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Match preview: Union at FC Dallas

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Game time: Saturday, 8:30 p.m.

TV: The Comcast Network (TCN)

The Union need to break out of this traveling funk. Strong performances in the friendly confines of PPL Park have kept the Union near the top of the Eastern Conference. Poor showings at Portland and LA threaten to become a pattern when Philadelphia travels to mid-table Dallas (4-3-2) on Saturday.

Head coach Schellas Hyndman closed the media out of practice after his team exhibited little fight in a goalless tie with DC United last weekend, and he was rewarded with a strong 1-0 win over Toronto FC on Wednesday. Captain Daniel Hernandez scored from the spot to get his first goal since 2002.

Without 2010 MVP David Ferreira (injured after a strong start), Dallas needed to find a new identity. Undefeated in May, it appears they are battling, grinding squad with skill players ready to pounce on any mistakes. Remind you of anyone?

Rolling out a strong 4-4-2, Dallas is at their best when they are in possession and their talented wide players are driving at the defense. After moving into the back four against DC United, Brek Shea and his new contract extension returned to the midfield for the Toronto match. Containing the young playmaker is a responsibility likely to fall on Keon Daniel’s or Kyle Nakazawa’s shoulders. With Ferreira out, the Union may be able to maintain a more offensive look to their midfield. Nakazawa or Amobi Okugo will likely pair with Brian Carroll in the middle.

Dallas has good speed up top and on the wings. Fabian Castillo will attempt to isolate Danny Califf while standouts Jackson Goncalves and Zach Lloyd will wear the grass thin with runs out of the back. Both teams will attempt to pin back the other side’s defenders or risk being run out of the building. As good as Lloyd and Jackson can be, Sheanon Williams can match their pace and stamina.

Of course, the biggest story will be Andrew Jacobson. The former Philly man has established himself in the Dallas midfield as a tough, mobile player with moments of brilliance on the ball. He had trouble getting an extended run in the middle for the Union but that is where he will trot out for Dallas, likely lining up against the man brought in to replace him, Brian Carroll.

Oh yeah, and any traveling fans will have a chance to wave to Chris Seitz. He will be the guy on the bench. (Seriously though—congrats to Seitzy for landing on his feet in Dallas. Still plenty of time left to build a career).

The Union need at least a point from their visit to Pizza Hut Park, but Dallas will argue that their good run of home form is more than enough to deal with Philadelphia’s sputtering offense.

Probable starters

Philadelphia

Goalkeeper: Faryd Mondragon

Defenders: Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams

Midfielders: Sebastien Le Toux, Brian Carroll, Kyle Nakazawa, Justin Mapp

Forwards: Danny Mwanga, Carlos Ruiz

FC Dallas

Goalkeeper: Kevin Hartmann

Defenders: Jackson Goncalves, George John, Igu Ihemelu, Zach Lloyd

Midfielders: Marvin Chavez, Andrew Jacobson, Daniel Hernandez, Brek Shea

Forwards: Bobby Warshaw, Ruben Luna

Injuries and Suspensions

Philadelphia: OUT: Thorne Holder, GK (concussion). QUESTIONABLE: Stefani Miglioranzi, MF (right groin strain). PROBABALE: Gabe Farfan, MF (left hamstring strain); Faryd Mondragon, GK (groin strain).

Dallas: OUT: Edson Edward, MF (right knee ACL tear); David Ferreira, FW (right ankle); Jair Benitez, DF (left knee); Maykel Galindo, FW (left plantar fascia strain); Milton Rodriguez, FW (IT band syndrome). PROBABLE: Bruno Guarda, MF (right hip flexor strain)

Prediction

1-1. If the Union put out a central pairing with attacking intent, they should be able to generate chances against Dallas. The almost champs have been vulnerable when pressed. They have been dangerous when their wide players are given space to operate. The Union played thirty minutes of awful soccer, thirty minutes of good soccer, and 30 minutes of dominant soccer against LA. They have yet to put a good 90 minute performance together on the road. They will need to make it happen on Saturday to find any points in Texas.

3 Comments

  1. 2-0 Union

    • 1-0 Union. Even when they’re clicking this version of Dallas has no firepower. Our back 4 are too strong for them right now.

      Sadly Ruiz will start and ruin the offense. Mwanga will rescue the result again, whether he starts or comes off the bench.

      • Unfortunately, I agree with your Ruiz point. I hope your score prediction is right, and I don’t care who scores the goal if it gets Union 3 points.

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