Philadelphia Union (n) Match Preview
Orlando City faces off against the Philadelphia Union in Group A decider.
Two down, one to go. We are up against the Philadelphia Union in a match that will decide where we finish in Group A. If we lose, we get second. If we draw or win, we get first. It's that simple. Now, you might be asking why it's so important to get first in the group if we're already through to the knockout stages. Here's why.
If we get first, we will go up against the third-place finisher from Group C, Group D, or Group E depending on our points tally and that of the third-place finisher. If we finish second, we play against the second-place team from Group C, a group consisting of TOR, NE, DC, and MTL. I don't know about you guys, but I would much rather prefer to play a third-place team than a second-place team.
Let's get into my three keys to the match.
1. Take this game seriously
I've seen some questions on my timeline about whether we should rest some players since we are already through the group stage and while I doubt the people asking are saying we should rotate, I fully believe we need to take this match seriously. We must not forget that this is a regular-season match as well, and if we are going to make the playoffs for the first time in our history, then we need to earn as many points as possible from our regular season matches.
Elliot Holman brought up a great point in our discussion on the last podcast when he said that Philadelphia could be one of our rivals for a playoff spot. I believe this is absolutely correct and taking three points from the Union will go a long way to helping us make the playoffs for the first time in our history. We must look beyond this tournament and go for the win. A draw is not terrible, but we shouldn't be aiming for it just because we'd get first in the group. For instance, if we are 1-1 with 10 minutes left, I don't want us to start sitting deep in order to preserve our first place spot. We must be focused on the bigger picture.
2. Ruan must replicate his NYCFC performance
Looking at Philadelphia's influence map from all four games (it's basically an average position map), the Union definitely attack up the right side and sit deeper on the left. Here's their last three games.
LAFC (before COVID-19):
Gaddis pushes up way higher than the left-back (Wagner and Real) does. He then links with Bedoya on the inside right channel. With the left-back sitting deeper, Ruan will have a lot of space to push forward into in order to impact the final third. With this space, Ruan must replicate his crossing output from the NYCFC match if we are to get anything out of this match.
3. Don't overcommit
What have we seen from our team these last few games? High pressing. It's worked brilliantly against two decent sides in Inter Miami and NYCFC. For the Philadelphia Union however, we must be smart with how many numbers we send forward and when. Philadelphia clearly likes to attack by drawing the defending team forward, then passing through them quickly to get shots on goal. We must not fall for this trap. Instead, we should only send our front four to do the pressing and leave our two holding midfielders back.
Overcommitting is exactly what the Union wants us to do, which is why I'm entering a sub-key to the match, which is: we must score first. If they score first, we have to overcommit, which falls perfectly into their hands. If we score first, however, the Union will be forced to change their style to start looking for an equalizer, something they haven't looked good at doing. In their 4 matches thus far, the Union have only trailed once, but in that match, they struggled to create chances after falling behind. Before conceding in the 61st minute to FC Dallas, the Philadelphia Union had 9 shots and created 8 chances. After the goal, they only had 4 shots and created 2 chances, even though they had 30 minutes to push for an equalizer. We must get the first goal in order to take control of this match.
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Where to Watch: TUDN, TUDN app, Twitter (English commentary)
Stadium: ESPN Wide World of Sports
Team News (ORL): None
Team News (PHI): Jose Martinez (suspended), Wooten (questionable), Santos (questionable), Ngalina (questionable)
Predicted Lineup: (4-2-3-1) Gallese, Ruan, Carlos, Jansson, Moutinho, Urso, Rosell, Mueller, Pereyra, Nani, Akindele
Score Prediction: 1-0 Win
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'Til next time, this has been Gavin Rushnell and #VamosOrlando