The Philadelphia Union and LAFC meet in Los Angeles for the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League. After a 1-1 draw in Chester, Pennsylvania last week, it is clear that these two teams cannot outdo each other.
The only difference between the Union and LAFC is the coasts they play on. The last 5 meetings between the two sides have all been draws. The only difference is the MLS Cup where LAFC would go on to win in PKs. In the 2022 MLS season, the two teams even finished with the same amount of points.
We can get crazier with the similarities between the two. During last Wednesday’s leg 1, both LAFC and the Union had 50% possession, 9 shots, and 11 fouls.
Now, we are at leg 2 in LA. It is only fitting we walk into it tied 1-1 on aggregate and everything to play for.
Things Get Crazy in LA
The Union were just 5 minutes away from a 1-0 victory in leg 1. However, Kellyn Acosta would make sure he brought a 1-1 drawback to LA. More important, however, is the away goal LA got. Away goals are still the tiebreaker. This means no matter the outcome, the Union will have to score tonight or they will be sent out of the tournament. A 0-0 draw sends the Union home. A 1-1 draw sends the tie to PKs. If we take a look at history, scoring 1 goal in LA should not be a difficult task.
The last 3 times the Union and LAFC met in LA, the scores were 3-3, 2-2, and 3-3. Scoring 1 goal should not be an issue. Now, keeping LA from scoring more could be. The Union is in a situation where a draw can send them through. Any draw of 2-2 or greater would send the Union to the final. However, what a statement it would be to win outright.
The Union has been on the cusp of winning LA 3 times now. All 3 times they have allowed LA to equalize late in the match. There is no better time to oust past demons than tonight. MLS Cup will always hurt, but a win tonight will soften that blow tremendously.
Lineup Questions for the Union
The Union has some lineup questions to answer coming into leg 2. Unfortunately, Jose “El Brujo” Martinez did not recover from his hamstring injury suffered during leg 1 last week. He did not travel with the team to LA.
This means Jim Curtin has some decisions to make. Does he just do the usual when Martinez is out and slide Leon Flach to the 6? Flach has dealt with his own injury and has struggled at times this year. Another option would be to give Jesus Bueno a shot at the 6. Bueno has found minutes hard to come by in his first few years with the Union. However, he has been impressive in his short opportunities this year.
Those two options mean Curtin doesn’t have to flex an entirely new formation for the first time in a crucial game. However, that option is still on the table. Damion Lowe has been lights out in CCL as the reserve CB. Fans would like to see him play more. Could we see Jack Elliott slide up to the 6 and allow Damion Lowe a chance to lock down the defense?
The most likely outcome is Leon Flach just sliding to the 6. However, Jim Curtin has options now. Even if he has decided he does not want to use them for some reason.
This Could be the Biggest Night in Union History
Tonight could go down as the most important night in the Union’s short history. Not only reaching the finals of the biggest club continental tournament but knocking out the team who stole MLS Cup from you to do it? While on their turf. This could be massive. Or, it could be just another Union heartbreak given out by LAFC.
Leg 2 of the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinal between the Union and LAFC kicks off tonight at 10 pm on FS1.
Featured Image: Philadelphia Union