The Philadelphia Union will try to get back to their winning ways on the Wednesday night as they play the first of back-to-back matches against Orlando City SC.
Despite a 4-2 loss against New York City FC last weekend, the Union are still enjoying their best start in franchise history, having earned 32 points in 19 games. This has them on top of the table, but DC United, the Montreal Impact, and Atlanta United are breathing down their necks.
Orlando City, on the other hand, have had a pretty mediocre season so far. They are just below the playoff red line with 21 points. Their home record is a not-very-good 3-4-1. This is an opportunity for the Union to snag three points on the road.
The Lions have some offensive firepower. Nani, their new Portuguese winger, has 8 goals and 6 assists in league play. Forwards Tesho Akindele and Chris Mueller have six and four goals respectively. On the top of that, they also have Union killer Dom Dwyer.
The Union won’t have Andre Blake to stop their shots, as he is still on international duty with the Jamaica national team in the Gold Cup. In his stead will probably be Matt Freese, who seems to be the preferred option for head coach Jim Curtin over Carlos Miguel Coronel. Also unavailable will be their new forward Andrew Wooten, who can’t officially join the team until July 9 when the summer transfer window opens. One person who will be available is former Orlando City fullback R.J. Allen, who just signed a contract with the Union this week. As much as Allen would like to play against his former club, he is likely to begin his Union tenure on the bench behind Ray Gaddis and Kai Wagner.
The Union are likely to stick with their regular starting XI. The only real question is do they stick with Ilsinho and the 4-2-3-1 they used in the NYCFC match, or do they go back to the midfield diamond with Brenden Aaronson at the top of it. Being as the U will be back playing on a regularly sized pitch, I suspect we’ll see the diamond again.
Union can and should win this one. But I think the Lions are better than their record indicates, and no matter who you’re playing, winning on the road is tough. I do think there will be goals scored, so I am going with my gut and predict a single road point. Prediction: Union 2, Orlando City SC 2