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Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Game time: Saturday, 8:00pm ET


Freddy Adu and Peter Nowak are not the only reunion on tap for this weekend as former Union midfielder Andrew Jacobson and goalkeeper Chris Seitz return to PPL Park for the first time since leaving the club. Both will feature off the bench for Schellas Hyndman’s Hoops, who sit second in MLS with 42 points behind the LA Galaxy’s 48.

In three tries, the Union have never defeated Dallas. But with news that US international Freddy Adu has joined the Union to fill the much needed attacking center midfield role, the Union will be full of confidence and energy come kick off. This contrasts greatly with a Dallas team that, despite having this week off, has endured a logjam of fixtures of late between MLS, the US Open Cup and the CONCACAF Champions League.

While the Union will introduce Freddy Adu, who has been in Philadelphia all week training with the National Team, Dallas will likely include their own new central midfield signing Daniel Cruz, who will be familiar to many of the Union players given that the Colombian playmaker, who played the majority of his career in Belgium after coming out of the famous Ajax academy, began his career with America de Cali, the same club who produced Roger Torres and Carlos Valdes in the town where Faryd Mondragon grew up.

With Adu’s insertion into the lineup and Michael Farfan’s continued strong play off the bench, the time is near when the Union coaching staff will have hard choices with a four man striker rotation. On the weekend though, they will likely stick with Le Toux coming out of the midfield. Following his exciting performance and first goal of the season, Jack McInerney should get the call alongside Veljko Paunovic, who played his best game in a Union shirt against Houston.

FC Dallas is a well-organized side who follows the example of strength and leadership set by hard man and holding midfielder Daniel Hernandez. Dallas is one of the elite MLS programs because they have the ability to be more than simple roughnecks, combining excellent ball movement and speed with their steely approach to the game. Lately, the Union have been too keen to let teams dictate play to them. But with an attacking talent like Adu linking with one of MLS’ best holding midfielders in Brian Carroll, the Union finally have a central midfield pairing that can reverse recent fortunes and fight back against the other elite midfields in the league.

Key Matchups

Sheanon Williams vs. Brek Shea

These two are worth the price of admission on their own and their cat and mouse game will continue for 90 minutes on Saturday as each player will try to pin the other back with aggressive runs forward. Shea showed his electric combination of brute force and delicate power for the National Team on Wednesday, but Sheanon Williams is not one to back down from the challenge. Even if Sebastien Le Toux is out right to offer support, Williams will be happy to engage Shea one-on-one to determine who wins that flank. This matchup is made all the more important because in Shea and Marvin Chavez, who will be marked by Gabriel Farfan on the left, Dallas runs its offense through its wingers, with the central midfielders serving more as ball winners than creators.

Jack McInerney vs. George John

George John is a typical oversized MLS centerback who earns his money by battling with other big dumb animals (see Casey, Conor and Ching, Brian). Quickness—John’s weakness—is Jack McInerney’s strength and the Union will look to play the ball in behind the Dallas defense, where McInerney can pounce. While Dallas may try to move John onto the more physical Veljko Paunovic or Danny Mwanga, McInerney should continue to take the play to whatever side of the field John chooses to cover. Known for his bad temper and occasionally clumsy feet, if the Union can rattle him early, they may find the pipeline to goal runs directly threw the heart of the pitch.

Probable starters

Philadelphia: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Faryd Mondragon

Defenders: Gabriel Farfan, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams

Midfielders: Justin Mapp, Freddy Adu, Brian Carroll, Sebastien Le Toux

Forwards: Jack McInerney, Veljko Paunovic

Dallas: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Kevin Hartman

Defenders: Zach Loyd, George John, Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez

Midfielders: Marvin Chavez, Daniel Hernandez, Daniel Cruz, Brek Shea

Forwards: Maicon Santos, Ricardo Villar

Injuries and suspensions

Philadelphia – QUESTIONABLE: MF Kyle Nakazawa (illness); FW Levi Houapeu (L ankle strain); PROBABLE: DF Sheanon Williams (lower leg contusion)

Dallas – OUT: DF Edson Edward (R knee ACL tear); MF David Ferreira (R ankle); FW Maykel Galindo (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Andrew Jacobson (L knee); DF Jackson (R ankle); DF Ugo Ihemelu (concussion)


Union 2–1 Dallas. Following the high of playing with the National Team, Brek Shea will struggle to replicate that emotion against the Union and his play, along with that of the rest of the Dallas midfield, will struggle to create chances against the stout Union backline. It will be the Union with all the energy following the signing of Freddy Adu and he, alongside McInerney, Paunovic, Le Toux and Mwanga will crash down in waves that Dallas will not be able to keep out. The Union will score the all-important second goal and Le Toux will end the curse.


  1. Hope the U can win. But I don’t think they will if Mapp starts. He got toasted by Dallas last game because he doesn’t try on defense.

  2. Not as optimistic, Dallas 2-0…union has yet to beat a team better than themselves, don’t see that changing this weekend. Also would be surprised to see Adu start. I hope I’m wrong with both…

  3. this a very optimistic view Eli, a surprising view from you. As much as I hope this happens, I do not see the U winning this one, most likely they will come out with 1 point. I feel Shea will dominate on the wing because Mapp will not help at all once again. I do have a strange feeling that Le Toux will be the goal scorer though.

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