The best reason to watch Philadelphia Union face off with Orlando City SC is simple: There are few better opportunities to see two clubs with polar opposite build strategies show off the state of their progress.
Build it vs buy it
The Union will start an entire defense consisting of SuperDraft picks, homegrown players, and potentially Fabinho. In contrast, Orlando City will just try to cobble together anything loosely resembling a back line and goalie.
The Purple Lions still don’t have anything like a clear starting midfield, with new signing Carlos Ascues joining Cristian Higuita, Yoshi Yotun, Will Johnson and Uri Rosell as deeper options while Sacha Kljestan provides creativity. Meanwhile, Philly has a clear first three in the center and has gotten strong support from Warren Creavalle and Derrick Jones as well.
Up top, Orlando spent so much MLS funny money on Dom Dwyer that it makes the Union’s investment in David Accam seem small by comparison. Dwyer is certainly a wonderful MLS striker, but the Union have sat out the striker sweepstakes and struck gold with Cory Burke during the second half of 2018.
So when you watch the Union, you’re seeing the present and future together, while watching Orlando City is a bit like scrolling through the roster of a MLS team in FIFA when you’ve played three years into the future in Career Mode.
Dwyer vs Union defense
Regardless of the team’s form, there is always the potential for Dom Dwyer to put together a create a moment of magic. That is Philly’s big fear this weekend, and they will need to keep eyes on Orlando’s dangerous front man throughout the match. Dwyer has scored in three of his past four matches, and his ability to roll off of defenders’ shoulders makes him a constant threat.
Philly won’t want to rely on Andre Blake as heavily as they did against New England, so tracking Dwyer will be a key. Last time these squads faced off, Mark McKenzie was instrumental in shutting down the England-born striker, so Jack Elliott will need to study the tape of his teammate’s work.
Hit the break on a high
This is the last chance to catch the Union in action until September 14, so don’t miss the club on one of their best rolls in recent seasons. Winning in Orlando would set the Union up for a massive showdown against Montreal in two weeks.
After Montreal, the Union enter a breathless stretch that includes games at Seattle, against Sporting Kansas City, and at Houston in the US Open Cup final. Oh, and showdowns with the New York and New Jersey teams await at the end of the year.
So tune in on September 1 at 7:30PM EST to see how the Union take the final turn before entering the home stretch of the 2018 season.