Philadelphia begin two-game Florida swing against Orlando City


The Philadelphia Union are in Florida for two games in four days.

The Union open that slate against Orlando City on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports The Gambler. The Union Pregame Show presented by DraftKings starts at 7 p.m. ET with Sean Brace and Joe Tansey.

Dave Leno and Sebastien Le Toux will be on the radio call. The game is televised on ESPN. The postgame show with Brace. Tansey and Kevin Kinkead will be on air after the final whistle.

Philadelphia and Orlando are separated by two places and one point in the Eastern Conference standings. The Union have 23 points and are seven points adrift of the New England Revolution. The Revs beat Inter Miami 5-0 on Wednesday night. The Union visit Inter Miami on Sunday.

Orlando City is fourth in the East with 22 points. The Lions are 3-1-2 at Exploria Stadium and they have not won in their last three matches.

The Lions fell to Toronto FC on Saturday in TFC's first home game in Canada since the border restrictions were eased between the United States and Canada.

Orlando ranks second in the East in goals conceded, but it has not produced a clean sheet in its last four games. It conceded one goal each in matches with the New York Red Bulls, Inter Miami, Chicago Fire and Toronto.

The Union, who are 2-1-4 on the road, allowed the same number of goals as Orlando City. They have two clean sheets in their last five contests.

Philadelphia's defensive setup should be headlined by Matt Freese, who is available for selection after serving his one-game red-card suspension for the win over D.C. United.

Freese started the Union's first game without No. 1 goalkeeper Andre Blake against the New York Red Bulls. Blake, Cory Burke, Alvas Powell and the Jamaican team face off with the United States men's national team on Sunday in the Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals.

Orlando City will not have the services of Daryl Dike up top, but it will have Nani and Chris Mueller. Nani has four goals in his last six league games, but he has never scored in a regular-season contest versus the Union. The former Manchester United man has two assists in his three career appearances versus Jim Curtin's side.

The Union's defensive game plan will not change when defending Nani. The same four defenders are expected to start on Thursday.

The selection process gets difficult in midfield, where Curtin has five midfielders to choose for four spots. Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Jamiro Monteiro, Alejandro Bedoya and Daniel Gazdag are eligible for selection.

Sergio Santos' recent form combined with the durability he showed on Saturday makes him a candidate to start next to Kacper Przybylko. Gazdag started in the second striker role for the Red Bulls game.

Whichever midfielder is excluded from the starting XI on Thursday should be in place for Sunday's matchup with Inter Miami due to the short turnaround and the drop off in quality from the two Florida opponents.


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