HartfordAthletic will host its final home match of the regular season against the Philadelphia Union II today after facing each other on Sunday for the third time. In Sunday’s game, Hartford’s Alex Dixon and Ever Guzmán won the match to secure their placement in the USL Championship playoffs.
There isn’t much to play for aside from pride and trying to keep a good record this season. Pride is all Union II can really play for, given its tragic 2-8-2 record this season, while Hartford Athletic will look to add another win to its 8-3-1 record and narrow the gap with Pittsburgh Riverhounds to three points.
After rewatching Sunday’s fixture, fans could see a similar result being produced by the Boys in Green to finish their last home match on a high note. Philly, who has yet to win a match on the road, will have to seriously give it its all to get three points at Dillion Stadium. If their defense is similar to Sunday’s, they’re in big trouble. However, I’ll have to admit, Hartford didn’t play all that well and were fortunate for two of its goals. The reason I say this is because Philly’s defense was all over the place and couldn’t really manage to clear the ball well while Hartford had players at the right time to overturn possession. To compliment that, Hartford’s midfield area was simply a bit lackluster in comparison to what fans are used to seeing. In head coach Radhi Jaïdi’s defense, his choice of a 5-3-2 formation with Tyreke Johnson and Idan Cohen as wingers in the back was a much-needed precaution to secure their place in the playoffs.
Since Hartford will be playing at home, Radhi Jaïdi could go back to the 3-5-2 formation, but I think he should bring back the 3-1-4-2 form. Because the midfield wasn’t necessarily up to par on Sunday, the five I would pick to start, aside from Danny Barrera, are Justin Haak, Tyreke Johnson, Gabriel Torres and Mads Jørgensen. If they want to end their final home match of the regular season at home on a good note, they’re going to need the mixture of attacking and defensive midfielders to dominate Philly. Barrera’s proven himself to be lethal on crossing the ball far up the field, and if they want to mentally prepare themselves for Sunday’s clash against Pittsburgh, having someone able to create plays without pushing too far up is something Hartford can practice with in today’s match.
Hartford still shouldn’t underestimate Union because like in any other sport, anything is possible. My mission objective for Hartford is the same as last week’s preview against Union II: be aggressive but mindful, because being confident to grab another three points from a team that hasn’t had a good season can only take you so far into a match. After all, the last time Union II went to Dillon Stadium, they were quick to score two goals early in the match.