In what feels like a righting of the ship, the Union has now ripped off a three-game win streak. Their latest effort was a solid 2-1 comeback win against New England, vaulting themselves once again to the top of the eastern conference.
CHESTER, PA – JULY 16: Philadelphia Union Forward Mikael Uhre (7) reacts to scoring a goal during the second half of the Major League Soccer Match between the New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union on July 16, 2022, at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)
Union vs Orlando City preview
After going down to a solid team goal from Gustavo Bou, the Union switched back to their typical 4-4-2 diamond formation and brought on starters like Uhre, Bedoya, and even a super sub Cory Burke. Mikael Uhre got the game tied on a nice header from the corner and within five minutes, Daniel Gazdag put the team ahead on a PK after getting two hands shoved from Henry Kessler.
Union secured nine points in nine days in 2-1 win over Revs
In true karmic fashion, Kessler was responsible for the foul and later in the game, got a taste of his own medicine when Alejandro Bedoya poked the ball out of his hands in about the same spot Kessler infamously punted the ball into the stands last year. Now, the Union must turn their attention to the land of the Mouse, Orlando. Let us look at how Orlando is doing this year, the player to watch out for, and a prediction for this upcoming game down in the Sunshine state.
2022 MLS Season
After what felt like a bit of a disappointing end to the 2021 season, Orlando knew they needed to retool a bit and really get some more attacking firepower. Out went the likes of Daryl Dike and Nani. In came players like Ercan Kara and Facundo Torres. It has been a mixed result season so far. While these players have contributed well so far, the team is not up in the standings as high as they think it should be.
So far this season, through twenty-one games played, they have accumulated a record of 8-7-6 for eight wins, seven losses, and six draws, which is good for thirty points and fifth place in the eastern conference. While this might not be the exact place they saw themselves, they can certainly hang their hats on the fact that they have made an impressive US Open Cup run, where they will be facing the New York Red Bulls in the semi-finals. As I said before, certainly a mixed bag of a season but one that Orlando fans can at least have a bit of positivity on.
The player that the Union should look out for maybe a familiar one to some Union fans who paid attention to transfer rumors during the offseason. The player in question is none other than DP striker Ercan Kara. Union fans might recognize the name as this was a player that the team was linked with and for a while, the team was considered one of the top targets to acquire the former Rapid Vienna striker. So far this season, through twenty league games played, Kara has put up a stat line of seven goals and two assists. It is a decent stat line for his first season in the league. The one thing that Kara does well is dropping in and connecting with the players running in and around him.
He is a true target forward in that he loves to be physical with the center backs and suck defenders into his space, allowing his teammates to create chances around him. This is something that the Union will need to look out for. He is a handful in and around the box, which makes him the absolute focal point of the offense. If the team can limit his ability to disrupt the play of the center backs and force the Orlando midfield to attempt much tighter passes, the Union could walk away with three points this upcoming weekend.
It’s hard to pick against this Union squad given the run of form they have been in. The offense is running on all cylinders and the defense has been even more shutdown than they have in the past. With this combination, it is hard to see them slipping up. This could present a troubling game for the Union. Their history of going down to Orlando has been mixed at best and most fans will certainly be thinking about this prior history going into this game.
Even though Jim tinkered with the lineup in the last game, I think he will go back to the usual 4-4-2 diamond that the team loves to run as we saw against New England in the second half. I fully expect the front three of Gazdag, Uhre, and Carranza to get a run-in and see if they can press the hell out of the Orlando backline, which is still a bit rough given that players like Antonio Carlos are returning from injury. If Uhre and Carranza can get in behind and create some havoc, this will be another three points for the team down in the Sunshine state. Put me down for another 2-1 victory. Game time on Saturday is 7:30 pm.
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Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire