Premier League newcomers AFC Bournemouth play their first preseason game on Tuesday night as Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union will play host to the Cherries at PPL Park in what should be an intriguing game.
Bournemouth won the Championship with relative ease last season and so Eddie Howe‘s side fully deserve their place in the top flight of English football. But they know it will be a tough season and so their preseason preparations must be executed perfectly.
A trip to the United States to face the Union will improve team spirit and will help the new signings gel with their teammates before they play their first game together on Tuesday night in what will be a real test.
The fact that Philadelphia are in the middle of their domestic campaign will help them as fitness levels will be at the perfect level, whereas Eddie Howe’s squad have not played a game for over two months.
Preseason is all about improving match fitness but the Cherries may suffer against physically more equipped opponents at this stage of their summer.
As well as fitness, Bournemouth will be looking for a positive result and there is no doubt that returning to England with a win will be the aim here.
Many Bournemouth fans, and perhaps players too will likely be surprised by the quality of play that the Union will be able to demonstrate. Major League Soccer has improved dramatically each year and teams are now in a position to give even the strongest Premier League sides a test.
Philadelphia are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference and sit 16th in the overall MLS standings. It’s not been a perfect season by any stretch for Jim Curtin’s side but they haven’t lost in three and beat Portland Timbers 3-0 at home on Saturday night – a game the Bournemouth players watched from inside the owner’s box at PPL Park.
Five of their six wins this season have come at PPL Park and they are always better in front of their owns fans.
Philly lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace in a friendly last July and will be looking to put in a better performance this time around against the Premier League newboys.
Over 15,000 fans turned out to watch the game against Palace last year and so another good atmosphere is to be expected for Tuesday night’s game.
Jim Curtin will no doubt be prioritising Saturday night’s game against Toronto FC and so star players will not feature for more than 45 minutes on Tuesday. But a strong team is to be expected as Philadelphia will likely line up in their familiar 4-2-3-1 formation – a system Bournemouth will come up against numerous times in the Premier League this year.
Maurice Edu has made more starts than any other Philadelphia player this season and the versatile American will likely continue in defence for the visit of AFC Bournemouth.
At the other end, CJ Sapong and Cristian Maidana will need to be watched closely. Sapong has five goals and two assists in his last nine games, while Maidana assisted all three goals in the win over Portland on Saturday.
Eddie Howe will likely opt to start with the 4-4-2 system that worked so well last term and new signings Sylvain Distin, Christian Atsu, Tyrone Mings and Joshua King will all expect to feature.
What do you think the score will be in Tuesday night’s friendly?