Monday, December 5, 2022
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MLS Eastern Conference Finals Preview: New York City FC at Philadelphia Union

The Union and New York City FC will meet in the Eastern Conference Final for the second straight year after NYCFC defeated Philadelphia, 2-1, en route to winning the club’s first MLS Cup. This will be the first conference final/conference semifinal rematch from the previous season since D.C. United beat the Crew in three straight East Finals from 1997 to 1999.

The Union won both regular season meetings with New York City FC this season, recording a 2-0 road win on March 19 and a 2-1 home win on June 26. The wins were the first consecutive victories Philadelphia has ever recorded against NYCFC as they had won just three of the previous 13 matches (D1 L8, including playoffs) prior to this season.

The Union enter the Eastern Conference Final on a 10-match winning home streak culminating with a 1-0 victory over FC Cincinnati in the Conference Semifinals. With a win, the Union would equal the longest single-season home winning streak (including playoffs) in MLS history, an 11-game run by the Galaxy in 2011 that ended with a Conference Final win over Real Salt Lake.

The Union’s victory over FC Cincinnati on Thursday was the fourth time they’ve advanced to the MLS Cup Playoffs, but the first time they’ve won a match in regulation. The Union needed extra time to beat the Red Bulls in the first round in 2019 and 2021 while it took a penalty shootout to see off Nashville in last season’s Conference Seminfinal.

New York FC enters the Eastern Conference Final having won five straight matches, including a 3-1 victory over CF Montreal in the Conference Semifinal on Sunday. The five consecutive wins equals the longest streak in the club’s MLS history (5 straight from August-September 2019).

New York City FC’s 3-1 win in Montreal on Sunday was its fifth consecutive road playoff game without defeat (W2 D3, including 2 penalty shoot-out wins and 1 penalty shoot-out loss). NYCFC’s run equals the Timbers from 2015-18 for the second longest road unbeaten run in the MLS playoffs since the elimination of the breakaway shootout in 2000, with a chance to equal the Galaxy’s league record six straight from 2005-12 on Sunday.

Leon Flach scored his first goal of the season and the only goal of the game in the Union’s Conference Semifinal win over Cincinnati on Thursday. It was the 50th MLS goal scored at home by the Union this season, the sixth team in league history to hit that mark (including playoffs) with Flach becoming the 11th player different Union player to score at least one of those goals.

Maxi Moralez scored the opening goal for New York City FC in its 3-1 win over CF Montreal on Sunday. The goal was his fourth in the postseason for NYCFC, surpassing David Villa and Valentin Castellanos (3 each) for most in club history while his six playoff assists are also a club best. Since 2018, Moralez has been involved in more than half (10) of New York City FC’s 19 playoff goals.

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