Philadelphia Union Preview: The Rumble Down Under the Bridge

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SAN JOSE, CA – SEPTEMBER 25: Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin during the Major League Soccer match between the Philadelphia Union and the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on September 25, 2019 in San Jose, CA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)

In a blink of an eye, the Philadelphia Union are already getting ready for week 3. It’s crazy to think that the team has already had two games so far this season.

Starting off the year at home, the team had a rough 1-1 draw against Minnesota United. Last week, they traveled to the Olympic stadium in Montreal, where they gritted out a solid 2-1 victory over CF Montreal with goals by ‘El Capitan’ Alejandro Bedoya and DP attacking mid Daniel Gazdag. This game also saw the first appearance of DP striker signing Mikael Uhre, but also saw a red card to Julian Carranza, who will be out for this week’s game.

Next, the team welcomes the San Jose Earthquakes to the Soob. These teams have a split meeting record of 4-4-4, last squaring off in 2019 with the Union coming away 2-1 victors away to San Jose. Let’s look at the Quakes, how they’re fairing this season, a player to watch out for, and my prediction for the game.

2022 MLS Season– San Jose Earthquakes

The 2022 season has been a mixed bag of results for Matias Almeyda’s side. The coach who is arguably on the hottest seat in the league does not pull punches when it comes to his side.

In a Bielsa-type coaching style, Almeyda has implemented a man-marking system for the past few seasons with very mixed results. When the team is on fire, the team is a dangerous underdog. But, when the team is not fairing so well, the wheels can truly fall off the bus and that has basically been the story so far this season.

The Earthquakes started off the year with a sluggish 3-1 loss to NY Red Bulls, where, despite having 69 percent possession, they only managed two shots on net out of a total of 12 shots. This past week was a slightly better result, but still had some unfortunate circumstances surrounding the game.

Despite coming down from a 3-1 deficit to draw the game even at 3-3, they did so without the services of former Philadelphia Union midfielder Jamiro Monteiro, who received a first-half red card for a nasty challenge on Darlington Nagbe. Initially given as a yellow, this challenge was reviewed through VAR and ultimately changed to a red, which means that Jamiro will not be returning to Chester in a Quakes jersey.

The team did manage to take a point from the Columbus Crew with two late goals coming from second-half substitute, Francisco Calvo, who is now the team’s leading scorer at this point in the season.

X-Factor: Cade Cowell

The player on San Jose that will attract the most attention (if he starts) is the young American forward, Cade Cowell

Cowell burst onto the scene in the 2020 season, playing in 17 games and scoring 1 goal/1 assist.  Last season saw Cowell play in 33 games, putting up a tally of 5 goals and 6 assists. While those stats don’t appear to be much, this kid has a lot of talent to put on display.

A player who seems to thrive in the Almeyda pressing system, he takes full advantage of this system to play to his strong suit, which is taking the ball in behind the defense and putting a solid shot on the net. If he does get the start, which I imagine so due to the absence of Monteiro, I expect him to either play on the wings just behind the striker or as a false nine up top.

The Philadelphia Union defense will have to be on high alert if he is on the field and given a lot of space to run onto. I fully expect Brujo or Leon to be watching him like a hawk to make sure that he doesn’t get going. If the team can limit his chances, then the Union should be able to control this game well.

Prediction– Union Win

All this being said, I truly expect this game to have a solid number of goals scored. With the red card shown to Carranza against Montreal, the team will be without his services for this upcoming week.

Fully expect this game to be the full debut of DP striker Mikael Uhre, who came on for about 20 to 25 minutes against Montreal and created two very good chances on his own. I’m not sure about other Philadelphia Union fans, but I can certainly say for myself that his play left this writer salivating over the thought of him feasting on this Quakes defense.

It will be curious to see who Jim throws out there next to Uhre. Sergio Santos started the game against Montreal as Cory Burke was away from the team due to the birth of his second child. With Burke being back in contention for selection, it will be interesting to see which striker Jim Curtin goes with.

The one constant in these first two weeks has been the solid play of Daniel Gazdag. Gazdag has come into this season as a man on a mission, showing the team and the fans what he has been trying to do for his tenure here. His linkup play with the strikers has been phenomenal and it even led to him scoring a nice close-range goal to put the team ahead up in Montreal.

If he can keep this play going, I don’t see any reason why this team doesn’t come away with a victory. I see the Union continuing their winning ways, securing a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. If you agree with my prediction and want to wager some money on it, the Philadelphia Union are -155 favorites, with San Jose being +380, and a draw is +270.

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Game time on Saturday is set for 7:30 pm. I hope to see everyone there at the Soob!!

Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire