Two teams traveling in completely opposite directions will meet Saturday in a matchup of MLS Eastern Conference squads that could improve the playoff standing for the visiting Philadelphia Union.
Standing in the way of Philadelphia is an Orlando City SC side that has already made a coaching change this season but has yet to see any positive results in the standings from the move.
Philadelphia has won four consecutive MLS matches and five of their last six. The Union (12-11-3, 39 points) is in fifth in the Eastern Conference, six points ahead of the Montreal Impact, which holds the sixth and final playoff spot.
Adding to the sense of urgency for Philadelphia is the fact that of its seven remaining regular-season matches, following the contest against Orlando City, six of those are against teams currently above the playoff cutoff.
“We had a tough stretch at the beginning of the year, but we believed in ourselves, stuck to what we believed in and now you’re starting to see the work come out on the field,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said after Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at D.C. United.
New Orlando City head coach James O’Connor can’s say the same thing, but some improvement has been evident, even as the losses have mounted. Last-place Orlando City (7-16-2, 23 points) is winless over their last six matches, losing five of them.
The Lions did hold tough in a 2-1 defeat to a strong Atlanta United FC side last weekend, and was edged 3-2 at D.C. United’s new Audi Field on Aug. 12. That loss came after a 3-3 tie against the New England Revolution and a heartbreaking 4-3 defeat July 29 at the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“[We’re] trying to remain positive and keep guys confident because it’s easy to lose confidence when things aren’t going your way,” Orlando City’s Jonathan Spector said, according to orlandocitysc.com. “We’ve got good players here still, regardless of the results we’ve had. We’ve had some good performances at times. So we need to try to get back to that as best as we can.”
Injuries will keep Philadelphia defender Matt Real from playing. Orlando City will be without goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar and defender Lamine Sane.
—Field Level Media