The two top teams in the East clash in Chester tonight in a match with serious playoff seeding ramifications. First-place Atlanta United is just days removed from lifting the U.S. Open Cup trophy at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, their second major trophy in only their third year of existence. They’ve won six of their last seven in league play, more than any other team over that stretch.
Though Atlanta is trending way up after some inconsistency through the first half of the season, they’re hardly untouchable. The Union grabbed a point in Atlanta in their first meeting this season, and that was without Jamiro Monteiro, Marco Fabián, and Kacper Przybyłko. Now, the Union are well-rested and nearly at full-strength. Atlanta is playing their fifth match in three weeks, and they’ll do so without Ezequiel Barco, who has returned to the injury report.
Alejandro Bedoya is the Union’s lone absence tonight, but he’s a big one. The midfielder is one of three Union players (Haris Medunjanin, Jack Elliott) to play every minute this season, and he’s been instrumental to the success of the high-press. Together with Monteiro, Bedoya has done excellently to shield Haris Medunjanin while also getting forward to contribute in attack. Brenden Aaronson is most likely to slot into Bedoya’s role, but Warren Creavalle presents a more defensive option and is certainly in contention to start.
The Union can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight, which is great news considering how tough their remaining games are. A win against Atlanta tonight, and either a win or draw for the San Jose Earthquakes against Orlando City will seal the Union’s place in the post-season. LAFC is the Union’s next test, with the black and gold coming to Chester in two weeks.
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake; Ray Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Mark McKenzie, Kai Wagner; Haris Medunjanin; Brenden Aaronson, Jamiro Monteiro; Marco Fabián; Kacper Przybyłko, Andrew Wooten
Atlanta United: Brad Guzan; Leonardo Gonzalez-Pirez, Miles Robinson, Florentin Pogba; Julian Gressel, Darlington Nagbe, Jeff Larentowicz, Justin Meram; Emerson Hyndman; Pity Martínez, Josef Martínez
How to watch
Where: Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, Pennsylvania
When: 7:30 PM ET, Saturday, August 31, 2019
Streaming: ESPN+, FuboTV (affiliate link).*
Radio: Union Radio
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