Philadelphia Union Face Rival D.C. United on the Road

Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin looks on in Washington, DC
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PREVIEW – Following a tight draw against Montreal and a nine-game unbeaten streak at home, the Philadelphia Union head back on the road to face rivals D.C. United in a Saturday evening match at Audi Field. This will be Union and United’s third meeting this season. The Philadelphia Union is up 2-0 in the season series.

Philadelphia Union Face Rival D.C. United in Away Match

Historic foes along the northeast corridor, the Philadelphia Union remains strong with the upper hand, not just this season but in the past few years. In the 2021 season, Philadelphia snagged the 1-0 road win in May and collected a 2-1 home victory in July.  Philadelphia hasn’t lost to United since the 2017 season, with a nine-win, one draw record in that interim space.

Philadelphia Union Need to Prove their Points

Despite their record against D.C. United and their third-place standing in the east, Philadelphia has been grinding out unconvincing victories and draws this season. They’ve relied heavily on their defense, their youth, their bench, and their ability to turn around last-minute goals in the waning minutes of matches to eke out respectable points.

After a lackluster performance against Montreal – a potential loss salvaged by Quinn Sullivan’s 87-minute goal – the Union will need to prove they can put out a performance worthy of their standing. They’ll need to settle questions about their offense and inconsistent style of play (What happened to the press?) in the process.

D.C. United Fighting for Playoff Spot

As for D.C. United, they’ll be playing hard to clinch the points needed to meet the playoffs. A home win against Philadelphia would mean points and momentum to propel them into fall.

D.C. currently sits seventh in the eastern conference, just enough to earn a playoff spot. Their playoff spot though is a precarious spot. D.C. United is tied for points with Atlanta United FC who sit just south of the playoff line. However, D.C. edges them out on a goal differential of two. A five-game unbeaten streak (Starting in July, following their last loss to Philadelphia) fell at the feet of Nashville on August 15th. They’ve been on a three-game losing streak since.

What to Watch For

Whereas Philadelphia Union’s strong suit is defense, this is where D.C. United has struggled most this August. Philadelphia has the second-lowest goals-against statistic in the MLS. Only Seattle Sounders have a better defending record.

On the other hand, D.C. United’s backline has proved a bit more porous in recent weeks. They let in five goals from Nashville, three from New England and two from Atlanta in their last three games. Fortunately for D.C. United’s backline, Philadelphia Union hasn’t thrilled fans with their offending. They’ve fumbled through the season looking for a consistent goal scorer, failing to emerge with a clear answer.

Down in the district, though, D.C. has a few players who reliably knock away goals. One player to watch for D.C. United’s front line is Ola Kamara, notching in 11 goals this season. Jim Curtin has assured fans that a full week of training will produce better results. Curtin promises more strategy in the attacking third. We’ll see rested legs and a robust starting line-up with all our typical starters on the field.

Prediction

Saturday’s match will be a scrappy contest with teams competing on different strengths. A strong defense and but the shaky offense will face its opposite across the pitch. It won’t come easy, but I think the Philadelphia Union come away from D.C. with a third victory this season, defeating their rivals 2-1. The game time starts at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.

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