Philadelphia Union Preview: Cascadian Adventure

Union

After what has felt like an insane stretch of the schedule, it feels like the Union has finally hit the tail end of the busiest month of the season. The team has finally gotten through the busy stretch that is five games in two weeks and over 10k miles.

Union
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych

Union at Timbers Preview

On the heels of a five-game unbeaten streak, albeit it five straight draws, the Union are now traveling out to Cascadia to face a Portland team that is struggling to find their footing in a busy western conference but is a team that cannot be taken lightly at home. With the Union coming up to the end of the crazy stretch, let’s look at this Portland side and how they’re doing this season, the player to watch out for, and a prediction for this Sunday’s west coast trip.

2022 MLS Season

After just losing on PKs to NYCFC in the MLS cup final, it was expected that this Portland side would be coming out strong this season and push towards the top of the western conference. Despite the lofty expectations, this team has massively underperformed to this point in the season, accumulating a record of 3-4-6 for three wins, four losses, and six draws. This record puts them in 10th place in the western conference with 15 points.

Every time it feels like this team is getting some momentum, they struggle. The best run of form that they’ve put together is two unbeaten with those two games being back-to-back draws. They have put a seven to two shellacking of a poor SKC team in recent weeks, but outside of that, it doesn’t seem like this team is truly getting it together. In a game that they should have easily won, they managed to lose to a coachless San Jose team 3-2. It is tough to get an idea of how this team is going to play, which makes this article a bit tougher to write, given the circumstances.

X-Factor

The player that the Union should be looking out for is someone who has been able to take this team and attempt to push them in the right direction. This player in question would be midfielder Yimmi Chara. If that last name sounds familiar, it’s because his older brother, Diego Chara, has been an absolute force in the midfield for years in the western conference. To this point of the season, through 13 games, Yimmi Chara has three goals and four assists which comes out to a respectable output this point in the season. He is not the leading scorer on the team as that distinction goes to defender Bill Tuiloma, who has four goals on the season.

The thing that Chara brings to the game is his ability to break down a defense. He can sit patiently on a ball in the midfield to slow down the pace or speed things up and take the ball directly down the opponent’s throat. His ability to change things up is something that Philly’s defense absolutely needs to look out for. The Union has had a habit of turning off for brief moments in the second half which has cost them a few leads and a few points in this reason stretch. With Yimmi Chara, Philadelphia must be on its toes all the time, or it will be more of the same.

Prediction

This game is absolutely going to be an interesting one for Union fans to stay up for as it’s another late-night west coast battle. In some good news for Philly, they will be getting back Jose Martinez and Julian Carranza, which will be two players that the Union wishes they could have had during the Miami game. Portland is coming off a rough loss to San Jose and I’m curious if Philadelphia can break this stretch of draws to finally get three points again. That being said, I feel like this is absolutely going to be an absolute slog of a game and it will come down to who can put one in the back of the net on an awkward series of events.

This is where I think the Union will shine. They seem to thrive on the most awkward transition moments and getting goals on the counter that doesn’t feel like they should have gone in. This feels like the game where Philly finally breaks the draw streak. Put me down for a 2-1 Union win, stealing three points in the Cascadian fortress that is Portland. Game time on Sunday night is 10 pm.

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych

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