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Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC

This match could define the Philadelphia Union’s season.

The Philadelphia Union’s Tranquillo Barnetta hits a free kick against Orlando City SC at Talen Energy Stadium. Trey Madara / Brotherly Game

Game: Philadelphia Union vs. Orlando City SC

Date: Sunday, October 16th

Time: 3:00 PM EDT (7:00 PM GMT)

Venue: Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Pennsylvania)

Referees: REF: Ricardo Salazar, AR1: Andrew Bigelow, AR2: Jeffrey Greeson, 4TH: Jorge Gonzalez

Television: The Comcast Network (Philadelphia), TV27 (Orlando), DirecTV 472

Streaming: MLS Live

All-time record: The Union have won twice and the teams have drawn twice as well. The last match between the two in May was a fiery 2-2 affair that saw seven cards given out, including a red card to David Mateos for a hard foul on Fabian Herbers in extra time.

What the Philadelphia Union will look like: The Union should be well-rested and well-prepared after the international break. Alejandro Bedoya did not play for the United States due to a rib injury, however Jim Curtin said in yesterday’s press conference that he expected Ale to be available on Sunday. Andre Blake played once for Jamaica, and Warren Creavalle played twice for Guyana during the break, with Blake and Creavalle facing one another on Tuesday night. Josh Yaro is listed as out with a concussion on the MLS website, however Curtin said in the presser that he was taking the final tests in the concussion protocol to be cleared to play. With Creavalle coming back from international play and travel, it might be the opportune time to have Maurice Edu inserted back into the lineup. It’s been almost 400 days since Edu played a match for the Union, and getting him back in time for a (possible) playoff run would be a huge lift for the club. Aside from that, the rest of the squad should be ready to go.

What Orlando City will look like: Who knows. When a team is out of the playoff race and playing out the season, there’s no real way to predict how the players will react. Some may decide to mail it in and collect their remaining paychecks, looking toward next season’s promise. Others may want to play spoiler, trying to take the other team down with them, or are looking to secure a position in next year’s squad. One thing is certain - any team with Kaka and Cyle Larin should not be taken lightly. The Union defense will have a tall task on Sunday. They can’t allow Kaka to work in space off of the ball, nor can they let Larin lull them to sleep only to slip between a gap unabated.

What to expect: I expect both teams to come out hungry, and if the Union can get an early goal they should be able to really play off of the home crowd and demoralize Orlando. If Orlando scores early, I think that will give them confidence and could make for a tough afternoon for the home side. Look for Orlando to switch the ball with long diagonal passes designed to force the Union to chase laterally and lose offensive players. Look for the Union to really press Orlando and look for turnovers to spur breaks downfield with numbers. It should be a fun game, one worthy of leading into the playoffs.