Philadelphia Union’s widely-anticipated match against LAFC on Saturday is shaping up to be a night of must-see TV, and it’s all going down at 7:30 pm at Subaru Park! Tune in free on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV to watch two top teams battle in Philly’s fortress.
This weekend’s contest will be a familiar showdown, as it will be the pair’s third meeting since their fierce battle in the 2022 MLS Cup.
The last time fixture of the club's newly formed rivalry was in the Semifinal round of the Concacaf Champions Cup tournament, which finished in unfavorable fashion for Philadelphia. The first match ended in 1-1 draw, but in the second, defender Olivier Mbaizo earned a 59th minute red card that left the team down a man for much of the second half. LAFC’s Timothy Tillman, Kwadwo Opoku, and Denis Bounga each contributed a goal in that game, leading the team to a win.
Now in the regular season, LAFC sits near the top of the Western Conference table in third place with 29 points in 2023. Head Coach Steve Cherundolo's squad has only claimed three wins on the road and they haven't played a regular season match at Subaru Park since 2019.
The matchup is set to be a test for both teams, as both are facing similar stretches of near-constant play. For Philadelphia, the match falls around the midpoint of a three week seven game slate, and for LAFC, the cross-country trip is sandwiched between a battle against St. Louis and a 2023 Campeones Cup match against Tigres.
“It would have been nice to have a week-long build up for both teams, to be fresh going into this game, to have everybody fully healthy. But it's at that point of the year where everybody's dealing with schedule congestion, for sure. It will be a test of the teams’ depth, fitness, health – whatever you want to call it,” Head Coach Jim Curtin said.
With just a few days of recovery in between each matchup, Curtin expressed that his team will be strategic in maintaining player health when deciding the personnel for Saturday’s match.
Starting midfielder José Martinez and defender Jakob Glesnes are both day-to-day; Martinez exited the team’s midweek matchup against Charlotte due to a bone bruise and Glesnes, who recently became the second field player in MLS history to start 100 consecutive matches, is showing early signs of a sports hernia, likely due to the mounting number of minutes he's spent on the pitch.
Whichever group Curtin selects to defend the home field, they’ll know to be wary of Dénis Bouanga's dangerous foot. The opponent’s 28-year-old Designated Player currently sits tied for second in the league’s Golden Boot race with 14 goals, and he’s been The Black and Gold’s most consistent attacking weapon, with Carlos Vela a close second with nine goals and 10 assists.
Philadelphia’s Daniel Gazdag sits right below Bounga with 13 goals, thanks to his 10th successful penalty kick of the year against Charlotte on Wednesday.
Tune in with MLS Season Pass on Apple TV to watch the team’s battle for three points in Philadelphia.