I don’t know if you’ve heard, but LAFC are in the MLS Cup Final, Saturday afternoon at The Banc against the Philadelphia Union. To get a sense of how things are going in Philly, I spoke with Joe Lister at our Philadelphia-area soccer site on SB Nation, Brotherly Game. Many thanks to Joe for taking the time to answer my questions!
Angels on Parade asks Brotherly Game:
1. Wow, look at us. Who would have thought? I know Philly sports are in a good moment generally right now, but how’s the reaction to the Union reaching MLS Cup been? How have the most locked-in been taking it? Happy to be here or win or bust?
Obviously, Philly as a whole has greater priorities than the Union (the Phightin’s are in the World Series, the Eagles are 8-0), but for Union fans, this moment is massive. There are a lot of folks that have been around the club since 2010 and even before that, and this means the world to those people. There’s a decent portion of the population that was happy to just beat NYCFC in the Eastern Conference Final, but most people aren’t satisfied with just reaching the Cup Final. They want to win. It was the expectation before the season, and it remains the ultimate goal.
2. I think the games between LAFC and the Union are almost always literally stalemates. Do you think the prior meetings, including the one earlier this season, will inform Saturday’s clash? Or is a different thing considering how the teams have changed since then in personnel and style of play?
Especially since 2020, Philly and LA have obviously been pretty even, including in their two meetings. What is worth noting is that those last two draws were played in Los Angeles, so the Union should be pretty comfortable going into that space, even with a trophy on the line.
The Union haven’t really changed since the two clubs last met in May. While LAFC brought in their bigger European names, Jim Curtin and Ernst Tanner somewhat shrugged and said “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Given that Gareth Bale isn’t starting and Giorgio Chiellini isn’t a 90-minute-man, I don’t think that this matchup will look too different from the last two.
3. Heading into this game from a Philadelphia perspective, what makes you most nervous?
The away factor. Philadelphia was undefeated at home this season, and the impact of the home crowd was undeniable against New York City last week. Of course, the Union wouldn’t be the top seed in the East without a good road record, but it’s tough to not consider that this LAFC crowd will likely be the toughest they’ve faced in a long time.
A close second is the status of captain Ale Bedoya. He picked up a knock a month ago and has seen limited action since. He played the first half against NYC, but really started struggling after the opening 30 minutes. His presence as a player and a leader will be a massive factor into how the Union play on Saturday.
4. (Bonus) How do you feel this game will go?
No idea. Usually, I’m pretty good at picking scores and scorers, but this matchup just feels different. All I’ll say is that this will be close.
You can find my answers to Joe’s questions on Brotherly Game.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.