MLS Cup holders New York City FC welcome the Philadelphia Union to Yankee Stadium on Saturday (1pm ET). Can the hosts maintain their unbeaten start to the domestic campaign, or will it be then visitors who continue to go without tasting defeat? This preview with its betting picks and predictions aims to answer that.
NYCFC & Philadelphia Early season form
After what was a resounding win in Major League Soccer last time out, the New York City boys may not arrive here in such high spirits, and that’s because they tasted defeat for the first time since re-emerging from the off-season, losing by four goals to against Guatemalan opposition Comunicaciones in the CONCACAF Champions League. Fortunately, thanks to their first-leg lead, NYCFC progressed to the semi-finals of that competition.
Domestically, it’s been a modest start by Ronny Deila’s men, who’ve lost one, tied one and won one. Last weekend, they showcased their attacking qualities in front of a home crowd, scoring four goals en route to thumping CF Montreal at this venue. Coach Deila will be hoping to see something similar this weekend, though the visit of the Union doesn’t exactly provide the perfect opportunity to gain further success.
As far as the visiting Philadelphia Union are concerned, the start of the new campaign has gone rather well. Jim Curtin’s men were held by Minnesota first time out, but that’s far from the worst result in the world. They have since followed up with back-to-back wins against Montreal and the San Jose Earthquakes, scoring four and conceding just one in the process. Such efforts should mean that the Union travel to Yankee Stadium feeling confident.
Lack of creativity
OK, so NYCFC scored four goals last weekend, which was pleasing, and they showed that they do have forward quality in their ranks, though it’s easy to feel that they need to improve in terms of creating chances. For a start, when we look at the fact that they produced just 1.4 expected goals against Montreal, it’s easy to feel that they weren’t entirely worthy of the four goals scored. The fact that they produced just 0.8 xG and 0.9 xG against LA Galaxy and the Vancouver Whitecaps respectively is slightly worrying.
If we look at NYCFC’s lack of creativity in relation to what they’ve given away, then alarm bells start to ring. First time out, while they created 0.8 xG, they conceded 1.8, suggesting that their one-goal loss was warranted. Next time out, they did improve in this respect, conceding only 0.6 xG, giving themselves a positive difference of +0.3, though the Vancouver Whitecaps are hardly the most threatening team in the division, so we probably shouldn’t be too impressed by this, while they surrendered 2.0 expected goals last time out. Sooner or later, Saturday’s hosts are going to pay the price for allowing their opponents to create more than them.
During the previous campaign, there were no secrets between this pair, who met on no fewer than four occasions. NYCFC edged things, picking up two victories to Philly’s one, though when the teams faced off at Yankee Stadium, there was little between them, as a close encounter ended in a 1-1 tie. Close games are commonplace between New York City and Philadelphia Union, at least that has been the case in recent times, with only one of the last six renewals being won by more than just a single goal. Even then, a two-goal victory for NYCFC could be heavily attributed to an early Philadelphia red card.
The pair have each won two of the last five renewals. Interestingly, Saturday’s host are without a home win against the Union since 2019, with the visitors picking up four points from their last two visits to the Big Apple. Another interesting stat is that the away team has scored at least once in all but one of the last nine renewals of this fixture.
How to bet this fixture?
If we look at the early betting, then we can see that the hosts are red-hot favorites at a general price of -140 on the moneyline. OK, so NYCFC do have home advantage, while they built some domestic momentum last weekend, beating Montreal, and they are now unbeaten in two at Yankee Stadium this season. However, as touched on in this preview above, they’ve been less than convincing at both ends of the pitch.
Up against a Union side that is yet to taste defeat, the home win looks too short. As a result, the visitors make plenty of appeal, especially at generous-looking odds of +360. If you’re of a similar opinion and feel that this is a fixture where Philly can get something, then don’t shy away from such a price, though the smarter play may just be ‘Philadelphia Union Draw No Bet’ at +300.
The Union arrive here having made a pleasing start to the campaign, and not only have picked up promising results, but they have delivered strong performances against strong opposition, opposition that is probably better than that faced by NYCFC. Their draw against an unbeaten Minnesota side was sturdy, while they have since taken things up a notch, beating both Montreal and San Jose, creating a chunky 4.6 expected goals and conceding only 0.8 in the process. Yes, it is early days, but the fact that Philly come into this fixture with an average expected goal difference of +1.25, compared to NYCFC’s of -0.44, is very hard to ignore.
Santos to strike
Sergio Santos is yet to bag for the Philadelphia Union this term, but he’s not likely to be without a goal for long. At odds of +310, punters shouldn’t shy away from supporting the forward to pick up his first goal of the campaign at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Philly’s lively Brazilian striker arrives here averaging a very high 0.67 expected goals per 90 minutes, plus he is also working off an average of 3.12 shots per 90 minutes. Against NYCFC’s less than secure back-line, Santos can strike.
These are the betting picks and predictions for this NYCFC vs Philadelphia Union preview: