NO. 5 FC CINCINNATI at NO. 1 PHILADELPHIA UNION – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2022 – 8 p.m. ET – SUBARU PARK
HOW TO WATCH
National TV: FS1 and FOX Deportes
Stream: FOX Sports
Local Radio: ESPN 1530
Broadcast Talent: JP Dellacamera (play-by-play), Cobi Jones (analyst)
Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Kevin McCloskey (analyst), Alex Stec (sideline)
Be sure to follow @FCCincinnati on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for live updates from the game.
SCOUTING PHILADELPHIA UNION (19-5-10, 67 PTS, 1ST EASTERN CONFERENCE)
Head Coach: Jim Curtin (Eighth Full Season as PHI’s Head Coach)
Captain: Alejandro Bedoya
Leading Scorer: Daniel Gazdag (22)
Leading Assister: Kai Wagner (15)
Goals Scored: 72 (Most out of 27 clubs)
Goals Against: 26 (Fewest out of 27 clubs)
Goal Difference: 46
FC Cincinnati’s opponent on Thursday presents plenty of challenges for the Orange and Blue:
- Philadelphia Union went unbeaten at Subaru Park this year (12-0-5).
- The Union scored 49 home goals this season, tying the MLS record for most home goals in a single season.
- The Union produced the second-best defensive season in MLS history at 0.76 goals conceded per game. They conceded just 26 goals this year, a new record for the fewest goals allowed in a 34-game season.
- With 72 goals scored this season the Union broke their previous record of 58 in 2019. It’s also the most goals scored by a single club since LAFC in 2019 (85) and their goal difference of 46 is the best since that 2019 LAFC squad’s 48.
The impressive facts above are simply a few reasons why Head Coach Jim Curtin’s squad earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and a bye into the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Their three-headed attack is led by Daniel Gazdag, whose 22 goals was one shy of the league-lead held by Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar. He leads the league in goals scored from the penalty spot, converting all seven of his attempts this season. Add in his 10 assists, this season he became the sixth player in league history with at least 20 goals and 10 assists.
Julián Carranza (14) and Mikael Uhre (13) also reached double-digit goal tallies, and just two of their 27 combined goals came as a PK. Carranza, however, has failed to find the back of the net since August, as part of their 4-1 home victory over Atlanta on Aug. 31. It’s not for a lack of shots however, he tallied four shots in each of his final two games of the regular season.
Veteran captain and former USMNT midfielder Alejandro Bedoya is key for the Union, on and off the field. But he has played just 16 minutes since Sept. 10, dealing with a hip flexor strain. 19-year-old Jack McGlynn has primarily filled his role, while Leon Flach and José Martínez are part of the Union’s superb midfield.
Then of course there is the Philadelphia defense. Two of the three league-wide MLS finalists for Defender of the Year come from the Union in Jakob Glesnes and Kai Wagner. Glesnes, a Norwegian center back, was also the only field player in MLS to play every single minute of the regular season, playing 3,060 minutes while receiving only two yellow cards. Glesnes led the team with 57 interceptions and had 26 tackles while only conceding 18 fouls.
Wagner, the team’s leading assister, became the first defender in MLS history to have 15 regular season assists, tied for second most in the league behind Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta. He also collected 30 tackles won and led the team with a 73.1% headed duel percentage.
And their goalkeeper is among the league’s best. Jamaican international Andre Blake is a finalist for both Landon Donovan MLS MVP and for Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, an award he has already twice won in his career. His 15 clean sheets led MLS and his league-low 26 goals against set a new record for fewest goals in a 34 game season. His 19 wins are the most in a season for a goalkeeper since 2018 (Luis Robles, RBNY: 21).
Three players started all 34 games this season for Philadelphia (Andre Blake, Daniel Gazdag, Jakob Glesnes), the first team to have three players start 34 games in a regular season since, also the Union, in 2019 (Jack Elliott, Ray Gaddis, Haris Medunjanin).
Curtin and the Union have the most points in MLS over the past five seasons, which includes earning the 2020 Supporters’ Shield. They finished level with LAFC on points this year, but just missed out on the Shield due to less wins (21 for LAFC, 19 for PHI).
Despite the consistent success, the high-dollar transfers of successful Union-developed players to Europe including Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie, and now five straight years in the MLS Cup Playoffs, the Union are seeking a first berth in the MLS Cup. In 2020 after earning the Supporters’ Shield, they bowed out to No. 8 seed New England Revolution in Round One before last year reaching, and hosting, the Eastern Conference Final against New York City FC. But they fell to the eventual champions, 2-1.
This year, the Union’s home record has been well-documented. In the nine MLS games since the Orange and Blue held the Union to a 1-1 home draw on June 18 at Subaru Park, the Union are 9-0-0, outscoring opponents 40-5.
Thursday’s matchup will broadcast nationally on FS1 and FOX Deportes and over the radio locally on ESPN 1530.
For more information on the Orange and Blue’s second appearance in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, visit FC Cincinnati Playoff Central for more information.