The end of Philadelphia Union’s 2018 MLS season is here, and with 90 minutes left to play the boys in blue could still finish anywhere from third to sixth in the Eastern Conference. A season stretching from March to October and everything comes down to this final match against New York City FC.
This is the big, flashing-neon reason to watch on Sunday. Depending on the outcomes of their own game and others, Philly could end up facing any of four different opponents in the knockout round of the MLS Cup playoffs, and they could either host a match or travel.
If the Union smack down NYCFC as they did in August, they will finish in third place in the east and host DC United, Columbus Crew, or Montreal Impact. If Philly loses or ties… well, things get crazy. Philly could end up right back in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday or Thursday if they fall to NYC, leading to the odd scenario of facing the same team twice in four days.
One thing seems to be clear: Nobody really wants to face the Union. Despite last Sunday’s VAR-driven loss to New York Red Bulls, Philly is one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, and of the clubs competing for a spot in the knockout round they are the only one that has shown they can be dangerous on the road in the second half of the season.
The only way to see how everything will shake out is to play the games, and that’s why you need to tune in on Sunday at 4:30PM ET.
Big names in the Big Apple
NYCFC has been in a tailspin for a while now, but their stuttering play may be aided by the return of several big names to the lineup on Sunday. David Villa finally looks like his old self after an extended injury absence, and both Maxi Moralez and Yangel Herrera could return to the starting eleven this weekend.
Those three players, along with Alex Ring, form the elite core of NYC’s success. Herrera provides freedom for the others, and Villa is a finisher par excellence. Between them, Ring and Moralez are top tier workers (Ring) and creators (Moralez), so despite NYC’s recent struggles the City Group-owned club could be ready to break out.
Another reason to watch on Sunday? Borek Dockal will be vying for the Major League Soccer assists title as the season winds down. Currently, the Czech maestro is even with Luciano Acosta of DC United on 17 assists. Acosta faces Chicago Fire on the road at the same time Dockal takes on NYC. Both players have had very strong back halves of the season to track down Kaku and Moralez, who led the way for much of the season.
Can Dockal become the first Union player to lead the league in a major offensive category?
It all plays out this Sunday in Yankee Stadium, so don’t miss a moment.