Saturday night marked the final home game of the regular season for the Philadelphia Union. With one team in the city already in the midst of their playoffs, the Union is gearing up for their turn in the postseason ring. Before they get there, though, they have two more opponents to face: Nashville SC at home and October 21st in New England.
Philadelphia welcomed Nashville into Subaru Park on a chilly night with much on the line at home. With a win, the Union would be sitting a bit more comfortably in a top-three spot. A loss would put them in a dogfight to retain a third or fourth-place finish.
All Hail the Captain
Before the first kick, the club congratulated captain Alejandro Bedoya on his 200th MLS start. The Englewood, New Jersey native has proven himself to be a leader both on and off the pitch in his seven-year career with Philadelphia. Union head coach Jim Curtin presented Ale with a framed jersey commemorating the milestone. Both sides would flex their defensive muscle throughout the contest. Philadelphia’s back line contains Golden Boot candidate Hany Mukhtar and the Nashville attack. Nashville SC would consistently answer the call to protect against a Union attack that, behind the combined efforts of Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza, and Mikael Uhre, have combined for 100 goals in the last two seasons. The first half would come to a close with the score level at 0-0.
The second half would feature more of the same defensively. Both sides are able to contain staunch attacks and keep their goalkeepers from having to handle anything too heavy. Forward Quinn Sullivan would take a seat at the midway point of the second half for Uhre to attempt to give the attack a set of fresh legs. Maybe it was a fresh approach, as Sullivan was unable to really get anything going offensively. It wouldn’t make any difference, though, as the match would end in a scoreless draw. This gave both sides one point going into the final international break before the regular season ends.
Positioning in the Conference
With Philadelphia having the week off before their final match on the 21st in New England, a lot of their final positioning in the conference will depend on the two teams they face to round out their season: New England and Nashville. The two teams face each other on October 14th, the one game they have in hand. Best case scenario: Philadelphia finishes third. The worst-case scenario is looking to possibly be fifth and having to play through the MLS Cup playoffs on the road. The Union, essentially, can control its own destiny come October 21st. The club will take some time to reset and prepare to wrap up the regular season in two weeks.