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The 2023 Leagues Cup started really well for Philadelphia Union as they scored eight goals in their two group-stage games against Mexican clubs. They beat Club Tijuana 3-1 before walloping Queretaro FC 5-1. However, the team has kept its fans on the edge of their seats in the knockout stage as both their last games have been decided on penalties. Philadelphia Union beat DC United 5-4 on penalties in the first knockout round and then beat New York Red Bulls 4-3 in the shootout to set up a quarter-final tie against Queretaro FC.
Unlike their opponents, Queretaro FC’s Leagues Cup start was disastrous as they were at the receiving end of a 5-1 thumping against the team they are about to face next. However, in the next two games, they nabbed a couple of 1-0 wins over Liga MX counterparts Club Tijuana and Pumas UNAM. In the previous round, they caused one of the biggest upsets of the tournament as they eliminated American outfit and one of the tournament favorites, New England Revolution, after beating them 4-3 on penalties.
In the Leagues Cup 2023 quarterfinals, Philadelphia Union are backed by the best odds. There are many contributing factors to that, but the main one is the inconsistency of their opponents and the fact that they already beat Queretaro FC quite comfortably just about two weeks ago. Hence, Philadelphia Union are favorites to become the first team to qualify for the 2023 Leagues Cup semifinals.
Apart from the group-stage encounter between these two clubs, they have never met in any competitive club football game in the past.
In the group stage encounter, Daniel Gazdag scored a hat-trick, while Nathan Harriel and Jack McGlynn hopped onto the scoresheet for Philadelphia Union. The only goal Queretaro FC scored that night came via Raul Sandoval in the 84th minute when they were already 4-0 down.
Two out of Gazdag’s three goals came from the penalty spot. Statistically, the game was almost evenly balanced. Philadelphia Union attempted 12 shots, but Queretaro FC were not far behind as the Mexican club attempted nine shots.
Six out of the 12 shots were on target for Philadelphia Union, and five of them managed to fly past Alejandro Arana, who also gave away one of the penalties. Meanwhile, the Liga MX side managed to keep four of their shots on target, but only one beat Andre Blake.
It is no big secret that Philadelphia will be eager to nab another comfortable win in the next match. It will certainly benefit the American side as it will not only catapult them into the semi-finals but will also give them a regulation-time win for the first time after two matches.
A comfortable win will also set the tone for the final few fixtures. If Philadelphia Union win, they will take on either Inter Miami or Charlotte FC. Hence, there is a slight possibility that they could be up against a resurgent side powered by Lionel Messi.
This adds more value to the upcoming fixture. In addition to that, the Philadelphia Union will be eager to wrap their hands around their first-ever trophy. Hence, the determination of the side is expected to be at an all-time high as the tournament approaches its penultimate stage.
This season in the MLS, Philadelphia Union have played 11 matches at Subaru Park. They have won eight, drawn two, and lost only one game so far. In the league phase last season, they were undefeated at home all season.
In the Leagues Cup, they have kept that record intact. However, in the last two games, they have failed to clinch a convincing win. But, in any case, they have managed to dodge defeat at home in almost all games in all competitions.
Creativity Coming From A New Source
Since the start of the season, Philadelphia Union have relied on players like Alejandro Bedoya, Daniel Gazdag, and Jose Andres Martinez for creativity in midfield. Gazdag is also the club’s leading scorer this season so far.
However, in midfield, Jesus Bueno has made an unexpected impact. The midfielder has made 15 appearances in the MLS, most of which have been substitute appearances without any goal contributions. But, in the Leagues Cup, the Venezuelan has nabbed three assists in four games.
The new Apertura season of Liga MX started well for Queretaro FC as they beat Santos Laguna 2-0 on opening day. However, they failed to build on the win and lost 4-1 against Atletico de San Luis in the second match, about ten days before the start of the 2023 Leagues Cup.
In the previous Apertura season, the club finished at the bottom of the table after getting only one win in the entire season. In the Clausura phase, they bounced back and qualified for the playoffs. The only difference between the two phases was Queretaro FC’s ability to convert chances.
Being clinical in front of goal will solve more than half of Queretaro FC’s problems. Even in the last match against Philadelphia Union, they matched the American outfit statistically but could not place the ball into the back of the net.
Confidence Will Be High After Previous Win
Queretaro FC are playing on enemy territory against a club with a prolific record at home. However, the Mexican side was in a similar situation in the previous round but emerged victorious.
In the Round of 16, Queretaro FC faced New England Revolution at the Gillette Stadium – a venue where the hosts have not lost in the 12 games they have played there this season. The Mexican side held their ground for 90 minutes before snatching the win on penalties.
Queretaro FC started their Apertura phase with the new signing Guillermo Allison in goal. The Mexican club had struggled in the goalkeeping department for a long time, which is why they invested in the 32-year-old.
On his debut, Allison kept a clean sheet but has not featured since then. The last time Queretaro FC faced Philadelphia Union, Alejando Arana was in goal and had a horrid day. After that, Fernando Tapia stood between the sticks and got two consecutive clean sheets.
Tapia is expected to retain his position in goal and will have to put in the best performance of his career to keep the likes of Gazdag and Julian Carranza at bay.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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