Philadelphia Union have been one of the best teams in MLS for over three seasons now, and the biggest compliment the league has paid the organization is to turn FC Cincinnati into a midwest version of Philly’s finest.

Under the guidance of Chris Albright and head coach Pat Noonan, Cincy has become a tough, battling squad that can hit top gear at any moment. Nothing speaks to that toughness more than their four road wins, which is the second-most in all of MLS.

“They are very organized, they create as many chances as any team in our league and you can see just how hard the players work,” Jim Curtin said of the Ohio side in his midweek presser.

Those chances largely flow through Luciano Acosta. The tiny playmaker has re-emerged as one of the most dynamic creators in MLS under Noonan’s guidance and sits alongside Philly’s Daniel Gazdag, Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar, and NYC’s Valentin Castellanos atop the list of Expected Goals + Expected Assists this season. That means that Acosta, without a star striker in front of him, is doing a heck of a lot of offensive work.

Next Home Game

Next Home Game

Philadelphia Union returns to Subaru Park on June 18th as they host FC Cincinnati on Saturday, June 18th. Don't miss out on the energy of the crowd as they cheer on the Boys in Blue!

Gazdag, of course, has become the Union’s answer to: How does a creative genius fit into a side that rarely holds possession? The Hungarian’s creativity emerges in transition, where he has proven adept at discovering spaces for an outlet or second ball, and then identifying gaps in a retreating defense to follow up direct play from the strikers. While Gazdag’s assists and key passes — passes that create a shot, though not necessarily a goal — can’t compare to Acosta’s, he’s involved early in transition and, importantly, gets into the box to finish plays himself.

The key for the Union will be disrupting Cincy early in their buildup and shaking their defense’s confidence. With Julian Carranza and a healthy Mikael Uhre available, Curtin can threaten the visitors with speed and guile, potentially stretching their shape and making it difficult to find Acosta in dangerous spots. This high pressure will put a lot on the shoulders of the Union’s No. 8s, Ale Bedoya and Leon Flach. They have to pick the right places to press and avoid leaving Jose Martinez alone against Acosta in space.

One additional issue for Philly is a potential lack of depth. Curtin praised the work Matt Real, Cole Turner, and Jesus Bueno have put in during training, but the absence of Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan, and Brandan Craig while they play for the US U-20 national team leaves the Union head coach short on options if he needs to tweak his approach through personnel during the match.

Philly and Cincy face off at 7:30 p.m. ET at Subaru Park on Saturday, June 18. Get your tickets now or tune in on PHL17

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Every match matters! In 2022, you do not want to miss your favorite matchups as the Union take on the best MLS has to offer! When we score, make sure you are there to get Subaru Park shaking!

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For U Kit Now Available

The For U kit pays homage to the early days of the Union and was designed with the help of the fan-based Creators’ Collective to feature details reflective of the city and its fans.