Road Trip! These two words usually elicit cheers from people trying to get their last shots in before the Final Whistle blows on Summer. Not so much for the Philadelphia Union (8-11-5, 29 Pts, 9th Place Eastern Conference) who are 1-7-3 away from Talen Energy Stadium, as they travel to face the San Jose Earthquakes (9-10-5, 32 Pts, 6th Place Western Conference). To make it even scarier San Jose is virtually unbeatable (7-1-4) at home, with a five-game unbeaten streak in MLS play, the last four being W’s.
Union & Earthquakes Series History:
San Jose has a 4-3 edge, and the teams have tied twice. At Avaya Stadium it is 2-1-1. The last time they met was a 1-1 draw in Chester on 4/30/16. In that match the U gave up the tying goal in the 83′ despite being up a man. The U do have 2 W’s and that draw in their last three meetings.
Last Time Out:
The Union and the Earthquakes are both coming off 3-0 defeats. The U’s was an uninspired home loss to the Montreal Impact, while the Quakes lost on the road to the Houston Dynamo.
What’s At Stake:
The U heading into the weekend are 6 points out of the playoffs, with a game in hand on the Columbus Crew SC, but two games behind expansion Atlanta United FC, both at 35 Pts. The Quakes are treading water above the red line with the Vancouver Whitecaps only 1 Pt behind them, but with two games in hand.
The obvious man to watch for San Jose is F Chris Wondolowski. He leads the team with nine goals and five assists. He is the Quakes all- time leading scorer and also fourth on the MLS all-time scoring table.
Projected Starting XI (3-5-2, right to left):
GK Andrew Tarbell, D’s Florian Jungwirth, Victor Bernardez, Francois Affolter, MF’s Nick Lima, Anibal Godoy, Jahmir Hyka, Darwin Ceren, Shea Salinas F’s Chris Wondolowski, Marco Ureña
With GK Andre Blake still out with the lacerated hand, John McCarthy will be a key to giving the U a chance to win this game. Keeping it close and late would be huge as the Quakes have conceded 13 goals in the last 15 minutes of matches this season, an MLS high.
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left):
GK John McCarthy, D’s Raymon Gaddis, Josh Yaro, Jack Elliott, Giliano Wijnaldum, MF’s Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, Chris Pontius, Roland Alberg, Fafa Picault, F CJ Sapong
The Union while bad on the road, have been 2-1-1 overall against Western Conference teams above the red line. They have been so inconsistent this season that it is hard to predict which team will show up week to week. For these reasons, and the aforementioned penchant for the Earthquakes to give up goals in the waning minutes, I feel a bounce-back effort from a desperate squad, and will call for a 2-1 Union victory, coming from behind late to win it.