Atlanta United: 3 questions about Philadelphia

Atlanta United is in seventh in the East with 35 points from 23 games following Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at D.C. United. Philadelphia is in ninth the East with 30 points from 26 games following Wednesday’s 3-0 loss at Toronto.

Only the top six teams in each conference will advance to the playoffs. 

Montreal is in sixth place with 36 points from 24 games.

Jonathan Tannenwald has covered soccer for various outlets since 2003, and for the Philadelphia Inquirer since 2010. He answered three questions ahead of Saturday’s game:

Q: When the Union play well, what works for them?

 A: C.J. Sapong scoring would be the the biggest sign that things are working. They have a very good deep central midfield duo in Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya, but there are a lot of holes between them and Sapong.

Q: When they play poorly, what isn't working?

 A: The lack of a true playmaking midfielder who can link the various parts of the field together is a glaring weakness. Ilsinho is the best possessor of the ball at the position, but isn't a natural No. 10 and isn't a natural shooter. Roland Alberg is definitely a shooter, but has zero assists this year.

Q: What's the key matchup?

 A: Tough to say, because I think Atlanta has a positional advantage over the Union everywhere except possibly goalkeeper. Which is not a slight on Brad Guzan so much as it is a statement of how great Andre Blake is. So I will say I'll be watching to see if Julian Gressel plays, because I think he and Union centerback Jack Elliott are the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.