The Lions have lost two of their last three fixtures to drop into third in the east, while the Union scored early and late against DC United for a 2-1 win.
Orlando have suffered their first real setback of the season, without a win in their last three fixtures, but with three games in just over a week beginning on Thursday, there is no time for them to feel sorry for themselves.
On Saturday one of the worst teams in MLS right now, Toronto FC, were a real handful for the Lions, who had to fight their way back from a goal behind, scoring with less than 20 minutes to play.
Oscar Pareja has seen his team miss a pair of opportunities to move up the table, gaining only one out of a possible six points against two struggling sides in Toronto and the Chicago Fire.
The Colombian coach is taking responsibility for their recent slide, criticising his game-planning and his ability to adapt during the course of a match.
He will need to get his tactics spot-on if he wants his team to move back into second place in the conference, as they battle a Philly team that they have not beaten since 2018, going winless in their previous three meetings against them.
The Union have been saving their best for last lately, scoring with seven minutes remaining to defeat the Black-and-Red on Saturday and finding an equaliser in the final 10 minutes in two of their three matches before that.
The Supporters' Shield winners from 2020 were clinical in the attacking third once again this past weekend, scoring with two of their four shots on target.
Manager Jim Curtin will be asking for more discipline from his side against a tough defensive unit in Orlando, with the Union tied for first in the league with Dallas, accumulating 32 yellow cards thus far.
When you look at the Philly schedule over the next few weeks, you realise that winning this game on Thursday could potentially put a lot of distance between themselves and the teams chasing them in the standings, as they follow up this game with matches against Inter Miami, the Chicago Fire and Toronto FC, all of whom are currently in the bottom three in the conference.
Philly seem to play just as good on the road as they do at home, losing only one of their seven fixtures outside of Subaru Park this year.
Orlando will be missing striker Alexandre Pato, who is still recovering from knee surgery, Antonio Carlos and Ruan both sat out of the last game with lower-body injuries, while Joao Moutinho played the full 90 minutes versus TFC after missing their previous three fixtures with a lower-body issue.
Striker Daryl Dike is with the United States at the Gold Cup and leads the team with two goals so far, while Nani surpassed Kaka and Dom Dwyer for the second-most goals in franchise history, scoring his 25th for the club from the penalty spot on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and midfielder Sebas Mendez returned to action for the Lions last weekend after both appearing in the Copa America for Peru and Ecuador respectively, but Mendez only lasted 14 minutes before sustaining an injury and being replaced by Andres Perea.
Orlando also made a roster move, signing left-back Emmanuel Mas from Boca Juniors for the remainder of the season with an option to re-sign in 2022.
Philly are without goalkeeper Andre Blake, defender Alvas Powell, and striker Cory Burke, who are all with the Jamaican national team at the Gold Cup. Meanwhile, Jack de Vries and Anthony Fontana are out due to concussion protocol, and Ilsinho continues to recover from his groin surgery.
Union centre-back Jack Elliott continues to be a force at the back after being named to the MLS Team of the Week for a third consecutive time, winning 90% of his duels against DC United and completing 83% of his passes with a team-high two blocks.
Backup keeper Matt Freese will miss his second successive match after being red-carded against the New York Red Bulls, while Dutch midfielder Jamiro Monteiro is suspended due to a series of yellow cards.
Orlando City possible starting lineup:
Gallese; Moutinho, Jansson, Hope-Gund, Smith; Rosell, Perea; Nani, Pereyra, Mueller; Akindele
Philadelphia Union possible starting lineup:
Bendik; Mbaizo, Findlay, Elliot, Wagner; Bedoya, Sullivan, Flach, McGlynn; Przybylko, Santos
We say: Orlando City 1-1 Philadelphia Union
Orlando have not faced a team currently in a playoff position in the Eastern Conference in quite some time, but when they have, they seem to be at the top of their defensive game, and now they have Pedro Gallese back in goal to bail them out if need be.
The Union have picked up three clean sheets on the road this year, but with the loss of Andre Blake to the Gold Cup, they have struggled, conceding five goals in their last three road fixtures.
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