Philadelphia Union is counting down the days until their Eastern Conference Semifinal against FC Cincinnati, set to take place on November 25th at TQL stadium, the home of this year’s Supporter’s Shield winners.
Like many Major League Soccer teams, Philadelphia is missing their typical depth in training during the lengthy international break as seven players were called up to represent their respective national teams. Despite missing pieces, the contingent that remained stateside is diligently preparing for the test to come, including the team’s leading goal scorer Julían Carranza, who made his return to full training on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury.
“Feeling good, good to be back with the guys for normal training. It's been a long time. I missed it. So, I’m happy to be here,” Carranza said.
The 23-year-old Argentine picked up the injury in the first match of the playoffs, leaving the field in the 62nd minute to be replaced by homegrown Quinn Sullivan, who in turn earned his first-ever postseason appearance. Though there was 10 days’ rest between the first and second contest of the series against New England, his injury persisted, leaving him out from the travel party to Gillette Stadium.
“When I did an MRI it came out that I was injured. So, I took the time that I needed to recover and thankfully the guys did a good job in New England and we pass to the semifinal,” Carranza said.
“I'm good now, I'm back, and I'm happy to be outside.”
In his absence, the team won 1-0, securing their spot in the semifinal round with a 79th minute goal from 23-year-old Conestoga High School and Drexel University graduate Chris Donovan, who came off the bench just over midway through the second half. On Wednesday, Carranza had high praise for his younger counterparts who helped close the series when called upon, reflecting on their play throughout the recent playoff push.
“They always do it when they have the opportunity to do it. I think Quinn did a good job in Nashville too back at the time – whoever needs to step out in the field, they do the best way possible, and then we're happy for that because we need every single player,” Carranza said.
“So happy for them. I’m happy for Chris that he scored the goal. When they need to play, they do it at their best.”
Next up, the team will travel to Cincinnati for a Saturday night showdown against the league’s 2023 Supporters’ Shield winners, who handily finished first in the Eastern Conference after claiming 20 regular season wins and just five losses. FC Cincinnati most recently defeated New York Red Bulls twice in their best-of-three series, securing their spot in the semifinal round with a shootout win on the road. Their opponent’s recent dominance aside, Carranza expressed the team’s confidence heading into their upcoming win-or-go-home matchup.
“We're pretty confident since the last time that we played at home against them. It was a pretty good game for us. We committed a couple mistakes and they tied the game. But I think that we're pretty confident and then we believe that we have good chances to win that game and go to a final again.”