points from this stretch of games, but that’s if everything goes their way and they are able to manage the summer heat and travel in this window of matches. If not, it could be one where we see the Union only get 10 to 13 points. That is a huge disparity, and only time will tell if this version of the Union will be able to handle the summer wing of matches better than their previous versions.
This marks the Union’s season being two-thirds of the way completed. At this point, they should be seen as a competitor that is making a case for the top of the eastern conference. With ten matches to play, Philly could be sitting on or around 45 points which would mean they are most definitely a contender in MLS.
Be on the lookout for part three of the Union’s schedule tomorrow (Feb. 18) where we’ll look at the end of the summer and the final stretch of the regular season!
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Mandatory Credit: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire