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Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Chivas USA

Photo: Nicolae Stoian

Game time: Saturday, 8 p.m.

TV: 6abc

Philadelphia Union will aim to end a miserable week with a win against a Chivas USA squad that limps into Chester with one win in its last six matches.

Chivas (4-6-5), which plays in Los Angeles (for those unaware), dropped a tough 2-1 loss last week against Dallas, thanks to two killer assists by former Union midfielder Andrew Jacobson, including one in the 85th minute. But overall, this is a better team than the hapless one fielded last season, in large part because new coach Robin Fraser has instilled a new attitude and put together a more competitive team. Despite the losing record, the team’s goal differential is zero, which is what the Union’s would be if not for the Toronto blowout.

Fraser has been rotating his lineup to keep players fresh, but key to the improvement has been the play of the team’s three primary forwards, Justin Braun, Marcos Mondaini,  and Alejandro Moreno, who have three goals apiece. Moreno has been a revelation since leaving the Union in the expansion draft, scoring three goals on just 15 shots and handing out two assists. (Meanwhile, his former strike partner, Sebastien Le Toux, has struggled in his absence, and it’s become very, very clear just how important Moreno’s holdup play and leadership was to the Union last year, now that he’s gone.) Braun is the class of the group though, the potential superstar in the making, a big, strong and fast player with national team potential.

In the midfield, Rutgers alum Nick LaBrocca has drastically improved his play since coming over from Toronto FC to play attacking midfielder, while second-year player Ben Zemanski has become a lineup staple, starting every game till last week against Dallas. Behind them, Heath Pearce has anchored the defense since moving to center back upon arriving via trade from Dallas, and Pennsylvania native and former AC Reading United player Zarek Valentin has been getting regular time at left back. Goalkeeper Dan Kennedy replaced Zach Thornton in goal and seems to have locked down the job. For the most part, Fraser has juggled the back line all season, with top center back Jimmy Conrad injured most of the year.

As for the Union —

We have no new insights on the Union. You know the drill as well as we do. Predicting their lineup is guesswork. Understanding their midfield pairings is like trying to explain the logic of silly puddy. (Yes, I just channeled Adam Cann’s sense of humor there.) We won’t even go into the strikers, because you and we have said it plenty of times already.

Let’s just say the Union (6-4-5) have one of the league’s best back five, some good midfielders who don’t play enough, a very controversial situation at striker, and a coach who tinkers with lineups like a mad scientist. Now that we’ve summed up the team, we’ll spare you the repetition.

Probable starters


Goalkeeper: Faryd Mondragon

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

Midfielders: Veljko Paunovic, Brian Carroll, Amobi Okugo, Justin Mapp

Forwards: Carlos Ruiz, Sebastien Le Toux

Chivas USA

Goalkeeper: Dan Kennedy

Defenders: Zarek Valentin, Michael Umana, Heath Pearce, Michael Lahoud

Midfielders: Jorge Flores, Nick LaBrocca, Ben Zemanski, Simon Elliott

Forwards: Justin Braun, Alejandro Moreno

Injuries and suspensions

Philadelphia – OUT: GK Thorne Holder (illness); QUESTIONABLE: MF Amobi Okugo (L ankle sprain); MF Gabriel Farfan (R quad strain); PROBABLE: FW Danny Mwanga (R knee contusion).

Chivas USA – DOUBTFUL: DF Jimmy Conrad (concussion); PROBABLE: MF Ben Zemanski (L quad strain)


The Union draw 1-1. This team is limping, in large part because of the lineups deployed by manager Peter Nowak the last two games. If he goes the logical route and deploys his best 11-man lineup (Le Toux – Mwanga, Mapp/Daniel – Carroll – Nakazawa – either Farfan, same back 5), the Union should win. But it’d be wishful thinking to predict that. We may have to introduce a new feature to replace “Probable Lineups.” We’d call it “Logical Lineups.” For the Union, the two would likely seldom overlap.


  1. Given how things have been going as of late, “Logical Lineups” makes sense. It has a nice ring to it, too! 🙂

  2. Love it; well said!

  3. I feel a double doop kinda weekend coming!!! Union 2-0 winners…Le Toux scores from open play…twice!!! Please?!?!

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