The final weekend of the MLS season prior to the break for the World Cup begins on Friday night when the Philadelphia Union take on Toronto FC in an Eastern Conference clash which is pretty crucial for both sides.
Both teams sit outside the top six heading into the weekend and will be looking to enhance their position. Given that they are at home this is probably a bigger match for the Union especially as they don’t play in midweek unlike the Canadians.
I think it is fair to say that the Philadelphia Union’s season has been much better than many expected and if they can just find some consistency when they come out of the mid-season break then they have every chance of sneaking into the play-offs which will certainly represent a decent campaign after the struggles of last year.
Their home form has been the key to much of their success so far this term. They have only lost once at home and have won their last three and while you could question the quality of the opponents in that time, the fact that they have scored 10 goals in those matches suggest a comfort and a relish in their own conditions.
The defending champions are heading on the way to providing one of the worst title defences we’ve seen in the MLS. Having been impregnable in the regular season last year they have barely been able to win a game this term and their campaign so far was summed up last week when they failed to hold on to a three goal lead at Columbus Crew.
In all Toronto FC have won just three of their 12 matches this term and while some of those can be written off because they were focusing on the NACL that excuse has gone. They are no longer the solid at the back and tough to beat side they were last season, although in fairness a lot of that is down to injuries, and they lack a bit of depth in the centre of the park.
Philadelphia Union will be without the two men who were sent off in that amazing incident against Atlanta United last week. That means there is no Alejandro Bedoya or Haris Medunjanin while Richie Marquez remains out.
Toronto FC will still be without the likes of Jozy Altidore, Drew Moor and Chris Mavinga while Justin Morrow is said to be doubtful having strained his calf. Sebastian Giovinco is fit which is a boost for the champions.
Toronto FC might just have landed themselves in a plum spot here because not only do they face a Philadelphia Union side who played the better part of 70 minutes with nine men just six days ago but they also played in the US Open Cup in midweek whereas Toronto had midweek off with them not being in that competition.
With that in mind I’m tempted to back the champions here but I think a better way to play the match could be over 2.75 goals because Toronto don’t keep many clean sheets these days, indeed they have just one in their last 10 matches ironically against the Union, and Philadelphia have scored goals at home recently. The Union have lost their shield in front of the defence for this match so they might need to play more on the front foot but if they tire late on that should play into Toronto’s hands. I like the over here.
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