Welcome to MLS 2016 Playoffs. Good news is that the Philadelphia Union will be competing for the first time in 5 years. Bad news is, Union are currently not in playoff form. This team ended the season on a 7 game winless streak. CJ Sapong, the main striker for the team, has not scored a goal in over two months. The odds may be stacked against the Union but it’s the playoffs and anything can happen.
Union will travel to Canada to face Toronto FC in the first round of the playoffs in a one game series. The game is at 7:30pm on Wednesday October 26th. 2011 was the last time the Union were featured in a playoff series. The team faced Houston Dynamo in a 2 game series, losing 3-1 on goal aggregate. The lone goal for the Union came from Sebastian Le Toux.
Toronto FC and the Union have faced each other twice during the 2016 regular season. The first match took place on August 20th at Talen Energy Stadium. Centerback Ken Tribbett struggled in this game along with the rest of the team, giving up 3 goals in the first half. This resulted in a 3-1 loss for the Union. Match two between these two teams took place on September 24 at BMO field in Toronto. Alejandro Bedoya scored his first goal for the Union, when he chipped the goalkeeper(video below). However Toronto would tie the game up in the 70th minute to capture a point from the game.
Last Sunday’s game ended in a lost against the New York Red Bulls. Not much to talk about from this game. Jim Curtin gave CJ Sapong, Barnetta and Chris Pontius a rest and started Eric Ayuk, Ilsinho and Ronald Alberg. The game ended in a 2-0 loss for the Union, ending the season with a 7 game winless streak.
To summarize, anything can happen tomorrow however the odds are heavily against the Union. The Union are 0-4-1 in all playoff competitions, 2016 matches against Toronto and their most recent played game. Nevertheless, the Union have the talents in players like Andre Blake, Keegan Rosenberry, Alejandro Beyoda, Chris Pontius and Tranquillo Barnetta to beat a Toronto team that features players such as Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco.
Predictions and observations for this week’s game:
-Predicted Score line: 2-1 Toronto
-Predicted Union Lineup: Blake, Fabinho, Marquez, Tribbett, Rosenberry, Carroll, Bedoya, Pontius, Barnetta, Ilsinho, Sapong.