Chicago Fire travel to Subaru Park to take on Philadelphia Union on Sunday (6pm ET), as the home team look to improve their fortunes after a couple of poor results. Much of the same can be said about the visitors, who have been struggling for a while.
The Union occupy a pleasing position in the Eastern Conference, as they currently sit cosily in fourth, but their recent form hasn’t been great. Jim Curtin’s men arrive at this junction off the back of two games without a win, one of which they lost, while they have now won just one of their last six.
It’s not that they’ve been particularly bad at either end during that time, but they are struggling to get their noses in front, mainly because they have been finding it tough consistently to create more than their opponents, and even when they have, they have failed to capitalise.
Chicago have also been out of sorts in recent weeks, or rather for much of the campaign, which is why they sit second from bottom in the east. The visitors are without a win in three, two of which they have lost, while they’ve emerged victorious from only two of their last nine MLS fixtures. Each of those victories came at home, so the signs aren’t great ahead of this one.
Chicago have had numerous problems this season, but their biggest issue is perhaps their form away from home. On the road, the Fire have played five and lost five. They are the only team in Major League Soccer to have zero travelling points at this stage of the campaign. On a couple of occasions, Sunday’s visitors have been slightly unfortunate not to pick up a point, especially away against both Atlanta and D.C. United. Overall, they have deserved what they have got, mainly because they’ve found it tough to match their opponents for creativity, being bettered in terms of expected goals in four out of five away games.
Home is where the heart is
It has been a mixed bag for Philly in recent weeks, but at home, they’ve been very steady, so much so that they’ve won each of their last four at Subaru Park. They are now unbeaten in five at home. Without being overly exuberant, the Union have looked strong at home, keeping teams at bay, and regularly doing enough to get the job done.
Only one of the last four teams to visit this venue have got themselves on the scoresheet, which demonstrates that Curtin’s side have done a decent job of nullifying their opponents. Moreover, only one of Philadelphia’s last four visitors have produced more than two shots on target, which against tells us that the hosts have performed more than reasonably from a defensive standpoint.
Not a high-scoring fixture
When the pair met just over a month ago, the goals flowed, as they played out something of chaotic 3-3 draw, but we shouldn’t simply assume that more of the same will unfold in Chester, Pennsylvania on Sunday evening. Historically, at least in relatively recent times, this has been quite a low-scoring fixture. Only one of the last eight renewals of this game has produced more than three goals, while less than three goals have been scored in four of the last seven meetings between the Union and the Fire.
Go for a lack of goals in the betting
If you are looking for a side to support in this fixture, then the hosts are hard to oppose. They have offered considerably more at home than the visitors have on the road and are simply much more adept at getting a favorable result. However, at the prices, the better option appears to be ‘under 2.5 goals’.
One thing that stands out is Philadelphia’s tendency to keep the scoring on the low side at home. Four of their last six matches at Subaru Park have produced less than three goals. Moreover, they have only scored more than once in two out of seven at home this season, conceding more than once in just two of those seven too, plus they have conceded just two in their last five. Such stats point towards a lack of goals perhaps being more likely than the current odds suggest.
The fact that the pair shared six goals not that long ago may be a negative, but if we look at that fixture, we can see that it was probably just one of those days where everything goes in. After all, despite producing a combined total of six goals, Philly and Chicago shared just 2.2 expected goals, which indicates that the game really didn’t warrant six goals.
Staying on this subject, neither have been overly generous with their output this term, with the hosts averaging a modest 1.35 expected goals for at home and the visitors averaging 1.28 for on the road. These numbers further fuel a bet on a less than three goals being scored when the pair lock horns for the third time this season on Sunday. So this is the sole pick of our betting predictions for this MLS game preview: