Jim Curtin has called on others in Philadelphia Union’s squad to step up in the absence of suspended skipper Alejandro Bedoya against Orlando City SC.

Bedoya has played all but one of the Union’s 21 MLS matches this season, starting 19 of those, but he will miss out on Saturday due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

While the return of Jack Elliott after a two-game absence ensures Philadelphia are at full strength in defence, Curtin accepts he will need to plug the Bedoya void in midfield.

“Unfortunately, we will miss our captain in the next game which is difficult but it’s a chance for other guys to step up,” he said.

Asked about possible replacements, Curtin added: “We have different guys that can do it. You can put (Jack) McGlynn on that side and invert him to his left foot to get him on the ball.

“Quinn Sullivan obviously has played that side on the diamond for us as well. I think Daniel (Gazdag) could do it at a pinch and you can put Paxten (Aaronson) as the 10.”

The Union have won their past three matches, scoring 11 goals in the process, and lead the way at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Opponents Orlando are nine points further back in fifth after drawing back-to-back league games prior to going down 3-1 to Arsenal in a midweek friendly.

City have just a few days to prepare for the visit of Philadelphia, and head coach Oscar Pareja says that game was always going to take priority over facing Arsenal.

“I was happy to see a very enjoyable game for the fans against a fantastic rival,” he said. “A lot of good things happened to us and it was a good experience for the boys.

“We know that we have our heads in the league. We need to compete (against Philadelphia). We have our heads in the Open Cup semi-finals that is coming as well.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Orlando City – Mauricio Pereyra

Pereyra is Orlando’s chief creator from midfield, assisting nine MLS goals this term – only three others have more – and he also chipped in with a goal of his own last week.

The 32-year-old found the net in the 1-1 draw with Atlanta United to end his 14-month wait for an MLS Goal.

Philadelphia Union – Jack McGlynn

Homegrown player McGlynn started the 2-1 win over New England Revolution last week and is in line to feature again alongside Jose Martinez against Orlando.

Curtin was full of praise for the United States Under-20 international, who can play on either side of midfield in the Union’s 4-4-2 diamond, and he may now be in the side to stay.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– City have won only one of their last six matches against the Union (D3 L2) dating back to September 2018. Philadelphia kept clean sheets in the first two meetings, but Orlando have scored in all 12 since, which is their longest run of games with a goal against single foe in the club’s MLS history.

– Orlando are unbeaten in three straight matches for the first time this season (W1 D2), though the last two matches have ended in draws. The Lions won their most recent home match, 1-0 against Miami, though they have not won consecutive home games in nearly a year, since wins over Philadelphia and Atlanta in July 2021.

– Philadelphia have lost only two of their first 21 MLS matches this season (W10 D9), becoming the fifth team in MLS history to have just two defeats through 21 league games, joining Nashville SC last season, Los Angeles Galaxy in 2011, FC Dallas in 2010 and D.C. United in 2006.

– Pereyra scored Orlando’s lone goal against Atlanta, his first goal since May 2021. Pereyra recorded 18 assists in regular season games between his two goals. Only four players in the league had more assists in that time.

– Kai Wagner set up the Mikael Uhre equalising goal for the Union last week, his 10th assist of the season. Wagner is the first Union defender to reach 10 assists in a single league season.