Philadelphia Union vs Orlando City preview: Union looking to bolster playoff hopes
Philadelphia Union vs Orlando City preview: Union looking to bolster playoff hopes

Chester, PA - On Sunday, Philadelphia Union returns home for the first time in nearly a month to Talen Energy Stadium to take on Orlando City SC. Kickoff for Sunday’s MLS Eastern Conference matchup is scheduled for 3 PM EST (TV: The Comcast Network, TV27 anding at MLS LIVE).

All Eastern Conference games will start at 3 PM EST on Sunday, which will likely produce drama throughout the full 90 minutes.

Orlando comes into Sunday’s match after being eliminated from playoff contention in their October 2nd loss to Montreal Impact, 1-0. With two games left in their season, Orlando sits in ninth place with 35 points in 32 games. However, despite being eliminated from the playoffs, Orlando still has a plethora of talent.

Players to watch for Orlando City SC

Orlando midfielder Kaka is still a top talent in the league and will be a handful for Philadelphia’s backline. To add, Cyle Larin will add a physical, goalscoring presence that will add to Philadelphia’s challenge. In the past, Philadelphia’s backline have had trouble with big physical strikers such as Toronto’s Jozy Altidore. With Josh Yaro still questionable on Sunday with a concussion, Ken Tribbett will be in line to make the start.

Playoff positioning on the line for the Philadelphia Union

On the home side of the pitch, Philadelphia has an opportunity to clinch their second playoff appearance in their history. With a win on Sunday plus New England Revolution loss to Chicago Fire, Philadelphia would lock in a spot in the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs.

Since June 18th, Philadelphia has only won five matches and lost nine matches out of 18, while only earning 19 points in that stretch. In comparison, the Union won six of their first 14 matches and only lost three times, while earning 23 points.

Players to watch for the Philadelphia Union

There are a couple players to watch for the Union. One such player is CJ Sapong. Sapong has not scored a goal since August 13th in Philadelphia’s 4-0 win over the Revolution. While goals are not the only way to measure a striker’s success, Sapong has struggled to make an impact with his physicality and knack for drawing fouls. If Philadelphia has any desire to stick around long in the MLS Cup Playoffs, Sapong has to get going and needs to get on the scoresheet.

Maurice Edu is a player to watch | Source: Derik Hamilton - USA TODAY Sports
Maurice Edu is a player to watch | Source: Derik Hamilton - USA TODAY Sports

Another player to watch is Maurice Edu. Edu has not played this season, despite being in the 18 a few times recently, as he has been recovering from a Tibia stress fracture from last season. There would be no better time for the United States International to make his debut than on Sunday in a big, possible playoff-clinching game. He will bring a calming presence in the holding midfield that has seen a lot of turnover since the loss of Vincent Nogueira back in June.

In the end, Philadelphia has control of their playoff destiny. With a win, they are all but assured a spot in the playoffs, a place this team has not been in five years. Despite recent struggles during the second half of the season, Jim Curtin will have his side ready to go in what could be the most important game of the season for his squad.