In each of the past two seasons, the Philadelphia Union and New York City Football Club met in the Eastern Conference finals.
Based on current results, both clubs have some work to do to make their playoff positioning more comfortable heading into Saturday night’s clash at New York.
The Union (6-4-3, 21 points) scored three times in a 12-minute span in the second half to rally for a 3-1 victory over NYCFC in last season’s Eastern Conference final on Oct. 30. Two years ago, NYCFC registered a 2-1 victory at Philadelphia to advance to the MLS Cup final after finishing fourth in the regular season.
The winner of each conference-final game went on to win the MLS Cup title.
So far this season, the Union find themselves in better standing in pursuit of the playoffs.
Philadelphia starts this week in fifth place and three points ahead of ninth-place Charlotte. The Union are 4-0-2 during a six-game unbeaten streak in MLS play that has seen them score 12 goals. Daniel Gazdag scored two goals and Julian Carranza also tallied last week in a 3-0 win over the New England Revolution.
“I give the players a ton of credit for quietly going 4-0-1 in that block of five games that I talked a lot about,” Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin said. “We now start a new set of five games with some difficult road tests and that starts with New York City — always a hard place to go.”
NYCFC (4-5-4, 16 points) are 0-3-1 during a four-game winless skid in MLS play that continued with a 1-1 draw at Orlando on May 17. Gabe Segal scored in the 89th minute to salvage a point.
NYCFC are playing a home game for the time since their 3-1 win over FC Dallas on April 22. They are 6-0-2 in their last eight MLS home matches.
“We have an opportunity now, starting with a difficult one against Philadelphia to make sure we put some points on the board,” NYCFC coach Nick Cushing said.
–Field Level Media