(Photo credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports)
The Philadelphia Union will try to solve the puzzle that is Los Angeles FC on Saturday when the teams meet in a 2022 MLS Cup rematch at Chester, Pa.
The Union (14-8-6, 48 points) dropped a thriller to host LAFC on penalty kicks in last year's title match after the score was tied 3-3 in regulation time.
The sides met for the first time this year on April 26 in CONCACAF Champions League play, with the host Union giving up a goal in second-half stoppage time for a 1-1 draw. Six days later at Los Angeles, LAFC earned a convincing 3-0 victory in MLS play.
LAFC have never lost in the all-time series, winning five times with two ties in MLS play. The two meetings hosted by the Union have ended in ties.
Since Leagues Cup play was completed, Philadelphia has earned points in four of five matches (2-1-2) and sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with six contests remaining. They already have qualified for the playoffs with Wednesday's 2-2 draw at Charlotte FC.
Daniel Gazdag, who leads the Union with 13 goals, tied it from the penalty spot in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time.
"With six games left to be already in the playoffs now is a good thing," Union head coach Jim Curtin said. "But this group obviously wants more. We want to finish top-four and push as we can to get as many home games as possible."
LAFC (12-9-8, 44 points) have looked less dominating than in previous seasons but appear to be finding their playoff form. They earned a 4-2 win against the rival Los Angeles Galaxy last Saturday and had a standout defensive performance in a scoreless draw at first-place St. Louis FC on Wednesday.
Before those results, the defending champions were on a three-match losing streak.
Denis Bouanga scored a pair of goals in the victory over the Galaxy and leads LAFC with 14 goals this season.
The Union are 9-1-3 at home this season, while LAFC are 0-4-2 in their last six road games.
"Both teams know each other very well and there shouldn't be any surprises," LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo said of Saturday's match. "It will be a hard game; it always is against them. ... We will field a team that is energetic and hungry to win on the road."
--Field Level Media