The Philadelphia Union have a Supporters’ Shield in the bag, but MLSsoccer.com’s Matt Doyle still holds reservations about them lifting the 2020 MLS Cup.
After Decision Day presented by AT&T wrapped up, Doyle revealed why he doubted this team back in preseason and why he’s not sure they can navigate through the Eastern Conference bracket, even as the No. 1 seed and with home-field advantage at Subaru Park.
“The reason I doubted this Union team is because I didn’t think they would have that top gear,” Doyle said. “I didn’t think they would have that top level that we see Toronto or Seattle hit, basically every year in the playoffs – the same level that we saw Atlanta hit a couple years ago when they won MLS Cup. They hit it a couple of times in the regular season, including this game [Sunday], but if you look at the history of the MLS playoffs, it’s Raul Ruidiaz, it’s Josef Martinez, it’s Jozy Altidore, it’s Nico Lodeiro, it’s Diego Valeri, it’s going back to Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
“So as fantastic as this team was, built for the Supporters’ Shield, built for the regular season, I’m going to reserve my right to doubt, once again, the Philadelphia Union as apex-level contenders in this MLS Cup. I still think in the MLS Cup Playoffs, I still think it’s Toronto and Seattle that are the favorites in their respective conferences. So if you guys win MLS Cup, feel free to play that clip, guys.”
While Doyle’s skeptical about the Union’s star power and ability to sustain the next level, Charlie Davies has more confidence in head coach Jim Curtin’s team. He points to the midfield trio of Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson and Jamiro Monteiro, plus the emergence of forward Cory Burke after his visa issues got sorted out. Davies also heaped praise on center back Mark McKenzie, reaffirming that he’s destined for Europe, and feels the potential return of Andre Blake from a hand fracture could be a game-changer.
Long story short? Davies sees an MLS Cup berth in Philadelphia’s future.
“You have Bedoya, Aaronson and Jamiro Monteiro – three-headed monster in the midfield, have really caused problems and then Cory Burke being that striker who’s going to push [Kacper] Przybylko and Sergio Santos to the next level because everybody wants to be on the pitch,” Davies said. “If you’re not finishing, guess who will? Cory Burke is ready, he’s tough to deal with. He’s not the cleanest player, he doesn’t have the best technique, but he can finish. He’s unorthodox.
“You throw in Andre Blake coming in in the second round of the playoffs, they are strong down the spine. I don’t see a team beating them in the East, and they play every game at home. They’re 9-0-0 at home this year, throw that into the mix as well. They aren’t losing, they’re going to MLS Cup.”
Whatever lies ahead, the Union await a Round One matchup against the lower seeded play-in winner on Nov. 21, 22, or 24. Check out the entire bracket here.