The Philadelphia Union already have clinched a playoff spot for the fourth consecutive season. They’ve also captured at least one home game in the postseason.
The task now for the Union (14-8-11, 53 points) is to win and grab three remaining points in the regular-season finale Sunday on the road against New York City FC (14-11-8, 50 points). One more win could secure the No. 2 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia, however, hasn’t performed at its peak in previous outings at NYCFC.
“Certainly going to Yankee Stadium against a good New York City team that’s very well-coached, has a ton of talent on the field and is a difficult place to go play, we need to be perfect in that last game,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “We’ll see how it shakes out, but we certainly want to go for that two seed and hopefully find ourselves in a situation where we can host some playoff games.”
The Union, who have been besieged with injuries, posted a 2-0 win over FC Cincinnati last Sunday.
“Coach has been preaching it. For the last nine games, he writes on the board every time playoff mentality and playoff push and play every game like it’s the playoffs,” Paxten Aaronson said. “I think that creates an environment around the team that’s hungry and you can see it on the field.”
NYCFC will look to finish the regular season unbeaten in their final five games.
Following a 1-1 draw with Atlanta United on Oct. 20, NYCFC recorded a 6-0 win over D.C. United three nights later. The club also posted a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Oct. 27 and a 3-1 win over Inter Miami CF three days later.
If NYCFC can oust the Union and come up with three points, they can improve playoff positioning. There are many different scenarios depending on the outcome of this game and others.
“It’s about winning, it’s about getting as high as possible in the league,” NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila said. “So we are of course very, very confident now and a lot of energy looking forward to Sunday. Having said that, we know it’s going to be a tough, tough game.”
Valentin Castellanos (18 goals) leads the race for the Golden Boot by one goal over D.C. United’s Ola Kamara and Seattle’s Raul Ruidiaz.
“There’s of course things to work on. His hold-up play is very good, but he can be cleaner technically. He can be a better finisher,” Deila said of Castellanos. “But he’s 23 years old and already to score 18 goals, he has a big, big chance now to keep on scoring and win something with us.”
–Field Level Media
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