Philadelphia Union: Previewing upcoming matchup against Real Salt Lake

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Coming off a big road win, the Philadelphia Union have a lot to play for as they return to Chester for their home match against Real Salt Lake.

The Ins and Outs

Philadelphia Union (3-2-5) VS Orlando City SC (4-1-5)

When: Friday at 7:30 PM Eastern – Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, PA)

Where to Watch: PHL17

PRO Referees: Head- Chico Grajeda, AR1- Corey Parker, AR2 – Cory Richardson, 4th – Jose Carlos Rivero, VAR- Jorge Gonzalez

Coaches: Jim Curtin (Philadelphia Union) – Mike Petke (Real Salt Lake)

Build Momentum

It has been almost a year to the date since their last road for the Philadelphia Union. A 2-0 victory in Montreal has the team riding high, but they have many question marks heading into this game. A red card ruled out Cory Burke, and CJ Sapong will likely not be ready for any minutes, let alone to play as a starter. The road win is a big coup for Jim Curtin’s side, but it will not mean anything if they lose at home to Real Salt Lake. They must use the momentum from this big win to get a win at home, some more points on the road and push for a playoff spot.

The Lineups

Cory Burke was a breath of fresh air up top. With the injury to CJ Sapong and an early second goal, the Jamaican seemed set to get a few more starts. A moment of madness and he sits out the upcoming game due to a red card. With CJ Sapong likely out as well the managerial staff has a predicament ahead of them. Next in line is Jay Simpson, but the English striker has been noticeably silent in his time in Chester. Curtin’s press conference points to either Fafa Picault or David Accam moving from the wing to the center forward position. Both are adept attackers, but neither is the back to goal player the side is looking for. That said both have abilities in front of goal and could really push the team in the game.

Whichever player does not get the start up top will likely get the start at left wing. This leaves an interesting question at right wing, with both Ilsinho and Marcus Epps having promising games in recent weeks. Fabian Herbers seems less likely but is coming off a hot play for Bethlehem Steel. Alejandro Bedoya could also play right wing, but this seems unlikely. The other questions are at left back where Ray Gaddis was uncharacteristically attacking in the last game, but Fabinho is still likely the favored left back if fit. Finally, center back is interesting with the emergence of Mark McKenzie, the homegrown who could continue to be in a fight with Jack Elliott to start alongside Auston Trusty.

Keys to the Game

Jim Curtin has said that every player on the Union roster must play perfectly to win some games. They did that against Montreal, and likely must do that against a strong Salt Lake side. They need to finish off their chances and put less pressure on a very young defensive side. The attackers need to keep the ball, be clinical and push for goals.

Next: Previewing upcoming matchup against Montreal Impact

Player to Watch: Fafa Picault

Fafa Picault is the more likely of the two wingers to start up top in the game, and as such is the player to watch this Saturday. While he has performed from the position before, he also has had his inability to finish put on display in various games. He could change the nature of this squad with a strong performance this weekend, making the three-headed attack of the Union more potent moving forward.