Philadelphia Union have made an unbeaten start to their MLS season and they can continue that form on Saturday in the weekend’s big MLS tie.
Who do Bettors Favor?
MLS fans taking a look at the best sportsbook sites will see NYCFC, who will be playing their first home game of the MLS season, are the big favourites for this fixture, rated at around 1.60 by most sportsbooks. The draw is generally priced up around 4.00 while Philadelphia are seen as big underdogs at 5.00 ahead of this rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference final.
Assessing the Head to Head Record
NYCFC was a latecomer to Major League Soccer, so these two local rivals haven’t had as many head-to-head meetings as some of their Eastern Conference counterparts, but NYCFC have had the better of the fixture.
The New York side has won 10 of the 17 games between the two clubs, while Philadelphia has won five. Two games finished level.
NYCFC has also won five of their past eight games, the most crucial of which occurred in the Eastern Conference Final in December. Union took the lead just after the hour mark, but NYCFC came back to win 2-1 with two goals from Maxi Moralez and Talles Magno.
NYCFC Pick Up a Win
The reigning champs are off to a rocky start in Major League Soccer, albeit their schedule hasn’t helped them. Although the team were permitted to play their home CONCACAF Champions League game in Los Angeles, starting their regular season with a west coast swing was not ideal.
Their opening-day loss to Galaxy was followed by a disheartening draw with Vancouver, but following a victorious Champions League quarter-final victory at home against Comunicaciones, they eventually got their first MLS win, scoring four goals in a good victory against Montreal.
After finishing second in the East last season, ahead of NYCFC, Philadelphia was defeated in the Conference final by their New York rivals but will be aiming to do better this season.
Unlike their opponents on Saturday, they’ve had a pretty easy start to the season, with home games against Minnesota and San Jose, as well as a trip to Montreal, for a total of seven points. The only negative so far is that neither of their big offensive additions, Mikael Uhre or Julian Carranza, have made an impact, with Carranza being sent off in their second game, against Montreal.
MLS Big Game Team Update
The lone long-term absence for the reigning champions is Anton Tinnerholm, who has been sidelined since October with a damaged Achilles tendon. Coach Ronny Deila may have to shuffle his lineup for this game because of the trip to Guatemala City in the middle of the week.
Julian Carranza will be available for Philadelphia after serving his one-game suspension for the red card against Montreal, thus Jim Curtin will have a complete roster to choose from, which means deciding whether to start Carranza, Uhre, or both.
Betting on NYCFC versus Philadelphia
This NYCFC squad is quite similar to the one that won the MLS Cup last season, and the fact that crucial striker Valentin Castellanos has been retained suggests that they should be just as successful in 2022, while Thiago Martins is a great center-back acquisition. Philadelphia also fared well in the offseason as well, and both teams will be focused on going deep into the playoffs.
We shouldn’t reach any conclusions based on the point differential after three games. Yes, Philadelphia is unbeaten, but they have had relatively easy opponents so far, while NYCFC has had to travel to two excellent Western Conference clubs as well as play four Champions League games.
Even for a huge club like NYCFC, those added early-season obligations will work against them, with many players not yet up to full fitness in the early weeks of the season, putting a significant strain on squad depth. Union has been able to play one game every week against the middling competition so far this season, but Saturday’s opponents have been on the road again this week, with just four days between their Guatemala match and this encounter.
That extra burden might negate most of NYCFC’s home advantage, and although Philadelphia’s dismal road record makes them difficult to pick as a winner here, I believe they can get a point. With weariness a concern for the home team and goalscoring a problem for the visitors, a low-scoring game might also be on the cards in this rematch of an intriguing Eastern Conference rivalry.