Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. Union

Photo: Mikey Reeves

Who: Philadelphia Union (11th place, 16 points, 4-7-4) vs. D.C. United (10th place, 18 points, 5-8-3)
What: 2017 regular season game
Where: Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, Pa.
When: Saturday, June 24 at 7 pm
Watch: TCN, MLS Live, Direct Kick
Whistle: Kevin Stott; Kermit Quisenberry and Craig Lowry; Sorin Stoica

The Eastern Conference’s cellar dwellers meet for the third time this season. Philadelphia Union and D.C. United both desperately need three points to quickly stave off their current slumps and retain a faint sliver of postseason hope. The two previous games between the teams have been awkward, messy affairs, including a 2-1 D.C. win punctuated by the Union’s defensive turnovers and a 4-0 stomping by Philadelphia triggered by an incredibly dumb red card. The rubber match will likely see more of the same as both teams are desperate for an end to their early summer slumps.

Projected D.C. lineup


Scouting report: D.C. United

Before last night’s win over Atlanta, D.C. simply could not get the ball in the back of the net, revealed by some galling stats: Just one goal in the prior seven matches (and it was a PK), two wins in their last ten games, and just four assists (as a team!) all year. Yikes.

Last night in RFK, D.C. got back in the winning column by jumping on some egregious defensive errors by Atlanta, while holding steady against the expansion team’s terrific counter attacks.

D.C.’s offensive problems are not solved by one good showing and are not wholly different from the Union’s own struggles. A fledgling defense and overran midfield simply can’t hold the ball and dictate the game whatsoever. Enigmatic, though talented, midfielder Luciano Acosta is often stranded at the top of the midfield triangle or goes about wandering all over the pitch to kick shins/look for the ball. In short, the team has been playing scattered and on their heels, leaving their best player without ample opportunity to dictate the game.

When Acosta can get on the ball in space – typically, in the fracas after turnovers when D.C. thrives – defenders gravitate to him and open up the field for his wing counterparts with mixed results. When Acosta, perhaps wisely, goes alone, he can be a deadly finisher. Now that Patrick Nyarko is back from injury and Acosta is not the lone creative force, expect the United attack to pick up.

  • Injury report: Out – Rob Vincent (left meniscus), Nick DeLeon (lower abdominal strain), Sean Franklin (hamstring), Patrick Mullins (knee surgery), Bobby Boswell (groin)
  • Suspended: None

Projected Union lineup

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

In 2017, the Union have either been very hot or very cold. Whether it’s the never-ending winless streak to start the season, the little run of good form and consecutive shutouts, or the current return to the abyss, the Union have been maddeningly inconsistent.

Jim Curtin indicated in his midweek press conference that Alejandro Bedoya will be returning to at least the 18 and most likely the starting lineup. Bedoya’s return should help shore up the Union’s troubling return to their early season struggles. Bedoya’s absence cutting out opponents’ attacks and setting up Haris Medunjanin was on full display in both of the most recent matches versus the New York clubs. Medunjanin especially struggled against the Red Bulls, where he was pinned in the Union’s own half by the high press. Bedoya should help alleviate that pressure.

On defense, Oguchi Onyewu and Jack Elliott (and really the entire backline) will look to save face after letting Red Bull attackers drift behind them without consequence throughout the second half. Acosta likes to sneak around just above the 18 and it will take real communication and organization by whoever starts for the Union to track United’s runners. And as D.C. loves to capitalize on defensive miscues, the onus will be on Andre Blake and his defenders to be prudent with the ball.

  • Injury report: Out – Fabian Herbers (right abductor); Questionable – Alejandro Bedoya (left hamstring strain), Brian Carroll (lumbar)
  • Suspended: Derrick Jones (red card)
Key matchup

Oguchi Onyewu vs. Luciano Acosta

Gooch is terrific at stepping up and snuffing out attacks before they become dangerous. Acosta is a tricky and manipulative attacker who can pull defenders out of position and punish them with quick dribbling and a powerful shot. Onyewu will have to be disciplined and alert for Acosta popping up in space and pouncing on errors.

Player to watch

Chris Pontius

Chris Pontius needs to get the monkey off his back and bag a goal. After two poorly-taken chances last week, Pontius will have a ripe opportunity to stamp his name on the stat sheet versus his former club. Taylor Kemp has given the Union fits recently so it will be up to Pontius to own the left flank and open up the field – and his 2017 account.

Prediction: Philadelphia 1-0 D.C. United

If the Union can cut out the defensive errors, they should be able to stifle D.C.’s struggling attack and create some dangerous goal-scoring opportunities. The question is whether they’ll be able to put one or two away.

13 Comments

  1. Optimism? Cool.
    .
    If Bedoya is still hurt, that means Creavalle starts? Nyarko remembered how to score last night.

    3-1 loss.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Come on Mr. Negativity. There are like 3 teams in MLS I feel like the Union can/should beat currently… DC is one of them. For the record, I think the other two are: Montreal and maybe Minnesota. 2-1 Union

      • scottymac says:

        Not negative, looking at it like I was betting on the game. They haven’t shown a propensity to score goals going forward from the run of play. Have they put together a few performance? Yes. And they’ve also been shutout 5 times in 15 matches. They’ve only scored 2 or more goals in six matches. It’s not negative to believe the last place team isn’t good.
        .
        Also, Minny is much more dangerous than maybe you’ve given them credit for.

      • Can’t really argue with what you said… I’m too much of a homer sometimes. Realistically, you are right. Every single game for the Union is a crap shoot. You rarely know what team you’re gonna get

  2. We already know what Curtin is, but how he handles Pontius says it all.

    Rosenberry has a couple of bad games, he is gone.

    Pontius has a couple of bad games, he is one of the first names penned in.

    Curtin plays favorites and is too slow to make adjustments.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Agreed. The Rosenberry situation is getting very concerning. Two thoughts: why can’t he win his job back? And why won’t Curtin give him the chance to show if he’s up for it in a meaningful game?

  3. With D.C. Likely to get all their chances on turnovers it would be a great game to bring in someone else for Fabinho.

    • Fabinho is another issue I have with Curtin. Fabinho is a great guy and blah blah, but one the field he is such a enigma. Most of the time he doesn’t look like he is in control of his own body, and any offensive positives are wiped out by defensive mistakes and blunders.

      I would be rotating Wijnaldum at LB MUCH more often.

  4. DC Union…

  5. I saw them play and beat Atlanta the other night. If they play like that on Saturday then we’ll lose for sure.

  6. el Pachyderm says:

    I wish I wish I wish upon a team of young and upcoming players that are cellar dwellers. This I could get behind. As it is they are a team averaging almost 30 years in age players residing in the basement. A big What the Fuck if you ask me.

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