Preview: Union to Face Celtic at PPL Park

Philadelphia host first international guests on Wednesday at PPL Park

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Photo Credit: 
(Getty Images)

The basics

  • Philadelphia Union vs. Celtic FC
  • Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET at PPL Park
  • Game A in Union season ticket packages
  • Match not televised

 

What’s at Stake

The Union will welcome their first of two big-name European clubs to Philadelphia on Wednesday when 42-time Scottish champions Celtic will grace PPL Park. Last year’s SPL runners-up, Celtic have a storied history that dates all the way back to 1888 and their visit to the City of Brotherly Love is certainly a big occasion for all involved.

Heroes & Villains

Peter Nowak vs. Neil Lennon: The opposing bosses will go head-to-head on Wednesday to see whose team will prevail in this intriguing friendly encounter. Coincidentally, both managers are similar in their styles as no glitz, all glory types. A legend at Celtic in the early part of the new millennium, Lennon gained the reputation for being a straight-to-work kind of defensive midfielder, something Nowak also exhibited in his playing days. It’ll be interesting to see who has the tactical edge in what should be a very hard-fought, determined exhibition.

Danny Califf vs. Georgios Samaras: Provided he starts the match, the lanky Greek forward will be quite a handful for Califf coming forward. Not the fastest player, Samaras has enjoyed a good spell of success with the Scottish club since joining them back in 2008. Union captain Califf will need to have his wits about him in keeping the tricky striker off the board. If he’s able to do so, it’ll go a long way in shutting down the Celtic attack.

Stefani Miglioranzi vs. Scott Brown: Celtic’s player of the season last year, Brown has been tremendous in the middle of the park for his club. Keeping him in check will most likely be Stefani Miglioranzi, who knows a thing or two about shutting down the opposing team’s top midfield man. Should be a fun battle to watch.

Tactics

Philadelphia: Knowing manager Peter Nowak, you know the Union are going to come out swinging. Playing against superior talent, the Polish manager will want to test his team’s abilities and will more than likely tell them to push forward from the get-go to see how the visitors react. If they get an early goal, he may want to try for a quick second or pull off and see how his boys defend. Either way, it’ll be entertaining.

Celtic: For the Hoops, chances are they’ll be OK with relinquishing possession early to see how good the Union really are, almost tempting the home side to try and beat them. After seeing what they’re up against, Lennon will have his men probe a bit to try and catch the Union napping.

He Said It

“We know what’s in front of us in terms of how important these home matches are in MLS. The Celtic match and the Man U match are just as important to us. We want to win. Even more important than that, we want to keep improving. I feel very, very lucky and fortunate to be able to play in these types of games during our expansion season. It’s only going to help us.” – Union fullback Jordan Harvey

Prediction

This will likely be an almost too tight friendly affair, with both teams really going at it to get the win. Lennon is out to prove himself as manager of the club, and getting things going in the right direction will be important. For the Union, they want to rebound from their shocking 2-1 defeat at the hands of the San Jose Earthquakes, and beating a massive club like Celtic would certainly help. There should be some scoring, but it’s a match that could end 2-2.