Major League Soccer’s matchup of the weekend features the top team in the East and a team looking to get above the playoff line in the West.
Philadelphia Union at Real Salt Lake, Saturday, 10 p.m. ET
MLS free pick: Philadelphia
Real Salt Lake enters this matchup desperate for a win to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but its recent form has been up and down, at 2-2-1 in its last five matches. As we enter the back half of the season, points will be essential for RSL to move up in the standings. RSL needs more offensive production, with May 11 the last time the team put more than two goals on the board. That won’t get it done in a conference that is all about scoring goals. Salt Lake is at home, though, where it is 6-2-0 this season. RSL will rely on Sam Johnson and Albert Rusnak to provide some scoring power, as they have all year.
The Philadelphia Union sits in first place in the Eastern Conference, five points clear of D.C. United, and has picked up points in four of its last five matches (2-1-2). The Union has the ability to score in bunches, including on the road. Kacper Przybyłko has scored nine goals on the season, while Jamiro Monteiro, Ilsinho and Paris Medunjanin have combined to set up 18. This team will need to keep that creativity going in the middle against RSL, who will try to hunker down, weather the storm and react with counter attacks. Philly has the possession and the creativity to outlast RSL if it plays smart and avoids careless mistakes on the back line.
The Union will press the issue against RSL and assert that pressure early and often. Expect Przybylko to be a goalscorer (+175) and the Union to win by two goals (+725).
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