MLS Cup Playoffs Picks: Philadelphia Union host FC Cincinnati

Karl Rasmussen
By , Updated on: Dec 19, 2023 07:00 PM
MLS Cup Playoffs Picks: Philadelphia Union host FC Cincinnati
  • What: 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs - Philadelphia Union vs. FC Cincinnati
  • When: Thursday, October 20, 2022 at 8:00 p.m. EST
  • Where: Subaru Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • How to watch: Fox Sports 1

In the second round of the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs, the Philadelphia Union will host FC Cincinnati. Philadelphia entered the playoffs with a first-round bye after finishing the year as regular-season champions out of the East. FC Cincinnati, the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, advanced to the second round after picking up an upset win over the New York Red Bulls. Before we dive into the action, make sure to take a look at our soccer betting guide in order to get all the info you need, as well as our MLS betting guide.

Philadelphia Union vs. FC Cincinnati Odds

Heading into the matchup, Philadelphia is favored on their home turf over FC Cincinnati, coming in with (-143) odds to win. FC Cincinnati are large underdogs at (+400) odds to win in regulation. The spread is set at -0.5 in favor of Philadelphia, while the goal total is set for 2.5 goals at -(120) for the over and +100 for the under. 

Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia was the top overall seed heading into the MLS Playoffs after finishing the regular season with 67 points and in first place in the Eastern Conference. Only LAFC matched their 67-point total on the season, and no team in the MLS scored more than the 72 goals Philly put in the net during the campaign. With a regular season record of 19 wins, 10 draws, and 5 losses, the Union were borderline unstoppable throughout the 34-game gauntlet.

The Union racked up a jaw-dropping goal differential of 46 goals. Not only did they pace the MLS with their 72 goals, but they also conceded the fewest number of goals in the league with 26. No other team in the MLS surrendered fewer than 30 goals. With those types of stats, it's hard to imagine any team being able to knock off Philadelphia, especially as they'll be playing at home for much of their playoff run. At Subaru Park, Philadelphia Union is unbeaten in its last 17 matches, presenting a formidable challenge for any team looking to stage an upset.

Led by the likes of goalscoring machines in Daniel Gadzag, Julian Carranza, and Mikael Uhre, Philadelphia have three of the league's top 20 scorers. Gadzag registered 19 goals in 33 league games, while Carranza logged 14 goals in 30 appearances and Uhre had 12 goals in 26 games. All three are goalscoring threats every night out on the pitch, and it would be surprising if at least one of the trio wasn't on the scoresheet on Thursday night.

Defensively, Kai Wagner and Jack Elliott lead the charge for Philadelphia, having been rocks in the defensive third. It takes a group working in perfect unison to surrender an average of fewer than one goal per game, and the Philadelphia Union defense has been exactly that in 2022. During their two meetings this season, Philadelphia won one and tied the other, outscoring Cincinnati 4-2. 

Philadelphia Union To beat FC Cincinnati
-143
BetOnline

FC Cincinnati

After picking up an important 2-1 win over the NY Red Bulls in round one of the MLS Cup Playoffs, FC Cincinnati have an even more difficult road matchup against Philadelphia. The odds fairly accurately represent FC Cincinnati's chances of winning the game at (+400), as they're up against the best team in the MLS. Still, having just pulled off an upset in the first round, FC Cincinnati will be eager to continue their surprise run through the playoff bracket.

While the odds are stacked against them, FC Cincinnati actually managed a draw against Philadelphia Union during their matchup at Subaru Park during the regular season. The 1-1 game was an outstanding effort from Cincinnati, as Brandon Vasquez's 37th-minute equalizer helped them secure the draw. They'll be hoping for a similar performance against Philadelphia on Thursday, and they'll need to be at their best in order to get anything out of the game.

With goals from Luciano Acosta and Brandon Vasquez against NY Red Bulls, FC Cincinnati will be looking to get Brazilian striker Brenner going in the Conference Semifinals. Brenner and Vasquez were Cincinnati's leading scorers during the regular season with 18 and 19 goals, respectively. They'll both be looking to sneak a goal past the stalwart Philadelphia defense, and it'll likely be necessary for them to be playmakers if the club wants any chance at advancing to the Conference Finals.

Cincinnati's main issues will come defensively. During the regular season, the club surrendered 56 goals, which was tied for the most among Eastern Conference Playoff teams. They allowed four goals in two games against Philly during the regular season, and they'll need to fare better defensively on Thursday if they're going to advance.

FC Cincinnati To beat Philadelphia Union
+400
BetOnline

The Pick

While the prospect of an FC Cincinnati upset at (+400) is enticing, we're going to back the favorites here and roll with the Philadelphia Union to get the job done on their home field. After their remarkable regular season, it's hard to see Philadelphia bowing out in their first playoff appearance. At (-140), the value on a Philadelphia win isn't bad at all, and we're expecting them to come out firing against a feeble Cincy defense. Philadelphia Union Money Line at (-140) is the pick for this matchup. 

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Meet the author

Karl Rasmussen

Karl Rasmussen leverages his journalism degree and passion for sports in his expert coverage of Major League Soccer (MLS) and fantasy leagues. Hailing from Denmark but a longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Karl brings an international perspective to his analysis...

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