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NYCFC vs Philadelphia Union – Preview and 4 Questions

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May 27, 2023; Flushing, New York, USA; New York City FC midfielder Gabriel Pereira (11) celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Union with defender Tayvon Gray (24) and forward Andres Jasson (21) and midfielder Santiago Rodriguez (10) during the first half at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York City Football Club travel down the Turnpike (New Jersey Turnpike for you non-NJ folks) to take on the rival Philadelphia Union in what’s guaranteed to be a hostile Subaru Park on Saturday. Having faced each other in each of the past two Eastern Conference Finals in PA (each team winning one) there is little love lost between the two. But big surprise, it’s NYC and Philly, the hate transcends the individual sport itself. The Union won the first matchup between the two teams this season; a 3-1 win at Citi Field 6 weeks back in a match that saw NYCFC score first, then squander the lead by give up two goals in first half added time, both to Julian Carranza, crushing the team’s mentals going into the half. As always, 4 questions I feel like asking as the team plays it’s last MLS match for a full month. Here we go:

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1) How Much Will the Union Be Affected by Wednesday’s Match? Doop will be facing two issues when it comes to their match this weekend, having just played on Wednesday night in a 2-0 win on the road in Nashville and possibly even more impactful, the loss of Julian Carranza due to a red card at the end of that match. Carranza is the team’s leading goal scorer at 10 and while the club has both Daniel Gazdag and Mikael Uhre at 9 and 7 goals respectively, the loss of the Argentian Forward can only help a young NYCFC club’s chances, especially since he (as mentioned before) scored two against the Cityzens the last time they met.

2) How Does NYCFC Get A Win Going Into This Break? Fairly simple: Keep Uhre and Gazdag away from the ball and sneak one past Andre Blake. Union are tied for 6th in MLS with just 25 goals conceded and having Andre Blake back in the lineup will only make it harder for NYCFC to get a goal in this match. Had his native Jamaica defeated Mexico on Wednesday in the Gold Cup, Blake would be unavailable for this match, giving further advantage to NYC. Over the team’s 8 game unbeaten streak (3rd longest in club history oddly enough) they’ve vastly improved in the second half, averaging 1 goal conceded in the second half prior to New England (the start of their streak) and just 3 in the following 8. This ability to tighten up later will play a factor here, especially as the Union, on short rest, go late into the match. I feel that going into halftime 0-0 or even better 1-0 would give NYCFC a MASSIVE advantage. Lastly, one of the more obscure facts I found the opposing team running more during this 8 game streak. In the first 15 matches NYCFC’s opponents dribbled an average of 648 yards towards Barraza and Freese, in the previous 8, that number jumped to 934, a 44% increase. Simply put, the team is forcing the opposition to burn more energy running.

3) Should They Lose, What Will the Team Psyche Be? Let’s start with the worst. While the team has been playing with greater confidence both on the pitch and in training, I don’t get the sense they could shake off a loss to Philly with ease going into the MLS break. A loss would be devastating to their playoff chances as the team sits in 13th and while only 3 points behind 9th place Chicago, the 9th through 12th place teams all have 1 game in hand. Even I feel like a tie would be rough on their mentals at this point, Subaru Park or not. If the team comes out on the losing end I could see them rage-winning over Atlas in the first match of the Leagues Cup however on July 23rd. So there’s something..

4) Should They Win, How Much Does That Help the Psyche? Oh nelly, that team will celebrate like they won a title. Going into this MLS break with a victory after the way they’ve been playing would be a huge boost for the club to see three points for their efforts of late. The team has outshot their opponents 21-9 in the last 3 matches which is a huge positive. That kind of pressure will be needed to get one past Blake, or better yet 2.

There’s my 4 questions, now I have one for you: Can NYCFC win this match and going into the break with 8 points in it’s last 4? Let me know in the comments. Until next time, stay awesome.

About the author – Scott Churchson has been an actor in every way for the past 13 years, from BG to stand in to stunts and principal, a sports writer for the past 4 and is one of the people that created Stream Punk Entertainment. He’s married to a veterinarian, has a cat with three working legs, a mother-in-law who just moved in and is just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe.

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