As Crystal Palace prepare for their second friendly encounter of their American tour, NBC Sports reporter Joe Prince-Wright tells us what we can expect from Philadelphia Union tonight.
Jim Curtin is the Union’s interim boss, after former manager John Hackworth was sacked in June.
Philadelphia have struggled a little and have had the proverbial rollercoaster campaign, but still sit just outside the playoff places. Curtin, a former defender with the Chicago Fire and Chivas USA, will now try to lead the team into the post-season.
Curtin has been an assistant at the Union since 2012 when Hackworth was handed the job and stepped up following his dismissal.
Former Glasgow Rangers midfielder, Maurice Edu, has been leading the Union in recent games.
He is currently on loan in Philly from Palace manager Tony Pulis’ former club, Stoke City, but many expect him to make the move back to MLS permanent.
Initially Edu returned to America to bolster his chances of making the USA squad for the 2014 World Cup, making the initial 30-man roster but falling at the final hurdle.
A real box-to-box midfielder who is good on the ball and breaks up play, expect him and Mile Jedinak to have a tough battle in the middle of the park tonight.
Sebastian Le Toux. The man who was their leading scorer during the Union’s two inaugural seasons is back at PPL Park doing what he does best – scoring goals.
The Frenchman originally came to the USA to play for the Seattle Sounders, but was Philly’s main man when they entered the MLS in 2010.
After playing for the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps, Le Toux returned to the Union and had scored nine goals in 18 games at the time of writing earlier this month.
Style of Play
The Union have a vision to have a starting XI made up entirely of players from the Philadelphia area.
The Eastern Pennsylvania region has a great reputation for producing top soccer players – think of Philadelphia as Major League Soccer’s equivalent of Southampton.
With plenty of young players, they have some older heads around too with Connor Casey, Le Toux and Edu providing some valuable experience.
Playing in front of the fanatic “Sons of Ben” supporters group at PPL Park spurs the Union on – not to mention their stadium, which is one of the best in the MLS and probably has the best backdrop known to man.
D 1-1 v Chicago Fire
W 3-1 v New York Red Bulls
D 3-3 v Colorado Rapids
W 2-0 v New England Revolution
L 2-1 v FC Dallas
6th in MLS Eastern Conference
Follow Joe on Twitter: @JPW_NBCSports