The Philadelphia Union enter August still in first place in the Eastern Conference and on a five-game winning streak. They have just two losses on the season as they head to FC Cincinnati, who are in a tie for the final playoff spot. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at TQL Stadium in Ohio, streaming on ESPN+.
This will be the Union’s fourth trip to Cincinnati and their second game at TQL Stadium. They won 2-1 in Cincinnati last year and have never lost in this series. FC Cincinnati grabbed a 1-1 draw in Philadelphia back in June, just the second time in seven tries that the Union didn’t win against FCC.
Philadelphia Union Overview
The Philadelphia Union are easily the most consistent team in MLS. They have allowed zero or one goal in 21 of 23 games this season and never more than two.
The team has also scored in 20 of their 23 games and only scored more than two goals twice. But when they do score more than two, they have scored six and seven for two of the biggest scorelines in MLS this season.
One of those wins was last weekend when they blasted Houston Dynamo 6-0 at home. The Union scored three goals in both halves with five different goal scorers. The only player to net more than one was Mikael Uhre, who now has eight on the season.
Manager Jim Curtin keeps the lineup consistent as well. Midfielders Daniel Gazdag and Leon Flach, along with defenders Kai Wagner and Jakob Glenses, have started all 23 games alongside goalkeeper Andre Blake. Defender Jack Elliot and midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Jose Martinez have started at least 20 games.
The other three positions don’t rotate much. Julian Carranza has started 18 of the 23 games at striker, while Nathan Harriel has 17 starts as the fourth defender. The second striker position is the only one where no one has started half the games as Uhre has 11 starts and Cory Burke has six.
Blake hasn’t left the field this season, and the All-Star has ten shutouts to go with 12 wins and nine draws. He’s allowed a league-low 15 goals and produced 68 saves.
Gazdag leads the Union with 11 goals, while Uhre and Carranza both have eight. Bedova has five goals and five assists, while Wagner has five assists.
FC Cincinnati Overview
FC Cincinnati return home tied for seventh place with 29 points. They are behind in the tiebreaker with Inter Miami and Charlotte FC but could potentially leapfrog into fifth place with a win on Saturday.
Last weekend the orange and blue got their captain, Luciano Acosta, back from red-card suspension. The All-Star missed three games for making contact with an official and returned to help FCC score four goals in Miami. They overturned deficits on three occasions but saw Miami tie the game late and settled for a 4-4 scoreline.
FC Cincinnati are the third team in MLS history to have two games in the same season where both teams have scored at least four goals. Besides Saturday in Miami, they also tied NYCFC 4-4 on June 29. They came close twice against Montreal as well, with a 4-3 loss in May and a 4-3 loss in April
On the season, the Orange and Blue have scored 37 goals but allowed 42. They have been shutout just once since April 16 but haven’t posted a clean sheet in the last seven games. They have allowed 16 goals in that span, yet they’ve lost just once.
FC Cincinnati are led in scoring by 23-year-old Brandon Vazquez, who is second in MLS with 13 goals. He had two at Miami, as did Brenner, who has seven goals on the season. Acosta has six goals and a team-best seven assists, while Vazquez and Brenner both have four assists.
The Cincinnati depth took a hit this week as midfielder Haris Medunjanin left the team in a mutual decision. The Bosnian native played in 19 of the 23 MLS games while starting four times on the campaign.
Goalkeeper Roman Celentano took over the starting job in April and has allowed 28 goals in 16 games. He has 45 saves and three clean sheets. In his 16 starts, FCC has just four losses, and they have won or drawn eight of the last nine.
Philadelphia Union at FC Cincinnati Match Prediction
The Union are road favorites in this one at +135. FC Cincinnati is +180 to win at home, and a draw is +240.
Total goals is set at 2.5, with the over at -130 and the under at +105. Both teams to score is -175.
The main question here is if FC Cincinnati can find a way to score against the Union’s stingy defense. Neither team played in mid-week and should be at full strength for Saturday.
FCC needs to tighten up the defense; they can’t keep living dangerously with the 3-3 or 4-4 games and need to find a way to win 2-1 or 1-0. This week that’s easier said than done against the best team in the East.