Match Preview: Union look for 2nd straight win in afternoon meeting with Minnesota United

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Against all odds, a short-handed Philadelphia Union went out to Portland last Saturday night and returned with 3 points in their pocket after handing out a 3-1 humbling to the Timbers, their first win of the 2024 MLS Season. Now, with players returning from International Duty, the Blue and Gold will look to build upon their performance out West in an afternoon matchup at Subaru Park against one of Major League Soccer’s hottest teams to start the season – Minnesota United.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

Union vs Minnesota Match History

Minnesota United and Philadelphia Union have met a total of 6 times in meaningful games since The Loons joined MLS in 2017. In those 6 games, Union has a record of 2W-2D-2L, with Union outscoring Minnesota by a total of 15 to 11.

The last meeting between the two was a US Open Cup thriller that saw Kai Wagner score a 120th-minute equalizer, but ultimately The Loons would send Union home with kicks from the PK spot. The Loons are making just their 3rd trip to Chester, PA, and are looking to bring 3 points back to Minnesota for the first time in team history – which of course is no easy feat for any team entering Subaru Park.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

2024 So Far – Minnesota

Minnesota United has truly been one of the biggest surprises to start the 2024 season. Starting the year with an interim head coach and their star #10 missing from the roster, expectations around the start of the season were pretty low for The Loons, with the hand already leaning toward the Panic Button.

After a 91st-minute winner against Austin FC on the opening weekend, a 95th-minute equalizer against the reigning Champs in Columbus Crew, a 96th-minute winner on the road against Orlando City, and a convincing 2-0 win against LAFC, The Loons find themselves on 10 points and atop of the Western Conference, and just 1 point behind in the Supporters Shield race.

Starting the season without their most influential player over the last few seasons in Emanuel Reynoso, Minnesota has been getting things done on a by-committee basis. Teemu Pukka, Robin Lot, and Bongokuhle Hlongwane – which might be one of my favorite names in MLS to say – have all chipped in with 2 goals so far in 2024, and are subsequently leading the team in Expected Goals.

Another positive for Minnesota in the early goings of the season is the arrival of new Head Coach, Eric Ramsey. Ramsey, a former first-team coach under Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag, comes into MLS as the league’s youngest manager in history. The Loons welcomed the 32-year-old Ramsey to Minnesota with a 2-0 win against LAFC at home last – a pretty good way to kick off your MLS tenure – and will now look to put his stamp on this team in hopes of building on their strong start to the campaign.

When taking a step back and looking at Minnesota United from a big-picture perspective, stats might suggest that The Loons are over-performing early on in the season – which doesn’t exactly matter given their actual results – but could be indicative of the team coming back to earth soon if Eric Ramsey can’t get them performing on a more consistent basis.

8 goals for The Loons in 4 games, 5th most in MLS – but just 6.0 Expected Goals, which puts them right in the middle of the pack across the 29-team league(LA Galaxy leads with 11.1, Austin FC at the bottom with just 3.4).

Defensively, it looks like Minnesota has been a bit lucky not to concede more goals so far In 2024. Just 4 goals conceded through 4 games, the 3rd best total in Major League Soccer – but an Expected Goals Allowed total of 8.2, the 6th highest in MLS, and the 2nd highest in the Western Conference.

Interestingly enough though, Minnesota has only allowed 16 shots on target in 2024, the 4th lowest total in the league – suggesting that Minnesota allows their opponents to get in dangerous positions, but can escape threatening situations without conceding.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union

2024 So Far – Philadelphia Union

After a 3-1 win in Portland last week, Union brought themselves to 6 points in 4 games, which puts them at just 9th place, though they’ve got a game in hand against most of the teams in the league. 2 draws and a win on the road, and a stoppage-time equalizer in the opening game doesn’t feel too awful looking back on it now and puts Union just 2 points behind the Supporters Shield leading FC Cincinnati if they win their game-in-hand.

Unsurprisingly, the best front 3 (statistically) in Major League Soccer over the last couple of seasons are the ones leading Philadelphia Union thus far in 2024 – 2 goals each from Julian Carranza, Mikael Uhre and Daniel Gazdag in MLS play have helped the Union find their footing amidst their departure from the CONCACAF Champions Cup after a 6-0 whooping from Pachuca.

The biggest breath of fresh air so far this season has been 20-year-old Quinn Sullivan, who tallied his first goal of the MLS season against Portland last weekend. Versatile and able to play in several positions, Sullivan’s stamina, energy, and creativity have become undroppable and have propelled him as Union’s minutes-played leader after 4 games with 355 (Kai Wagner is the only other player over 300 minutes with 315).

From a big picture it might feel like Union are off to a bit of a slow start to the season, but being unbeaten through 4 games in MLS while juggling CCC is something to take forward with you – a feat only Union, St. Louis, and Cincinnati have achieved so far this season of the MLS sides competing in both competitions. 8 goals is the highest total for a team yet to play their 5th game of the season and has come on a 6.9 Expected Goals total – the 11th best total in MLS, and the 2nd highest amongst teams that have only played 4 games (MTL leads with 7.4).

Defensively, Union has conceded 6 times – which is tied for the 5th lowest total in MLS – on 5.4 Expected Goals Allowed. 5.4 Expected Goals allowed puts Union tied for the 8th-best total in MLS, but of course, they’ve played at least one less game than a majority of teams in the league.

The addition of backup goalkeeper Oliver Semmle has been a huge piece to the Union’s story so far this season and will provide comfort behind Andre Blake despite his expected absences due to International Duties later this season. Semmle made a strong 5 saves in the win against Portland Timbers last Saturday night.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union


Writing this article before Jim Curtin has met with the media to preview Saturday afternoon game, I’m not exactly sure which players are or aren’t back from International duty, or if any of them have returned with any sort of injury. With that said, I’d expect Jim Curtin to return to what I think is his preferred and best XI against Minnesota on Saturday if everyone is fit and available.

I think we’ll see a 4-4-2 Diamond consisting of Andre Blake in the net, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, and Nate Harriel in the backline. Jose “El Bruno” Martinez likely returns to his place at CDM, with Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan as the two shuttlers, and Daniel Gazdag at the top of the Diamond as the #10. Julian Carranza and Mikael Uhre will most likely man the attack up top in hopes of keeping their early goal-scoring form going.

As far as score predictions, I could see this game being a tricky one for Union to get across the line – especially with the resilient attitude of The Loons having scored an equalizing or winning goal after the 90th minute in 3 of 4 games this season. But with that said, Union is one of the best teams at home in MLS history – they very rarely drop 3 points at Subaru Park.

With the game being in the afternoon, the weather looking ~bearable~ for the first time in what feels like forever, and key pieces of the team returning to the lineup after watching their teammates bring 3 points back from Portland, I think the energy at Subaru Park tomorrow afternoon is going to be special.

Get out to the lots early, have a few drinks and some hangs with your friends and fellow Union fans, and watch the U keep their unbeaten form going – I’m predicting a 3-1 win for the Blue and Gold, with goals from Quinn Sullivan, Juliana Carranza and Daniel Gazdag – who by the way, is just 3 goals short of tying Sebastien Le Toux as the club’s all-time leading goal scorer across all competitions.

Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union II

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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union