MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs New York City FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. New York City FC

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, April 11 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST) – Live on Sky Sports 5

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – New York City FC 12/5

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union welcome New York City FC to PPL Park on Saturday for an Eastern Conference clash with the hosts still looking for their first win of the 2015 MLS season.

The Union have suffered three straight defeats since opening their campaign with two draws and now find themselves at the bottom of both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.

Philadelphia head coach Jim Curtin will have a job on his hands to motivate the players after a devastating defeat away at Sporting Kansas City last weekend – the Union were leading 2-1 until the 90th minute before two SKC goals in injury time saw the game slip through their hands in the blinking of an eye.

PHOTO: Philadelphia Union look on helplessly (Picture courtesy of Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

PHOTO: Philadelphia Union look on helplessly (Picture courtesy of Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the loss, there were some definite positives for Philadelphia to take from the game, especially for Fernando Aristeguieta as he notched his third goal of the season and is leading the line well.

New York City suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Sporting Kansas City in their last game but they weren’t in action last weekend so they should be fully refreshed and head coach Jason Kreis has had a significant amount of time to prepare his players for this one.

New York are undefeated in their two games on the road this season and coming up against a side yet to record a victory as yet, they will expect to travel back home with at least a point to show for their efforts.

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The visitors are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference and a win could see them up to as high as second place depending on other results, so it’s an important game and a chance to put themselves in a solid position.

As New York City are new to MLS this season, these two sides have never met before, but they will get to know each other quickly as they will meet again at the Yankee Stadium next weekend and this game presents an opportunity to gain a psychological advantage going into that game.

Team News

Philadelphia Union will be without midfielder Fred as he serves the final game of his suspension. Fellow midfielders Cristian Maidana, Eric Bird and Vincent Nogueira are all doubts for the game due to injury, while striker Conor Casey could return to action following an abdominal strain.

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New York City will be without long-term absentee George John and defender Shay Facey could miss out with a groin injury.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s form: D/D/L/L/L

New York City’s form: D/W/D/L

Key Stat: Philadelphia Union have only won one of their last 12 games in MLS when combining the end of the 2014 season with the start of the 2015 campaign (D5, L6).

Key Player: David Villa – The Spaniard hasn’t fully kicked into life for New York City just yet but if he can start to perform to the best of his ability then NYC will be a real force.

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Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 1-1 New York City FC – The Union will be desperate to stop the run of three straight defeats against a New York City side that wouldn’t be massively disappointed to pick up a point on the road.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union

Venue: Toyota Park – Sunday, March 29 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST – Live on Sky Sports 1)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 6/4 – Draw 23/10Philadelphia Union 7/4

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park on Sunday evening in an all Eastern Conference clash as both sides look for their first win of the 2015 MLS campaign.

The Fire have had a slow start to the season, losing their first three games and they already find themselves rooted to the foot of both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.

Philadelphia suffered their first defeat at home to FC Dallas last weekend having previously tied their opening game at home to Colorado before an entertaining 3-3 draw with Real Salt Lake a week later. The Union are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference.

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Chicago have struggled to find the net in the early stages of this season but Harry Shipp did manage to notch their first goal during the 2-1 defeat at San Jose last time out.

Head coach Jim Curtin has only seen his Philadelphia side pick up one win out of their last ten games in MLS if you carry over from last season’s fixtures, and they will be desperately trying to pick up three points against a Chicago side that appear to be there for the taking.

The Fire have an even worse recent record in MLS, with just one win in their last 12 games and head coach Frank Yallop has got a lot of work to do in order to turn things round.

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The last meeting between these two was a 1-1 draw back in October. In-fact, all three of last season’s games between Chicago and Philadelphia ended in a tie.

Team News

Chicago Fire will be without long-term absentee Mike Magee. Midfielders Patrick Nyarko and Razvan Cocis are also out, while Shaun Maloney and David Accam are away on international duty. The Fire have signed midfielder Víctor Pérez on-loan from Spanish side Real Valladolid, so he could make his debut.

Philadelphia Union have survived the international duty exodus, but do have a long list injuries. C. J. Sapong, Cristian Maidana, Eric Bird, Sheanon Williams and Conor Casey are all out. Goalkeeper Andre Blake is also unlikely to return to the squad following knee surgery a month ago. Zach Pfeffer will miss out through suspension.

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Key Points

Chicago Fire’s form: L/L/L

Philadelphia Union’s form: D/D/L

Key Stat: There has never been a goalless draw between these two sides.

Key Player: Fernando Aristeguieta – With two goals from his opening three games, he is Philadelphia’s main goal threat and Chicago have got a job on their hands trying to contain him.

Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-2 Philadelphia Union – Chicago Fire have had a poor start and the Union should edge out their first victory of the season and heap more misery on Frank Yallop’s men.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Colorado Rapids

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs Colorado Rapids

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, March 7th – 16:00 ET (21:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Philadelphia 1/1 – Draw 23/10 – Colorado 11/4

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union face the Colorado Rapids in the second game of the 2015 Major League Soccer season on Saturday afternoon and both sides will head into the game hoping for better campaigns this time around.

The Union missed out on the playoffs by seven points as they ended in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and ended the last campaign with just one win in their last seven.

Things were worse for the Rapids last term as they ended 2014 as the third-worst team in MLS and picked up just 32 points in 34 games. They ended last season without a win in 13 and will hope they can start the new season in much better form with an away win in Philadelphia.

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The two sides met at PPL Park in July last year and played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in a game that saw the Union have two players sent off.

Colorado have never lost at PPL Park in four previous games and they will take confidence from that record.

The Union were solid at home in the second half of the 2014 campaign as they only lost one of their last 11 in front of their own fans.

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Both sides have been busy this offseason and the most notable arrivals are Fernando Aristeguieta for the Union and Marcelo Sarvas for the Rapids.

A lot has changed off the field and these two will hope things can change on it too as they look to start 2015 better than they ended the last campaign.

Team News

Philadelphia Union will be without goalkeeper Andre Blake (knee) and midfielder Danny Cruz (hamstring) for their season opener. Fernando Aristeguieta and Steven Vitoria should make their debuts.

The Rapids have a few concerns for their opening game as defender Drew Moor (torn ACL) and Charles Eloundou (fitness) are both ruled out. Shane O’Neill is a doubt as he is suffering from a stomach bug while goalkeeper Zac MacMath is ineligible to play against the club he is on loan from. Marcelo Sarvas should make his debut in the centre of midfield.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s form: N/A

Colorado Rapids’ form: N/A

Key Stat: There have been four red cards in the last three meetings between the sides at PPL Park.

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Key Player: Fernando Aristeguieta – The Young Designated Player should make his debut in attack for the Union and will be a threat from the offset. Expect him to start life in MLS with a goal against a Rapids defence that conceded more goals than any other side in 2014.

Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 2-2 Colorado Rapids – This could be another open game between the two teams but there will be little to separate them. Philadelphia have yet to beat Colorado at home and the wait could go on as neither will want to start the new season with defeat. Score draw.

MLS Opening Weekend: 5 Bold Predictions for Week 1

The 2015 Major League Soccer season is finally upon us! MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy take on Chicago Fire at StubHub Center tonight in the first game of the new campaign and it looks set to be one hell of a year.

The league is more competitive than ever before and the addition of the two new MLS Expansion franchises, New York City FC and Orlando City bring even more quality along with stars such as Kaka and David Villa set to play their first MLS game against each other in week 1.

Other standout fixtures for the first weekend include Sporting Kansas City vs New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders vs New England Revolution with both games taking place on Sunday after the Orlando City vs New York City game.

That’s all to come though so to fill your time before then, here are five bold predictions ahead of the first weekend of the 2015 MLS season. Lets go!

1. Chicago Fire to spoil LA Galaxy’s opening party

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The LA Galaxy are already favourites to retain their MLS Cup title come December and many see their opening game against the Chicago Fire as a relatively easy one. However, the Fire have invested heavily in the squad this offseason and have new stars in Kennedy Igboananike, Shaun Maloney and David Accam ready to pounce. Add that to the fact the the Galaxy lost their first game of last season too and you’ve got a recipe for Chicago success in the curtain raiser.

2. Fernando Aristeguieta to score at least two in debut against Colorado Rapids

The Philadelphia Union host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday and will expect to kickoff 2015 with victory, given that the Rapids have lost their last nine away games in MLS. New signing Fernando Aristeguieta should start up top and will have plenty of opportunities in and around the box to start life in MLS with goals!

3. All goals to be scored by debutants in Vancouver Whitecaps vs Toronto FC game

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Two Canadian rivals go head-to-head on Saturday night as the Vancouver Whitecaps take on a Toronto FC side set to unleash star signings Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco. Vancouver have a Designated Player of their own to unleash in the shape of Octavio Rivero and all the goals in this one will be scored by debutants.

4. Kaka and David Villa to both score on their debuts

All eyes will be on Kaka and David Villa as Orlando City and New York City start their first ever MLS campaign against each other on Sunday. Both players have been given the captain’s armband and will lead by example with stellar performances that will see both stars find the net.

5. Dom Dwyer to start the new season with a hat-trick

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Sporting Kansas City welcome the New York Red Bulls on Sunday evening and two English strikers will face up against each other once again as Dom Dwyer and Bradley Wright-Phillips (last year’s two highest goalscorers) go head-to-head in Kansas City. Dom Dwyer will outshine BWP on Sunday though and the Sporting KC hero will start 2015 with a hat-trick against a Red Bulls side that has gone through serious transition.

What are your bold predictions ahead of the opening weekend of the new 2015 MLS season?

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Philadelphia Union

As the 2015 season draws closer, we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what Philadelphia Union will be looking to do this season…

The Philadelphia Union endured a mixed campaign last time out as they failed to reach the MLS Playoffs but managed to get to the final of the US Open Cup where they fell 3-1 to the Seattle Sounders after extra-time. John Hackworth was removed of his duties at the midway point of the season after the Union won just three of their opening 15 fixtures. Jim Curtin was brought in and he will hope to guide the Union to the playoffs in his first full season in charge in what will be the club’s sixth season in MLS.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 6th – P34 – W10 – D12 – L12

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What needs to change this year?

The Union need to try and close games out much more effectively in 2015. They conceded 17 goals in the final 15 minutes of games in the regular season and that is not good enough. The worst example of this came in their 3-2 loss to the Columbus Crew in October as they threw away a two-goal lead in five minutes in a defeat that confirmed their elimination from playoff contention. Whether the late lapses were because of fitness concerns or just lack of focus, Curtin needs to make sure he addresses them and improves that poor record this year. Philadelphia conceded 51 goals last year and will want to improve defensively too. The addition of Steven Vitoria on loan from Benfica could help solve that problem.

Key changes to the squad:

Ins: CJ Sapong – Forward, Dzenan Catic – Forward, Steven Vitoria – Defender, Fernando Aristeguieta – Forward

Outs: Amobi Okugo – Midfielder, Pedro Ribeiro – Forward, Zac MacMath – Goalkeeper, Carlos Valdes – Defender, Aaron Wheeler – Forward

Key Player: Maurice Edu – Midfielder

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After spending last season on loan with the Union, Maurice Edu made his permanent return to MLS this January. The midfielder started in all 31 of his appearances last season, scoring three times with two assists, and was a key man in the side. Edu led the team in tackles and made almost 3 per game. He played at centre-back at times last year but is expected to play in his more natural midfield role in 2015 alongside Vincent Nogueira.

One to watch: Fernando Aristeguieta – Forward

The Venezuelan striker has been brought in on loan from French side FC Nantes as a young Designated Player and will be expected to fire the Union to success in 2015. The 22-year-old has it all according to his new coach: “He can run, he’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong — he has all of those things. But he also has good technique too,” Curtin said. Watch out for Aristeguieta.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 9th

Philadelphia Union have only made the playoffs once in their five-year history so far and that was in 2011. The wait could go on another year as it is unclear whether they have the strength in the current squad to make a splash in the Eastern Conference in 2015. It is a case of ‘what if’ as if Fernando Aristeguieta can score the goals, if Maurice Edu can control the midfield and if Steven Vitoria can shore up the defence then the Union could be a real force. But until they prove that there are too many teams that look stronger.

What are you expecting from the Philadelphia Union in 2015?

Philadelphia Union set to sign Fernando Aristeguieta as a DP

The Philadelphia Union look to have finally resolved their striking problem as they are set to announce the loan signing of Venezuelan forward Fernando Aristeguieta from French side FC Nantes before the end of the week, according to CBS Philadelphia.

The Union came close to signing the 22-year-old frontman back in December but the player agreed to join Spanish club Getafe in a six-month loan deal instead.

However, that move fell apart when Getafe could not fulfil their financial obligations to the deal and Aristeguieta returned to Ligue 1 with Nantes.

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Philadelphia have been pursuing other strikers across the globe since their original approach for Aristeguieta fell through but they now look set to complete a full circle by signing the target man.

The 6’2″ striker is expected to join on loan with the option to buy at the end of that deal and will join as a Young Designated Player.

Aristeguieta has scored 11 goals in 51 appearances for Nantes since joining the French club from Venezuelan side Caracas FC in January 2013.

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He helped the side earn promotion back to Ligue 1 in the 2012/13 season with eight goals in 17 Ligue 2 appearances in the second-half of that season.

He has not seen as much playing time since the club earned promotion and has only made six first-team appearances this season so the chance to move to MLS as the Philadelphia Union’s main striker will be an exciting challenge for Aristeguieta.

The young Venezuelan forward has represented his country 13 times, scoring once and has been a teammate of US international midfielder Alejandro Bedoya at Nantes for the past 18 months.

Is Fernando Aristeguieta a good signing for the Philadelphia Union?