Week 20 Preview: Union vs. NYCFC

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By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

It’s been a pretty rough week to be a Union fan after suffering losses against the New England Revolution and Club America, but the Boys In Blue will be looking redeem themselves against NYCFC at home.

NYCFC are currently on a six-game unbeaten streak, but the Union are the joint-second best defensive team in MLS. However, this could be complicated by the fact that right back Olivier Mbaizo picked up an injury during the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal. Alvas Powell will be expected to take his place in the back four.

Although suffering two consecutive losses, and being in an unfavorable position for the second leg of the CCL semifinals, it’s unlikely that morale will be super low for the Union. One of their most admirable qualities is that they don’t let bad performances or nonoptimal results get to them. If anything, it gives them more motivation to work harder and do better for their next game. They’re still sitting in a playoff final series spot, and with the second leg of the CCL semifinal not until September, they have some time to focus their efforts completely on MLS again.

The biggest advantage going into this week is that the Union will finally have no players unavailable for selection. Nobody is away on international duty, and players like Anthony Fontana and Matt Real have been cleared after undergoing concussion protocol. New players like Matheus Davo and Jesus Bueno will also have their chance to see some game action.

“We’ve had the most guys we’ve ever had in training today,” said head coach Jim Curtin. “Everybody is available on the roster for tomorrow’s game.”

In terms of playing Davo, he added, “We’ll know when the time [to play Davo] is right. Certainly, over the next two games, you’ll probably see him in the squad. I think he’ll start to really get integrated into the group sooner rather than later.”

Predicted Lineup: Andre Blake, Kai Wagner, Jakob Glesnes, Jack Elliott, Alvas Powell, Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya, Daniel Gazdag, Kacper Przybyłko, Sergio Santos

  • With the exception of Mbaizo, it’s unlikely that Curtin will change his lineup much from the Club America game. There will definitely be a sense of wanting to prove something with this lineup, perhaps that, even though the first leg of the semifinal ended disastrously, this lineup can still work. It’s risky not giving a lot of these players some proper rest, but playing NYCFC will require the Union’s best guys if they want to be back in the win column.

Score Prediction: Although, on paper, it’s a good lineup, these players are tired. Almost all of them have been playing week in and week out, putting in an insane amount of minutes across two different competitions, and their exhaustion is showing. They’ll give everything they’ve got, but NYCFC look to have more energy than the Union at the moment, which will result in a 2-1 loss for the home side.

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