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Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Atlanta United - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Major League Soccer clash between Philadelphia Union and Atlanta United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Playoff hopefuls Philadelphia Union and Atlanta United will lock horns in their Eastern Conference match when the pair meet at Subaru Park on Saturday evening.

Just one place and one point separate the two in the table, with both sides desperate for a win to strengthen their position in the top seven.


Match preview

Philadelphia Union midfielder Quinn Sullivan celebrates his goal with teammates on June 27, 2021© Reuters

After a winless start to the campaign that saw the Union go three matches without a victory, Jim Curtin's side embarked on an impressive eight-match unbeaten run that saw the club rocket up the table.

Results have since stabilised and the Union now sit amongst the mid-table teams, yet Curtin's men are still well placed to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

Disappointed to have been knocked out in the first round of last season's playoffs, despite topping not only the Eastern Conference table, but also the overall standings, the Union will be chasing their first Major League Soccer Cup title since becoming a franchise in 2010.

Further disappointment struck the U this week after they were knocked out of the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals following a sombre 4-0 aggregate defeat to Mexican side Club America.

Now with just MLS to focus on, the side from Philadelphia will be looking to return to winning ways when Atlanta travel North to the Keystone State.

Atlanta United midfielder Marcelino Moreno (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Crew in the second half at Lower.com Stadium on August 7, 2021© Reuters

Unlike their opponents, Atlanta have no issue with chasing their first MLS Cup triumph, having lifted the trophy in their second season as a club in 2018.

Going on to win the US Open Cup in the following season, Atlanta suffered a grave decline in the disrupted 2020 campaign, finishing second from bottom in the Eastern Conference.

Having somewhat bounced back this season, the Five Stripes are another team involved in the tight chase for a playoff spot and will be wary of Philadelphia one spot below them.

Victorious in all but one of their last eight MLS fixtures, Atlanta will be confident of extending their winning streak, not least because of their strong form against Philadelphia in recent years.

Losing only once in their eight MLS meetings, Atlanta have been a thorn in the side of the Union on a number of occasions, yet Curtin's men did have the pleasure of knocking United out of the Champions League this season.

Toppling the 2018 MLS Cup winners 4-1 on aggregate, the Union will be keen to replicate their continental triumph when the two meet this weekend.

Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W

Atlanta United Major League Soccer form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • W


  • Atlanta United form (all competitions):
    • W
    • L
    • L
    • L
    • L
    • W



    Team News

    Atlanta United FC forward Josef Martinez (7) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against DC United at Audi Field on August 24, 2021© Reuters

    Following a huge stint out of the side with a groin injury earlier this season, veteran midfielder Ilsinho did enjoy a short return to the Union's team in the summer, yet has recently missed their last four fixtures.

    Former Polish youth international Kacper Przybylko has topped the scoring charts for the Union this season and will be looking to add to his 13 goals across all competitions this season.

    Only second-placed Nashville SC have conceded fewer than Philadelphia this season and their backline will be boosted by the return of first-choice keeper Andre Blake, who came back into the fold for their recent victory against Orlando City.

    After making 24 appearances in 2020, Emerson Hyndman suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in matchday eight of the 2021 campaign and has been absent for Atlanta ever since.

    Franco Ibarra recently returned to training for Gonzalo Pineda's side and the Argentine midfielder could be close to making his first MLS appearance since April, yet he is unlikely to feature against the Union.

    Josef Martinez has 91 MLS goals to his name since joining Atlanta in 2017, including five against Saturday's opponents and the Venezuelan international will be looking to add to his tally of nine this year when he lines up against Philadelphia.

    Philadelphia Union possible starting lineup:
    Blake; Wagner, Elliot, Glesnes, Mbazio; Martinez, Bedoya, Flach; Monterio, Burke, Przybylko

    Atlanta United possible starting lineup:
    Guzan; Bello, Walkes, Franco, Campbell, Lennon; Rossetto, Moreno, Sosa; Barco, Martinez


    SM words green background

    We say: Philadelphia Union 1-1 Atlanta United

    Not much separates these two sides in the table and there is nothing really to suggest much separates the pair on the pitch.

    Atlanta do boast a superior head-to-head record against the Union, yet United have not been up to their usual lofty standards in the past couple of seasons, making the draw a likely outcome for this one.



    Top tip

    Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data


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How you voted: Philadelphia vs Atlanta

Philadelphia Union
35.0%
Draw
30.0%
Atlanta United
35.0%
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Orlando City SC forward Nani celebrates with teammates after winning on June 26, 2021
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Tables

Eastern Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England34227565412473
2Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia341412848351354
3Nashville SCNashville341218455332254
4New York City FCNY City341491156362051
5Atlanta UnitedAtlanta34131294537851
6Orlando City34131295048251
7New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls34139123933648
8DC United34145155654247
9Columbus Crew34138134645147
10CF MontrealMontreal341210124644246
11Inter MiamiInter Miami34125173653-1741
12Chicago Fire3497183654-1834
13Toronto34610183966-2728
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati3448223774-3720

Western Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England34227565412473
2Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia341412848351354
3Nashville SCNashville341218455332254
4New York City FCNY City341491156362051
5Atlanta UnitedAtlanta34131294537851
6Orlando City34131295048251
7New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls34139123933648
8DC United34145155654247
9Columbus Crew34138134645147
10CF MontrealMontreal341210124644246
11Inter MiamiInter Miami34125173653-1741
12Chicago Fire3497183654-1834
13Toronto34610183966-2728
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati3448223774-3720

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