What should AFC Bournemouth expect in friendly against Philadelphia Union?

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.

Preparation

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.

Form

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.

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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.

Tactics

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.

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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?

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Portland Timbers

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Portland Timbers

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, July 11 19:00 ET (Sunday, July 12 00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 6/4 – Draw 23/10 – Portland Timbers 7/4

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union take on Portland Timbers in this tasty clash on Saturday night for the first and only time the two teams will meet this season.

Philadelphia Union sit eighth in the Eastern Conference and come into this one off the back of a 2-2 draw at home to Montreal Impact. Captain Maurice Edu bagged his first goal of the season but had to settle for just a point.

PPL Park isn’t quite the fortress it should be, as Union have only won four times at home. The Union have been inconsistent, causing upsets with victories over highflying teams in MLS but then going on to lose or draw to the teams around them and it fails to give them the momentum to put together a decent run.

They play back-to-back away games after this tie, with visits to Toronto FC and DC United, two very tough fixtures, so a win against the highflying Timbers would be three very valuable points.

Eric Ayuk Mbu also got on the scoresheet last time out and he will be feeling ready to fire for the Union and help his side seek out a win.

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Portland Timbers sit just one place off top spot in the Western Conference, after what was a slow start failing to win in their opening four matches.

Portland Timbers lead the form table ahead of Western Conference side Sporting Kansas City. Their only defeat in their last seven was the 5-0 demolition by LA Galaxy but their heads have not dropped since that crushing loss, conceeding one goal in their last two.

Jack Jewsbury is becoming a late goal specialist with his second 90th minute winner against San Jose Earthquakes, this follows his previous winner against Colorado Rapids.

Five defeats on the road for Timbers is what is halting them for taking complete dominance in the Supporters’ Shield standings, where they currently sit fifth.

Last season, the two teams played out a 1-1 draw.

Can Portland Timbers do what Supporters’ Shield leaders DC United did and win at PPL Park?

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Team News

Injuries decimate both teams as Philadelphia Union will miss Sebastien Le Toux (knee), Michael Lahoud (quad), Fernando Aristeguieta (fibula), Conor Casey (quad), Steven Vitoria (hamstring DNP). Andre Blake is playing at the Gold Cup with Jamaica.

Portland Timbers will be without Ben Zemanski (ACL), Diego Chara (ankle), Darlington Nagbe (shoulder), Norberto Paparatto (calf). Alvas Powell is away on Gold Cup duty with Jamaica.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union last five in MLS: W/L/L/W/D

Portland Timbers last five in MLS: W/W/L/W/W

Key Stat: Philadelphia Union have never beaten Portland Timbers in the five meetings between the two.

Key Player: Fanendo Adi – The Nigerian is Portland’s top scorer on eight. the Union will need to stop his attacking threats.

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Score Prediction:

Philadelphia Union 1-2 Portland Timbers – History suggests Portland Timbers will come out on top, they haven’t lost to the Union and with their rich vein of form you can’t bet against them. A close encounter but it looks like it could be a win for the away side.

MLS Preview and prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Montreal Impact

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Montreal Impact

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, June 27 – 19:00 ET (0:00 BST)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 1/1 – Draw 5/2 – Montreal Impact 13/5

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union welcome Montreal Impact to PPL Park this weekend looking to win a second match in four days, while Montreal will be looking to get back to winning ways after their defeat at Toronto on Wednesday night.

The Union are full of confidence after their 1-0 home win over Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders on Wednesday as a solitary CJ Sapong goal earned them a valuable three points.

Sapong has been in free goalscoring form as of late, netting four goals in his last four appearances. He is the main threat in front of goal for the Union right now and all the focus is on him. 

Philadelphia have won four from nine MLS matches at PPL Park this season, with the Columbus Crew, Seattle Sounders and DC United all beaten in Philadelphia.

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There are just two points separating the Union from a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference at the midpoint of the season and they will look to take three from a Montreal Impact side who have been relatively poor away from home this term.

The Impact have played five games less than the Union but they are sat just one point behind them in the Eastern. Their CONCACAF Champions League campaign has left them trailing behind the in terms of games played and so they have a lot to play for.

The Impact have only won once on the road this season with a 2-1 victory at the Columbus Crew earlier this month in what was an incredible result and one that many probably didn’t expect to happen.

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Montreal have never won at PPL Park so a victory here would be their first in five attempts and would see them climb above the hosts on Saturday night.

Team News

Philadelphia Union have doubts over Sebastien Le Toux (knee), Michael Lahoud (thigh), Fernando Aristeguieta (leg) and Conor Casey (thigh) but Steven Vitoria is ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Montreal impact have plenty of injury concerns with Adrian Lopez (knee), Justin Mapp (elbow), Cameron Porter (knee) and Kenny Cooper (knee) all out. Doubts hang over Hassoun Camara (knee) and Eric Miller (hamstring).

Key Points

Philadelphia Union last five: L/W/L/L/W

Montreal Impact last five: W/W/L/W/L

Key Stat – Montreal Impact have only scored four goals from seven games away from home this season.

Key Player: CJ Sapong – The young American has six goals this season, with four in his last four. He is in great form and will be a huge threat to a Montreal Impact side who struggle for victories on the road.

Photo courtesy of MLSsoccer.com

Photo courtesy of MLSsoccer.com

Score Prediction 

Philadelphia Union 2-0 Montreal Impact – Although both teams have played midweek, Philadelphia are at home and haven’t had to travel during the week. Home comforts set the tone for this one as the Union should record back-to-back wins for the second time this year.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. DC United

Venue: PPL Park – Sunday, May 17th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST – Monday, May 18th)

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 7/5 – Draw 23/10 – DC United 19/10

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union take on DC United at PPL Park on Sunday evening in an MLS clash between two sides at opposite ends of the Eastern Conference.

The Union have statistically been the worst side in MLS this season, other than Montreal Impact, as they sit one place above the bottom of both the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.

Jim Curtin‘s side have also conceded more goals (21) than any other team – that’s seven more than the next worst defence, which is Houston who have let in 14.

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Philadelphia’s most recent outing saw them comfortably swept aside in a 3-0 defeat away at the Vancouver Whitecaps, extending their run of consecutive defeats to four games – the Union have won just one of their opening 11 games (D3, L7).

The only points the Union have picked up in the last nine games came courtesy of a win and a draw in back-to-back games against fellow strugglers New York City.

By stark contrast, DC United’s start to the season has been excellent as six wins, three draws and one defeat from their opening ten games is enough to see them at the top of the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings.

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Ben Olsen will be delighted with how efficient the performances of his DC team have been, conceding fewer goals (8) than any other side so far, and they’re now unbeaten in their last eight games (W5, D3) with the most recent success a 2-1 victory at home to Orlando City last weekend.

Chris Rolfe has led the line well with three goals and three assists, but the key to DC’s success so far has been the overall team ethos as nine different players have already contributed to the 13 goals they’ve scored this season, showing that the load has been shared equally.

DC United won both of the games between these two sides in 2014 by a 1-0 scoreline. Philadelphia’s most recent victory over DC was a 2-0 win back in August 2013.

Team News

Philadelphia Union are suffering with a very long list of absentees which only adds to their ongoing problems. Rookie Richie Marquez will miss the game through suspension following his red card against Vancouver. Steven Vitoria is struggling with a knee injury and loanee goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre is likely to deputise in goal once again as John McCarthy continues his recovery from concussion. Fernando Aristeguieta (international duty), Andre Blake (knee) and Mike Lahoud (leg) are all unavailable, while C. J. Sapong remains out for non-footballing reasons. Antoine Hoppenot (hamstring) and Fred (hamstring) are also doubts.

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DC United will be without the injured Steve Birnbaum, Collin Martin and Markus Halsti. Forward Fabian Espindola missed the Orlando game with a slight knee problem but could return to the squad for this clash.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s last five: D/L/L/L/L

DC United’s last five: D/W/W/D/W

Key Stat: Philadelphia Union have won just two of their last 18 games in MLS (D6, L10) combining the end of the 2014 with start of the 2015 season.

Key Player: Perry Kitchen – The 23-year-old hasn’t missed a single minute of the MLS season so far and has been a vital component in the DC United machine at the heart of the midfield. His performances are one of the reasons that DC have been so hard to break down.

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Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 0-1 DC United – DC United will expect to win this one against a Philadelphia side that are struggling at the moment with both casualties and form. It’s tough to see any other outcome than a DC victory.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, May 2nd – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST – Live on Sky Sports)

Match Odds: Philadelphia 5/4 – Draw 12/5 – Toronto 21/10

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union host Toronto FC on Saturday night in an intriguing Eastern Conference clash with both sides looking to climb the table after slow starts.

The Union have only won once this season, in a 2-1 home victory against New York City FC, and come into Saturday’s game off back-to-back defeats.

Jim Curtin’s side were thumped 4-1 at Columbus Crew last Saturday and need to try and find some form to prevent them from falling too far behind the pack in the hunt for playoff football.

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They’re level with Saturday’s opponents, Toronto, on six points after eight weeks and both will see this as a winnable game.

The Reds picked up just their second win of the season at Orlando City last weekend to end a four-game losing streak and the trip to PPL Park will be the last of their seven-game away run to open the campaign.

They will play at BMO Field for the first time this season next week but need to focus on this game first against a Philadelphia team that has the worst defensive record in MLS.

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Toronto have attacking stars such as Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco to unleash on that leaky Union defence that has conceded 17 times in nine games, and that will be a concern for Philadelphia supporters.

One thing to note is that Toronto have never won at PPL Park in MLS. The Union have won the last three meetings, including both last season, without conceding a goal.

Team News

Philadelphia could be without five players. Eric Bird (hernia) remains out, while Antoine Hoppenot (hamstring), Fernando Aristeguieta (thigh), Vincent Nogueira (ankle) and Steven Vitoria (groin) are all doubtful. Maurice Edu is likely to start in defence again but he will need to be careful as he is one booking away from suspension.

Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney will be without Clement Simonin (knee), while Steven Caldwell (achilles) and Mark Bloom (thigh) remain doubts. Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco are starting to gel together and both will start in attack again for the Reds on Saturday night.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s last five: L/W/D/L/L

Toronto FC’s last five: L/L/L/L/W

Key Stat: Toronto have not beaten Philadelphia in their last seven meetings, losing the last three on the bounce without scoring a goal.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – The Italian playmaker is starting to look like the superstar Toronto hoped they had signed. He has three goals and three assists in six appearances so far and will be a real threat for the Union to deal with.

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Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 1-3 Toronto FC – Toronto to snap that seven-game winless run against the Union with a convincing performance and victory. Philadelphia have looked extremely vulnerable this season and their defensive frailties will be exploited by a dangerous Reds attack.

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.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Philadelphia Union vs FC Dallas

Competition: Major League Soccer – Philadelphia Union vs FC Dallas

Venue: PPL Park – Saturday, March 21 – 16:00 ET (20:00 GMT )

Match Odds: Philadelphia Union 23/20 – Draw 23/10 – FC Dallas 12/5

Match Preview

Philadelphia Union take on FC Dallas at PPL Park on Saturday in gameweek three of the 2015 MLS season. 

The game was originally scheduled for Friday evening but was postponed due to snow, so will now be played on Saturday instead.

Philadelphia Union have drawn their first two games, although only a late Alvaro Saborio penalty narrowly denied the Union of their first win of the 2015 campaign in last weekend’s trip to Real Salt Lake, which ended 3-3 after a pulsating game.

FC Dallas are currently top of the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings and as the only team that has won their first two games of the 2015 season, they will be full of confidence.

Philadelphia Head Coach Jim Curtin will probably see last weekend’s draw with RSL as a more positive result than the opening day 0-0 draw with the Colorado Rapids, but this game should be the toughest test so far and will provide a good marker of where the Union currently are.

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FC Dallas are a strong side, so if Philadelphia can secure all three points then it shows that they need to be taken seriously, although the Union haven’t won any of their last four home games in MLS, so they’ll need to break that trend.

Dallas edged a 1-0 victory on the first day of the season thanks to an injury time winner from Blas Perez against San Jose Earthquakes and then sealed an impressive 3-1 win over Sporting Kansas City at the Toyota Stadium last time out.

The trip to PPL Park will mark the first game on the road for head coach Oscar Pareja and his Dallas side who will be looking to continue their 100% winning record in 2015 by making it three out of three.

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Philadelphia have never beaten Dallas in eight attempts in all competitions (D5, L3), so they will be making history if they can secure a win on Friday night.

The last game between these two sides was a 1-1 draw in the US Open Cup in August 2014. FC Dallas came out on top in the last MLS clash with a 2-1 win in July 2014.

Despite the home advantage, Philadelphia Union will probably be seen as slight underdogs against a Dallas side that have made an extremely impressive start to the new campaign.

Team News

Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake is out with a knee injury and forward C. J. Sapong is also unlikely to feature as he has a fractured cheekbone. Midfielder Danny Cruz is suffering with a hamstring strain and missed the game with Real Salt Lake, so he may not be available.

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FC Dallas will be without defender Stephen Keel who is out with a foot injury. Dallas are likely to remain unchanged from the lineup that beat SKC last weekend.

Key Points

Philadelphia Union’s form: D/D

FC Dallas’s form: W/W 

Key Stat: There have been four red cards in seven MLS meetings between these two sides, so we could be in for a feisty encounter.

Key Player: Blas Perez – The experienced forward has notched three goals in his first two games of the 2015 season and he’s hit the ground running. Philadelphia have got a job on their hands to stop the 34-year-old.

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Score Prediction

Philadelphia Union 1-2 FC Dallas – FC Dallas have enjoyed the perfect start to the season and Philadelphia will make life difficult for them, but the visitors should just about edge this one.

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.