Today is Game Day, and New York City FC will be in
Philadelphia Chester to face Philadelphia Union in a grudge rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
In case you’re new here, NYCFC won that game after defeating a Union forced to start several benchwarmers after COVID safety protocols sidelined some key starters. New York City went on to win the title, and Philadelphia has been simmering in their own resentment ever since.
But that was then: The Union are the No 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this year, and arguably the best team in MLS. NYCFC have had their downs, ups, downs, and ups in 2022, stumbling through the summer but then finishing the season with the best run of form in the league.
The historic head-to-head heavily favors NYCFC (10 wins, 2 draws, 6 losses, with a goal differential of 4), but Philadelphia beat New York City twice this season. First there was the 0-2 win in the Bronx that handed NYCFC their only loss at Yankee Stadium this year, then there was the ugly 2-1 game in Chester that the Union won in stoppage time.
Match: NYCFC at Philadelphia Union, 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals
Date and Time: Sunday, October 30, 8 pm ET
Venue: Subaru Park
Bruce Arena Forecast: Crisp with a light breeze, 56˚F/13˚C
Watch: FS1, Fox Deportes
Stream: Fox Sports, Sling TV
Listen: English and Spanish broadcasts on NYCFC Radio
• Player availability: Maxime Chanot, Tayvon Gray, Alfredo Morales, Maxi Moralez, and Talles Magno are all listed officially as questionable, but we consider them to be doubtful for this match. That’s right, five key starters stand a good chance of missing this game.
• That dire injury report throws a wrench in the back three system that interim head coach Nick Cushing installed at the end of the season, and that has been the foundation of the team’s six-game winning streak. Cushing had to scuttle the formation early in last week’s 1-3 win at CF Montréal in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and New York City looked vulnerable on the field in spite of the scoreline. Will Cushing stick with the back three, and slot in a player to replace Chanot? Or will he return to the back four used earlier in the season and trust that Alex Callens and Thiago Martins can lock down the defense? We’ll know when the lineup card is released about one hour before kickoff.
• NYCFC are massive underdogs, but you can't count them out. Cushing has a knack for getting his team to perform in high-pressure games when the odds are stacked against them, and his tactical acuity gets the most out of the players he has.
• Some good news: NYCFC will be in their Bronx Blue kit.
• This will be the 47th competitive match NYCFC play in 2022 — that's the more than another team in MLS this year, and the most in club history. That’s what you get when you make a deep run in the the CONCACAF Champions League, a decent run in the US Open Cup, win the Campeones Cup, and are one of the last four standing in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
• Philadelphia are a formidable opponent, with the best attacking trio in MLS. Julián Carranza (14 goals, 9 assists), Mikael Uhre (13 goals, 6 assists), and Dániel Gazdag (22 goals, 10 assists) are no joke. Learn more about them here.
• The Union’s only weakness? They're not so hot when Alexander Bedoya doesn’t play. The 35-year-old has been sidelined with an injury, and Philadelphia have only scored one goal in the three games he hasn't featured. Read more about the strengths and weaknesses of the Union here.
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UPDATE: The Starting XI was announced at 7:36 pm ET
Your Boys in Blue for the Eastern Conference Final @hays_us pic.twitter.com/FSyqZRH0lY— New York City Football Club (@NYCFC) October 30, 2022