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Preview and Predictions: Philadelphia Union vs. NYCFC

NYCFC head to Subaru Park to take on Andre Blake and the Philadelphia Union! Here’s everything you need to know.

MLS: New York City FC at Philadelphia Union Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

NYCFC take their six match MLS unbeaten streak to the City of Brotherly Love tonight at 8:00 PM EST. Our Boys came out victorious in this fixture back in May and they look to repeat that result at Subaru Park. Here, I’ll highlight what you should look out for.

Lets get started:

How to Watch:

Date: August 18, 2021

Location: Subaru Park, Philadelphia, PA

Time: 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

TV/Streaming: YES Network, YES App, ESPN+

Radio: Listen here.

Injury Report:

Heber: Working back to full fitness after his ACL injury. Out for tonight.

Opposition Preview:

The last time these two sides met was back on May 1, and fortunately for NYCFC, the Philadelphia Union picked up an early red card which allowed for an easy 2-0 victory for the good guys. That turn of events is unlikely to repeat itself this time around so let’s get into what Jim Curtain’s side does well.

Sitting at 5th in the Eastern Conference, the Union find themselves in prime position to make a push for a solid seed when the MLS Cup Playoffs come rolling around. However, they are winless in their last two games including a 2-0 defeat to Club America in the CONCACAF Champions League. Philadelphia was thoroughly dominated and just lacked the quality to stay near the Mexican side.

Ronny Deila made sure to emphasize that Philly are a tough side, exemplified by their standing, and City won’t be taking their challenge lightly. The way in which the Union play is very direct; they want to win second balls while physically dominating you. With two strikers and the No. 10 not too far behind them, they hope to have many attacking options during the transitional periods when the ball is lost as they can break quickly on the counter.

Deila also made a point to discuss Philly’s pressure, which is rather interesting. He characterized it as very aggressive and if the City defenders lose focus, we could be in for a long night. The NYCFC back line will have to be strong and decisive on the ball while making sure to get stuck in on tackles during the course of this match. The tactical duel between Curtain, who will try to slow the game down and make it a bit chippy, and Deila, who will inevitably urge his side to build up as City Football Group clubs do, will be mighty interesting to watch.

Jim Curtain also pointed out that this is the healthiest his squad has ever been. Everyone is available for selection.

NYCFC Preview:

After a 2-0 victory at Red Bull Arena at the weekend, City march into Subaru Park with confidence and a hunger to climb up the Supporters Shield standings. In the lead up to this match, we got a plethora of insight from the manager on how he likes his side to play on a weekly basis. He emphasized that it is the principles, regardless of system, of how we play that are important. Some of these principles are:

Finding Overloads: At a young age you learn that if you have more players in a certain area of the field you can create passing triangles that will allow you to play through your opponent.

Utilizing Half-Spaces: There is arguably no more dangerous position during the build up phase than a skillful attacker picking the ball up in the half space and running at a backline. City do this quite often and I can’t lie, if I saw Thiago pick up the ball and run at me as a center back I would look a lot like this..

Switching the Play: NYCFC emphasize that switching the play high and quickly directly off of a change of possession can create opportunities for overloads that can be exploited. The benefits of switching the ball high come when a defense is slow to rotate, thus creating dangerous 1-v-1’s and crossing opportunities for wingers and fullbacks.

Overall, the sentiments that overwhelmingly dominate the way in which City Football Group clubs play are there. We must control the ball, switch the play, create chances, and if we lose the ball it must be recovered immediately.

You will see a lot of these principles in action tonight. With prematch coverage set for 7:30, Deila’s men will look to dominate the center of the pitch with the 4-2-3-1 formation that he feels makes them far more attacking. This seems to be the formation of choice as it encourages them to be more decisive in the final third, allowing for an extra player up front. The manager points out that it is our defenders excelling in their duties that allow us to play in this more offensive set up. James Sands and Maxime Chanot have formed a partnership that seems to be the first choice for now. Here’s an interesting tidbit on Deila’s thoughts on the familiar Alex Callens-Chanot partnership that we’ve become so accustomed to.

In general, however, NYCFC must keep up the style of play that has brought success throughout this season. Continue to build up play through the back, win your individual battles, control the midfield, and most importantly FINISH!!

Predictions: Lineup and Result

City will likely take the field in the same shape as it did last time out. However, don’t be surprised if we go three at the back to neutralize the threat of second balls and to counter Philly’s direct play style.


3-1, NYCFC! Good guys come out victorious in this one, on the road. I really do think City can dominate possession against this Philly side and Keaton Parks will have a huge part to play in that. If the back line can be organized and play mistake-free football, the Boys in Blue should have no problem leaving Subaru Park with three points.