Why Philadelphia Union would want NYCFC in the MLS Eastern Conference Final

mls eastern conference final

Philadelphia Union and New York City FC meet for the second successive season in the MLS Eastern Conference Final. Last year, it was NYCFC who got the better of the Union – courtesy of a 2-1 victory in Pennsylvania back in December 2021.

Why Philadelphia Union would want NYCFC in the MLS Eastern Conference Final

They beat Philly en route to winning their first MLS Cup title. This time around, Jim Curtin will be hoping that they can replicate what Ronny Deila’s team achieved.

However, would the Union rather have faced CF Montreal in the Eastern Conference final? The Canadians lost to the Boys In Blue, which is maybe for the better when building up to Sunday’s showdown. Here are three reasons why.

Firstly, there’s a matter of revenge

When meeting The Pigeons in last year’s Conference Final, the Union were without 11 players, due to health and safety protocols. Andre Blake, who’s been an MVP candidate this year, was ruled out alongside three of the back four in front of him.

Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott and Kai Wagner were nowhere to be seen. That being said, the midfield contained the likes of Jack McGlynn, Josef Martinez, Leon Flach and Daniel Gazdag. With Alejandro Bedoya still a doubt, that quartet would love to make amends this season.

Secondly, Montreal chased them all the way

Philadelphia Union sealed their fate as Eastern Conference Winners thanks to a 4-0 victory against Toronto.

And the fact it hadn’t been wrapped up before the final matchday is testament to Wilfried Nancy’s side. Le CFM will be kicking themselves, given they took one point from the two league games against Philly.

One defeat in their final 15 league games meant that they were keeping tabs on the Union until the very last matchday. Even then, they raced into a two-goal lead against Inter Miami but knew – thanks to goings on in Pennsylvania – that they couldn’t catch their American counterparts. 

And finally, their recent record against NYCFC is strong

The Union completed a league double over the Cityzens for the first time in history. A 2-0 victory at Yankee Stadium in March was succeded by a 2-1 victory at Subaru Park in June. Alejandro Bedoya and Daniel Gazdag were the heroes in New York.

But their clash in Chester was insane. Mikael Uhre fired the hosts ahead early on. However, an 89th minute NYCFC penalty was duly converted by Taty Castellanos. It looked like the visitors had left it late to pick up a precious point.

But the drama wasn’t to end there. A 96th minute Cory Burke winner – after diverting Josef Martinez’s initial shot at goal – proved the difference between the two teams. After careful Video Review, the goal was given and it proved a pivotal three points.

Ultimately, the Eastern Conference Winners enter this clash brimming with confidence. Determined as ever, with the Supporters Shield having slipped away, they’re a few matches away from doing what no Philadelphia Union team has ever done.

They’d love to rub NYCFC’s noses in it, after all the COVID controversy last year. But they would certainly settle for another dramatic 96th minute winner, to ultimately seal their passage to the MLS Cup final.

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