The Philadelphia Union beat Alianza 4-0 at Subaru Park this past Tuesday. With some shocking upsets, the road through the CCL tournament is clear. Should the Union go all in on continental glory?
The round of 16 in the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) has wrapped up. Austin FC (MLS) and Pachuca (LIGA MX) were the shocking exits of the round. Pachuca has been hovering around the top of LIGA MX and Austin faced a team from Haiti with just 14 players.
The fact is, the CCL title is there for anyone. After a round of 16 that featured a backup squad for the Union, should the club take the next rounds more seriously?
How Hard do the Union Push?
The Union cruised past Alianza 4-0 to move on. During the tie, the Union used a rotated lineup. Jim Curtin took the second leg more seriously. Starting more regular starters than just the 3 that started leg 1.
However, is Jim going to keep throwing a rotated lineup in CCL games? If the Union does decide to go all in for CCL, then they may have to sacrifice points in MLS. Instead of rotating for a CCL game, they may rotate for Saturday MLS games.
Let’s not act like the Union’s bench lineup isn’t still really good. It is not too much to ask them to grab at least a few draws or even a win or two while the Union navigates CCL. The question is does Jim give them a chance in MLS or CCL?
Another question is what about the reserve players that showed out in the CCL round of 16? Damion Lowe and Andres Perea were both named to the team of the round.
Jim wants to put trophies in the case. There may be none bigger than the CONCACAF Champions League. Assume Jim pushes for it. Maybe not with every starting 11 player but the Union is built to make a run.
The Road Ahead
The road ahead for the Union is clear. On top of that, there is a matchup the CCL promoters should be begging for.
Three MLS teams remain and they all reside on one side of the bracket. (Bracket in the tweet below)
Quarterfinals are set 😤 #SCCL23
— Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (@TheChampions) March 17, 2023
LAFC, Vancouver, and the Union are the 3 left in MLS. LAFC and Vancouver face each other and the Union gets Atlas of LIGA MX. We could very well be looking at another MLS-LIGA MX final. After the Seattle Sounders brought home the first title for an MLS team in history.
The Union-Atlas matchup will be close but the Union should have the edge. Atlas has been reeling this season as they are around the bottom of LIGA MX and needed a shocking 4-0 win to advance themselves.
Should the Union take care of business as does LAFC, we will see a two-legged rematch of the 2022 MLS Cup. I am sure that is a dream for promoters.
However, the Union needs to focus on Atlas before anything.
The first leg is at Subaru Park on April 4th. Then, the Union travel down to Guadalajara, Mexico for leg 2 on April 12.
Featured Image: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation