Match previews

Game Preview: Union vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Game Time: Saturday, 4 pm.

TV: 6abc.

The expansion Vancouver Whitecaps come to Philadelphia for the first ever home opener at PPL Park on Saturday. The talk this week out of the Union camp is that they aren’t treating Vancouver as an expansion side and have no intention of taking them lightly. Probably a good move as the Whitecaps thumped (an admittedly poor) Toronto FC team to the tune of 4-2 last week in their first ever MLS match. Vancouver designated player Eric Hassli led the charge with a brace and could prove to be a handful for the Union back line.

The Vancouver starting XI should look quite a bit different from last week’s win with defenders Jay Demerit (USA) and Michael Boxall (New Zealand) all set to miss out through international duty.  The question will be if the Union’s attack force can organize a bit more this week and create more chances coming forward, something they struggled with in the win against Houston.

Don’t look for major changes in the Union’s starting lineup, but there is a chance we might see Danny Mwanga step in for Kyle Nakazawa. Mwanga was a spark off the bench last week and gave a little more bite to the Union attack, while Nakazawa failed to make a huge impression as a starter. If Mwanga does step in, the Union could line up in something resembling a 4-3-3 with Mwanga, Ruiz and Le Toux (or Justin Mapp) as the three up top.

Former Union player and PSP favorite Shea Salinas is not traveling with the Whitecaps as he recovers from a knee sprain. Don’t worry Shea, the Union faithful would have given you a nice ovation, even if you returned as an opponent.

Probable Starters:

Goalkeeper:

Vancouver: Jay Nolly
Philadelphia: Faryd Mondragon

Advantage: Union. Captain Dragon was assured and confident in his first MLS game last week, posting a clean sheet without having to make too many saves. Nolly will start his tenth ever game in MLS and still has a lot to prove.

Defense:

Vancouver: Alain Rochat, Bilal Duckett, Greg Janicki, Jonathan Leathers.
Philadelphia: Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams.

Advantage: Union. Only Leathers has started more than 10 games in his career and this is almost an entirely new back four from last week for Vancouver. Valdes looked comfortable alongside Califf last week and there’s no reason to believe that the chemistry amongst the four won’t continue to grow this week.

Midfield:

Vancouver: Blake Wagner, Terry Dunfield, Gershon Koffie, Nizar Khalfan
Philadelphia: Brian Carroll, Stefani Miglioranzi, Justin Mapp

Advantage: Union. Early indications are that Philly will line up in a 4-3-3, so it could be an interesting battle in the midfield with Vancouver most likely having four in the middle of the park. But again, there’s not a lot of experience in the Vancouver side, with only Wagner having seen more than a few games of action in the MLS. Carroll and Migs will have to be more creative this week in getting the ball moving from the back up to the offense.

Forwards:

Vancouver: Atiba Harris, Eric Hassli
Philadelphia: Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz, Danny Mwanga.

Advantage: Tie. Mwanga, Le Toux, and Ruiz failed to have much chemistry last week, but there is a good chance they’ll see more service with Vancouver likely to sit further back on the pitch and defend in their first away match. Harris and Hassli proved themselves a handful against Toronto last week and could threaten on the counterattack.

Prediction:

Philadelphia 2 – 0 Vancouver. PPL Park is going be jumping at the prospect of the first home opener and the inexperienced Vancouver side will have difficulty keeping the hosts off the scoreboard.

6 Comments

  1. Union need to go for the throat early. An early goal could really unsettle this inexperienced Vancouver side and lead to a romp.

    The Union need to play with aggression and take people on. There should be chances galore and with Mwanga’s nose for goal, I’d love to see our young superstar get off the mark early in this one.

  2. I really, really wish we had a player named Leathers.

  3. Andy Dillon says:

    I’d like to see a diamond in midfield, instead of the empty bucket, and go for the jugular early and often:
    Mwanga——————-Ruiz
    ———–Le Toux———–
    Mapp——————-Torres
    ———–Carroll———–
    Harvey-Valdes-Califf-Williams
    ———-Mondragon———-

  4. Give me Mwanga or give me death! On board with Andy’s formation although I prefer to swap Le Toux and Torres since Le Toux gets back on defense better. I’d also like to see Jack Mac come on for Ruiz late.

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