The Philadelphia Union (8-12-6, 30 Pts, 9th Place Eastern Conference) host the expansion Atlanta United FC (10-8-5, 35 Pts, 7th Place), the first meeting between these teams.
LAST TIME OUT:
Both the Union and their opponent are coming off bad losses on Wednesday. The U were just totally outclassed by Toronto FC, 3-Nil, while the Five Stripes lost for the third time this year to DC United, 1-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
The U are stuck at six points out of the playoffs, but have played two more matches than Montreal Impact who are in 6th place. They still have 8 more matches to play but basically have to win just about all of them, and get help as well. Atlanta is in a lot better shape, one point below the red line with a game in hand. They have also played 3 matches less than the U.
For an expansion team Atlanta has been very consistent scoring wise. They have only been shut out 3 times this season. tied for second in MLS.
The man to watch is leading scorer, MF Hector Villalba who has 10 goals, three of which were game-winners. Pair that with F Yamil Asad‘s 10 assists, 4th most in MLS, and you can see why they are tough to keep off the score sheet.
PROJECTED STARTING XI (4-2-3-1)
GK Brad Guzan; D’s Greg Garza, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst, Anton Walkes; MF’s Julian Gressel, Jeff Larentowicz ,Miguel Almiron, F’s Hector Villalba, Josef Martinez, Yamil Asad,
The big news for the Union is the return of GK Andre Blake. Fill-in John McCarthy was quite good in a few outings but not a stopper in most others. It is especially hard to replace Blake’s numbers at Talen where he is 5-3-2, with a 1.20 GAA. Even with his injury Andre has a career high seven clean sheets.
PROJECTED STARTING XI (4-2-3-1, RIGHT TO LEFT):
GK Andre Blake; D’s Fabinho, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis; MF’s Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya, Fafa Picault, Ilsinho, Chris Pontius; F C. J. Sapong
At the risk of sounding like a stepford phan, I really feel like the Union team will be out to make someone pay for the last outing in Toronto. They need to do so if only to prove to the dwindling home faithful that they can play the game at an MLS level, while the players and Head Coach Jim Curtin could be playing for their future Union careers. I think as my projected line-up shows Curtin will start the usual suspects for possibly the last time as a unit at home if they continue their non-winning ways. I will call it 2-0 Union.