New York City vs. Philadelphia Union Match Analysis & Predictions
New York City (18-11-7, 55 points, 3rd place Eastern Conference) vs. Philadelphia Union (20-5-10, 67 points, 1st place Eastern Conference)
When: Sunday, October 30, 8 p.m.
Where: Subaru Park, Chester, Pa.
Point Spread: NYCFC +0.5/Philadelphia -0.5
Moneyline: NYCFC +300/Philadelphia -110/Draw +255
Team to advance: NYCFC +175/Philadelphia -215
Total: Over 2.5 (-120)/Under 2.5 (+100)
Last Time Out:
New York City handled Montreal 3-1; Philadelphia edged Cincinnati 1-0.
Philadelphia defeated New York City 2-1 on June 26 at Subaru Park.
About the Matchup:
So same time next year for these teams, as we’ve got a rematch of the Eastern Conference final from a season ago. And once again, these teams have followed the same paths to get to this game. Last season, New York City upset top seed New England in the semifinals, then took out Philadelphia on its way to claiming its first MLS Cup title. This year, the Pigeons once again took out a favored team in the conference semifinals as they blitzed second-seed Montreal to get their rematch with Philly.
For the Union, it’s yet another chance to finally bring a title to a franchise that has long lived in the shadow of Seattle. The Sounders came into MLS a year before the Union (2009 to Philadelphia’s 2010), leading the two teams to often get compared to each other in terms of how they’ve built their clubs. But while the Union have been the tortoise, the Sounders have been the hare — if the hare had actually bothered to finish the race. While their expansion cousins have claimed four U.S. Open Cups and two MLS crowns, the Union have flamed out in the playoffs time after time. In 2020, they finally won the Supporter’s Shield with MLS’ best record, only to instantly fall to New England in the MLS playoffs. In 2021, they got to host the Eastern final, but New York City stopped them cold. Can they finally break through here?
Scouting New York City:
The big question for the Pigeons is how effective Maxi Moralez will be, because when he is on his game, NYCFC is very difficult to play against. Last time out, he made it clear he was on from the opening whistle, as he scored six minutes into the match with Montreal.
Statistically, that game should not have worked out for the Pigeons, who managed just five shots on net and had just 36% of the possession, but Moralez doesn’t need more than one good touch of the ball to make something happen. He’s the kind of player who can win a playoff match by himself with a little bit of magic, and if Philadelphia loses him, they’re going to suffer more heartbreak.
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NYCFC has to watch out for the early goal. There are two reasons for that. First, Philadelphia loves to get the jump on teams by getting a goal in the first half-hour. That was how the Union bested the Pigeons in both meetings, as Philadelphia led NYCFC 1-0 within 15 minutes on both occasions that the teams faced off this year.
Second, the Union are outstanding defensively and love to frustrate teams when they can play with the lead. Out of 35 matches, only Toronto managed to fall behind Philadelphia and come back to win the match in 2022, one of just two matches all year in which the Union found the net and didn’t leave with at least a point. Daniel Gazdag has been outstanding with the attack down the stretch, and he’s an excellent bet to find the net at least once if you’re looking for a player prop. The Hungarian scored in seven straight regular season matches at Subaru Park, and the playoff win over Cincinnati marked the first time since July 8 that the Union played at home and Gazdag didn’t score.
Dan’s Best Bets:
The first 15 minutes are critical for Philadelphia. The Union needs to get off to a good start in order to put aside any fears of the past two years repeating, and that’s how they want to play this out anyway. Because of that, I’d take Philadelphia to score in the first 30 minutes at +240. I think the Union know they need a hot start badly because of how little NYCFC needs to create a chance, so I think they come out firing.
I also don’t think there will be a lot of chances here, as both of these sides are solid defensive outfits. The Union haven’t allowed more than a goal at home all season, and there aren’t likely to be a lot of great attacks against their back line. Philly and under 3.5 goals at +165 offers strong value. If you just want to get a win, grabbing the under looks like a good move, especially at even money.
Dan’s Score Prediction:
It feels like this is finally the Union’s time. This could easily collapse, which is why the under is the safest play on the board. However, I think the lessons of the past two years will pay off for Philadelphia and result in their first trip to MLS Cup.
I’ll take the Union to hold the line at 2-0 at +825.