Jaap Stam shakes things up for FC Cincinnati while desperate Atlanta head to Nashville

The MLS takes the weekend off for the CONCACAF Gold Cup group stage, but there are still three big games this week.

These include Philadelphia and Nashville, two sides that are in the top four of the Eastern Conference.

Union, Red Bulls renew rivalry

Philadelphia Union head to the Red Bull Arena to finish a three-game road trip against the New York Red Bulls.

The Union won the first match-up of the season between these long-time rivals back on May 15 at home 1-0. In the last 30 league games, RBNY have won 14, with the Union taking 11, with there having been five draws.

New York have won four straight home games this season, three of them 2-0, with the other being a 2-1 victory over Orlando City. They struggle away from home, but Thursday's contest starts a two-game home spell. Gerhard Struber returned to a 4-4-2 formation last week in Orlando and they picked up a rare away win as Fabio scored in the 79th minute.

The Philadelphia Union haven't won away from home since mid-May, with two draws and a defeat in their last three contests outside of Pennsylvania. Their biggest problem has been lapses in concentration as they allow too many goals from set pieces and struggle to play from behind. They conceded a goal in the second minute at Nashville last weekend and scored an own goal in the second minute at Chicago the previous game.

Planet Sport Bet have the Red Bulls at 11/8, with the Union at 15/8, and a draw at 12/5.

Atlanta United head to Nashville a desperate team

Gabriel Heinze made waves as he got off to a great start with Atlanta United in the CONCACAF Champions League in April, but this success has not translated into the MLS as the Five Stripes head to southern rivals Nashville on a six-game losing streak. Atlanta haven't scored in the last three games despite switching back to the 4-3-3 that gave them early season success.

Nashville, meanwhile, are enjoying a great run this season with only one loss from their first 11 games. After conceding two goals in three straight games though, they switched to a 3-5-1-1 formation and pulled off a 1-0 win against Philadelphia on Saturday. Nashville have four wins and four draws from eight home games and drew 2-2 in Atlanta in May.

According to Planet Sport Bet, Nashville SC are 4/7 home favourites, while a draw is 3/1Atlanta United are 9/2 to pull off the upset.

Cincinnati looking to knock off Crew

The final game before the Gold Cup break will be Friday night's Hell is Real Derby between FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew.

The teams have met six times in MLS action since FCC joined the league, with Columbus holding a 3-2-1 (W-D-L) advantage. The Orange and Blue are on a rare three-match unbeaten run, with wins over Chicago Fire and Toronto FC preceding Saturday's 1-1 draw at Houston Dynamo.

A change in formations by manager Jaap Stam has saved FC Cincinnati's season after they conceded plenty of goals early on. In a 4-4-1-1 to start the season, they were outscored 13-4 and picked up one point from four games. In a 3-5-2, they were 1-1, but since moving to a 4-3-3, they have bagged seven points and conceded just three goals in four games.

Columbus rallied from two goals down to draw against first-place New England on Saturday but they have not won in their last three games. Their depth isn't nearly as good as expected, with injuries to Bradley Wright-Phillips, Artur and Kevin Molino testing the side. Seven of their eight goals have come from Gyasi Zardes and Lucas Zelarayan, with nobody else really stepping up.

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