Philadelphia Union vs. FC Cincinnati Prediction, Preview, and Odds - 10/31/21
The Philadelphia Union will look to climb up the Eastern Conference standings when they host FC Cincinnati on Sunday night at Subaru Park. Cincinnati has the worst record in MLS at 4-8-20 after taking a 6-3 home loss to Nashville SC on Wednesday as a huge +379 underdog. Philadelphia battled Toronto FC to a 2-2 road draw on Wednesday with the tie hitting at +161 odds, and is now in third place in the East at 13-11-8.
These teams met just three weeks ago, with the Union picking up a 2-1 road win. Philadelphia has won four of the five all-time meetings with one draw between the two since Cincinnati joined MLS.
Cincinnati’s losing streak reaches 10 as nightmare season winds down
It has been a rough go for Cincinnati as it is headed for a third straight last place finish since joining MLS, and things didn’t get any better on Wednesday as it was blown out again on its home field by Nashville. Things got off to a great start with Cincinnati benefiting from an own goal six minutes in before Brenner converted a penalty shortly after, and the lead was 3-1 in the 32nd on Brandon Vazquez’s strike. Nashville got momentum back with a goal just before the halftime whistle before putting four past the Cincinnati net in the second half to turn the game into a blowout.
Nashville carried 53% possession and had 15 total shots to Cincinnati’s nine, with the hosts putting five attempts on target. After converting just seven minutes earlier from the spot, Brenner missed a penalty that would have made it 3-0 in the 24th, while Kenneth Vermeer struggled in net with just three saves.
"Second half, kind of the whole old face kind of showed in the second half where, again, we gave up some goals (against the) run of play in unfortunate times– from distance, set pieces," head coach Tyrone Marshall said to The Cincinnati Enquirer."Again, you know, it's concentration, lack of concentration that those goals were scored in those moments, so for me, it's really a tale of two halves. I'm not saying anything to the boys because I think they know how frustrating it is."
Cincinnati’s offense has actually shown some improvement during this lengthy losing streak but still has poor numbers overall at 1.13 goals and 12.15 shots per game. The defense is the worst in MLS by a significant amount with 2.19 goals and 15.46 shots allowed per match, with Cincinnati keeping six clean sheets for the season.
Brenner is Cincinnati’s top scorer this season with eight goals and one assist for the season. Luciano Acosta has dished out a team-high seven assists to go along with seven goals, while Vazquez is also having a nice year with four goals and three helpers.
Defender Gustavo Vallecilla, who has made 24 starts this season while scoring two goals, is not expected to play as he deals with a hamstring injury. Fellow center back Maikel van der Werff hasn’t played this season due to a hernia.
Union squander chance to hold second place in East
Officially clinching a playoff berth will have to wait until at least Sunday for Philadelphia, as it could only manage a draw against struggling Toronto on Wednesday. Alejandro Bedoya opened the scoring just 37 seconds in, and the score would remain 1-0 all the way until the 66th minute when Toronto equalized. Toronto was in the lead just four minutes after that due to a Jack Elliott own goal, but the Union at least managed a draw thanks to Sergio Santos’ header in the 77th.
Both teams managed 15 total attempts on target in what finished as an even game, although Toronto did have 60% possession. Dániel Gazdag was credited with the assist on the opening goal, while Kai Wagner delivered a terrific service on a cross into the box to set up the late equalizer.
“You can see how tight it is in the standings. We have to go on the field and execute against a Cincinnati team that'll throw everything at us and has nothing to lose,” head coach Jim Curtin said via Brotherly Game, as the Union now trail Nashville by two points for second place.
The Union have been solid enough offensively with an average of 1.41 goals and 12.40 shots per match. Philadelphia’s defense stands out as one of the best in MLS, allowing 1.06 goals and 11.50 shots per game while keeping 11 clean sheets for the season.
Kacper Przybylko is the leader of the Philadelphia offense with 11 goals and three assists this year. Jamiro Montero is atop the Philadelphia leaderboard with six assists while scoring twice, and Wagner is also having a nice year with three goals and four assists as a defender.
Santos suffered a quad injury late in the Toronto game after scoring an equalizer, and it doesn’t seem likely that he will play Sunday. Forward Corey Burke, who has played well with four goals and two assists in just 17 matches, might be able to return in Sunday after missing several weeks with appendicitis. Top goaltender Andre Blake is also back with the team after sitting out last game following the death of a family member. Defender Alvas Powell (groin) and midfielder Ilsinho (hamstring) remain out.
Side prediction: Philadelphia Union -2 (+136)
Total: Over 3 (-128)
It’s pretty much impossible not to fade Cincinnati at this point, as it finishes out one of the worst seasons in MLS history on a 10-game losing streak while getting totally blown out in two straight matches. With plenty to play for, the Union should be in total command here, and Cincinnati’s defense won’t be able to hold up.
The advanced metrics aren’t favorable for the Cincinnati defense, which ranks last in MLS with 1.83 expected goals allowed per game while only getting worse in recent games. Philadelphia might not have an elite offense, but it is an above-average unit at home and should get a key member in Burke back in the lineup, which is enough to handle a Cincinnati back line that can’t stop anyone right now.
Those numbers get even worse on the road for Cincinnati, which hasn’t won a game away from home since June 26 while getting outscored 23-8 over its last six road matches. Going against Cincinnati at any number has been a strong bet for the last few months, and the Union are a good team that will take care of business here.
The Cincinnati defense can’t be trusted to hold Philadelphia under this total itself, as it has given up a whopping 32 goals over the last 10 matches alone. Philadelphia has trended towards lower-scoring games so far, but metrics indicate that might not continue much longer with the Union allowing 1.46 expected goals per game to rank in the middle of the pack.
There have been at least some signs of life for the Cincinnati offense, which has scored seven times than the last three matches and is merely below average instead of completely awful in most metrics. The
Union shouldn’t have much trouble scoring three goals themselves, and Cincinnati will avoid getting shut out.