Real Salt Lake v Philadelphia Union – MLS
Real Salt Lake will assess the fitness of Phillips and Beltran, the latter returned to training this week for the first time in a number of weeks. The hosts continue to be without a number of players, however, including Beckerman who has been given a 1 match ban. Movsisyan and Mulholland should return to the starting line-up, the former will be motivated to impress the coach. 5 defeats in 6 games have seen Real Salt Lake fall back down the table. Coach Petke made a positive start at his new club but has since seen momentum halted. The long list of absentees has not helped the side, with Petke still struggling to name his best line-up and changing formation often. Petke has voiced his frustrations publicly which has not gone down well with some players. A 4-4-2 shape might be used in an effort to increase the attacking threat. Despite being the home team, Real Salt Lake are expected to have less of the ball. The hosts will sit deep without the ball to frustrate opponents, however, if they concede first they will need to change their approach and take more risks. This leaves the team more vulnerable to counter attacks against a confident opponent.
Philadelphia Union continues to be without Jones, as the midfielder is away on international duty. Herbers picked up an injury in the last match, with Pontius set to return to the starting lineup, playing down the right with Picault on the left. Fabinho was given a well-earned rest recently but is likely to come back into the starting line-up, with the defensive displays very strong of late. Currently, on their longest winning streak in the MLS, Philadelphia have transformed their fortunes after a very poor start to the season. 4 straight wins have propelled the team up the table, easing the pressure on coach Curtin who deserves great credit for remaining calm earlier in the season. Players believe they can win against any opponent at the moment and expect 3 points from this fixture. The 4-2-3-1 formation enables the visitors to dominate the ball, with Medunjanin and Bedoya forming an excellent pairing in deep midfield. Philadelphia are playing with greater confidence now compared to earlier in the season, taking more risks on the ball. Scoring first will lead to the side dropping deeper, with just 1 goal conceded in 5 games highlighting their defensive solidity.
Verdict & Prediction
Philadelphia Union are currently on their longest winning streak, with 4 straight wins in the MLS transforming the mood. The visitors made a terrible start to the season, but coach Curtin remained calm under huge pressure and has now seen the results improve. Players full of confidence. The players are looking forward to back to back away games, determined to maintain their winning run and climb further up the table. The focus in the team is excellent at the moment, none of the players want to experience the poor run of form endured earlier in the season. No complacency expected. Philadelphia will expect a win from this match, anything less would be viewed as a disappointment. The players are full of belief at the moment and take on a side who are struggling for form and have a number of players absent. Another win would maintain the feel-good factor at the club.
Prediction: Over 2.50 goals
Odds: 1.73 Pinnacle