Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City
Venue: Talen Energy Stadium – Friday, April 8 – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)
Match Odds: Philadelphia 5/4 – Draw 9/4 – Orlando 23/10
The Union have surprised many people so far, with victories over Columbus Crew and New England Revolution helping them to sit third in the East heading into the weekend.
Jim Curtin will be pleased with the displays of his side, although last week’s 1-0 loss to Chicago will have left him bitterly disappointed. An immediate response will be expected here.Embed from Getty Images
Philadelphia have only played one home game so far and will see Friday night’s encounter as the perfect opportunity to send out another statement of intent. A win over Orlando will send them top of the Eastern Conference and that will be the objective from the outset.
That will be no easy task, however. Orlando are playing some excellent football and their 4-1 demolition of reigning MLS Cup champions Portland on Sunday night send shockwaves across the league.
That victory coincided with the return of star man Kaka. Having him back in action only strengthens what is already an impressive squad at Adrian Heath’s disposal.Embed from Getty Images
The Lions are one of only two sides yet to lose an MLS game in 2016 and will expect to extend their unbeaten run to five on Friday night. A win at Philadelphia will ensure they remain top of the Eastern Conference for the weekend.
This will be the third meeting between the two sides in MLS. They met twice last year in Orlando’s inaugural season, with the only clash in Philadelphia ending 1-0 to the Union. The game in Orlando finished 0-0 so Orlando have yet to score a goal against Philadelphia.
Philadelphia will be without Warren Creavalle as he will serve a one-game suspension following his red card against Chicago last weekend. The Union will also still be without long-term absentee Maurice Edu, though they are the only two concerns for head coach Jim Curtin.
Orlando City will travel to Philadelphia without Brek Shea, as he will serve a one-game suspension following a Disciplinary Committee decision made by the league. Conor Donovan and David Mateos remain sidelined, while Tommy Redding and Cyle Larin are both doubts. Larin has a hamstring problem but is expected to be fit by Friday night.
Philadelphia Union’s form: L/W/W/L
Orlando City’s form: D/D/W/W
Key Stat: Orlando have only lost one of their last ten MLS games in total and are one of only two unbeaten sides in the league in 2016.
Key Player: Kaka – The Brazilian star returned to action for Orlando on Sunday night and was instrumental in the impressive win over Portland. Expect him to show his class once again as Orlando look to remain unbeaten at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia Union 1-2 Orlando City – This should be an intriguing clash between two sides looking to take the Eastern Conference by storm this season. Both will expect to find the net but Orlando look very strong, with Kaka’s return making them appear unstoppable at this early stage. An away victory is expected, though the Union won’t go down without a fight.