By Connor Thomas

 

It’s that time of year again Philly; it’s time for the MLS playoffs, and the Union are heading in as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Last year the Union won the Supporter’s Shield, awarded to the team in the MLS with the best regular season record, and came in as the playoff’s #1 overall seed, but unfortunately fell in the first round to the New England Revolution. Now, the Union will get a chance to avenge that upset in prime position for a deep run into the playoffs. For the 3rd straight season, they’ll start their playoff run on their home pitch at Subaru Park, and for the 2nd time in that stretch their opponent will be the rival New York Red Bulls. The Union took down the Red Bulls in the first round of the 2019 MLS playoffs, and hopefully Saturday’s 2:30pm matchup will yield a similar result.

The two teams have played tightly contested matchups over the course of this season, with the Union winning their 1st matchup 1-0, then the 2nd and 3rd games between them ending in 1-1 draws. Even though there’s a difference of 5 seeds and 6 points in the standings, those results would show that this should be a dogfight for the Union even though they are the favored side. This isn’t the first high pressure situation for Philly this year, though. Earlier in 2021 they progressed further than any other American team in the CONCACAF Club Championship Tournament, falling to the eventual runners up Club America. That experience with pressure should help the Union when they line up on Saturday in front of the home faithful.

Speaking of the home faithful, they should absolutely play a role in Saturday’s action. Philadelphia is a tough place to play, whether it’s on the football field at the Linc, or the… well, football pitch at Subaru Park. The Sons of Ben should be rocking in their end of the stadium, and the rest of the building should be buzzing as well. The Union are 11-3-3 at home this season, which showcases just how important that advantage has been to them, and should continue to be come Saturday. No matter the sport, the Philadelphia fan base always does their best to make it difficult to play here, and that gets ramped up even more for playoff events. It helps that the Union’s fan base is probably larger now than it has ever been in the history of the club. All of this should translate to a great opportunity to advance to the 2nd round of the playoffs, but every little bit of extra advantage helps. There are still tickets available, so if you’re looking to go doop it up Saturday afternoon and cheer on one of the 5 for 5 teams of our great city, scoop some up and break out your best blue and gold garb, and let’s root on the Union on their quest for the MLS Cup!