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Match Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC

After the heartbreak of the Open Cup final loss, the Union head north to try and play spoiler.

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After the heartbreak of losing a cup final on penalties, the Union have to somehow regroup and act like they give even half a crap for a trip north of the border Saturday.

Toronto FC is five points clear of seventh place Orlando City with four games to go so a win and favorable results elsewhere could clinch the first-ever playoff berth for the 9-year-old club that has made being a Union fan seem not quite so bad by comparison over the past few seasons ("They spend money and they're still worse than us!").

The only consolation for the Union - eight points behind Montreal for the final playoff spot with two more games played - is avoiding a season sweep and playing the role of spoiler. In other words, it's a good thing MLS doesn't have relegation because a must-win against the Sebastian Giovinco-led Toronto attack to avoid being sent down to play in the minor leagues would make the season-long nightmare even more unbearable.

Giovinco has completely owned the Union (and much of MLS) this year, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 Toronto win at PPL Park on a free kick on May 2 and contributing a goal and an assist in a 2-1 victory in Toronto on July 18. Giovinco has been sensational in his first season in MLS, filling the stat sheet with 20 goals and 15 assists.

Jim Curtin will likely trot out a lineup similar to the one that fell short on penalties to Sporting Kansas City Wednesday night and we'll be fine with that because it's not like there are many players we're clamoring to see get more playing time on a roster so desperately in need of a makeover.

Wednesday night's Open Cup Final, as it did a year ago, had the potential to lift an entire fanbase out of the gutter and bring the promise and hope of Champions League football. While there is a silver lining to not winning it - for starters the validation of a broken organization - the loss casts a shadow on this game and any satisfaction we might otherwise get from trying to keep a rival from making the playoffs.

Which is all to say, the Union will probably find a way to win.