Match previews

Match preview: D.C. United vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: 215Pix

Who: Philadelphia Union (1st place, 36 points, 10-6-6) vs. D.C. United (3rd place, 36 points, 9-6-9)
What: 2019 regular season game
Where: Audi Field, Washington D.C.
When: Sunday, August 4th, 7:30 p.m.
Watch: FS1, Fox Sports Go
Whistle: Referee: Armando Villarreal, Assistant Referees: Corey Parker, Logan Brown, 4th Official: Robert Sibiga, VAR: Ricardo Salazar

After another disappointing result at Montreal last weekend, the Philadelphia Union look to bounce back against Eastern Conference foes D.C. United in their only nationally televised match of the season. The Union were slightly shorthanded last weekend, with Jamiro Monteiro and Kai Wagner missing due to injury and suspension respectively. The good news is Wagner is set to return to action this weekend, while Monteiro is a possibility after returning to training on Wednesday.

This match has major implications at the top of the Eastern Conference, where the Union have a 3 point lead on D.C. heading into the match. D.C. has struggled to find goals recently, especially during a 0-0 draw in Chicago last weekend. It will be interesting to see if the D.C. attack or Union defense find stability that is needed to win and keep pace with the rest of the eastern conference.

Scouting report: D.C. United 

D.C. have struggled to find goals in recent matches, the last time they scored was three weeks ago when they put four goals past Cincinnati. In their past four matches, D.C. has a record of 1-1-2 for five points. Their lone loss came at Atlanta, where their scoreless streak began. They then traveled to a struggling Chicago side and again were held scoreless, gaining a point in a 0-0 draw. Last season, the D.C. attack enjoyed an added boost from Wayne Rooney and the opening of Audi Field. The question that remains for D.C. is if that form displayed last season was a fluke, or are they just in a prolonged lull right now. For the struggling Union defense, they will hope that D.C. stays in their attacking lull to regain confidence after last weeks poor showing at Montreal.

For the casual soccer fan, the unquestioned star of D.C. United is former England international Wayne Rooney. The 33-year-old seems to not have slowed down in his older age, scoring some highlight-reel goals in his brief stay in D.C. A lesser-known star running the attack for United is Luciano Acosta. The 25-year-old Argentine was linked with a move to PSG in the winter, and has shown flashes of his brilliance during United’s attacking woes. Another star that D.C. has is their goalkeeper, Bill Hamid. After starting with his career with United, he briefly went to play in Denmark, but returned to D.C. shortly after. Hamid looks to shine in MLS as he tries to make a case for a USMNT roster spot.

Much like the Union, D.C. has not looked like themselves in recent matches. Will a struggling Union defense by the answer to United’s offensive struggles? Or will D.C. change formations to find answers? In Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game, Wayne Rooney did play as an attacking midfielder, not at his usual starting spot at striker. The Union should be weary of D.C’s speed, something that Montreal was able to use effectively in last weekend’s defeat.

Injury report:

OUT: Russel Canouse (M), Oniel Fisher (D)

DOUBTFUL: None
QUESTIONABLE: None
Suspension report: None
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

The big question for the Union is how healthy Jamiro Monteiro is and how long he will play, if he even plays at all. It will be interesting to see if Jim Curtin makes any switches, with Brenden Aaronson, Auston Trusty, and Ray Gaddis struggling recently and options on the bench pushing for time. Defensive chemistry should also be something the Union should be looking to improve. The addition of Kai Wagner should be able to help, but stronger performances are needed from every member of the defense and goalkeeper Andre Blake.

It will be interesting to see who Curtin picks as his starting strikers. Will we continue to see the pairing of Fafa Picault and Kacper Przybylko, or see Andrew Wooten start? Przybylko and Picault were not very effective last time out, but Przybylko did come close ringing the post. Picault also should bring more energy to the Union press as Wooten still looks to gain fitness. Anthony Fontana should also feature off the bench, or even start, after some strong showings off the bench and seeing his playing time gradually increase in recent weeks.

Defensive chemistry and goalkeeping are two things the Union should be looking to improve on this week. If they are able to keep D.C. off the board, it can do great things for their confidence and propel them to keep pushing in the east. While Andre Blake is a great goalkeeper, he has let in some soft goals in the past few weeks. Blake needs to show his stardom and come up with some big saves for his defense for the Union to stay in first place.

Injury report

OUT: Matt Freese (GK), Sergio Santos (F), Olivier Mbaizo (D)

QUESTIONABLE:  Michee Ngalina (F), Jamiro Monteiro (M)

Suspension report: None
Key matchup: D.C. attack vs. Union defense

It’s a battle between both sides’ struggling units. A struggling attack is exactly what the Union defense needs right now, while a struggling defense is what the United attack needs. Whoever comes out on top of this matchup, will likely win the match, and will have hoped to find some good form to continue battling for the top of the east.

Player to watch: Jamiro Monteiro 

The man that the Union have been waiting for is starting to get healthy again. How long he will play or if he will even start is up to the Union technical staff. If the Union have the lead at half, I can see Monteiro being a second half sub to help lock down the game and help with defensive issues. Can Monteiro be as effective in his first game back from injury, probably not, but his return is a good sign for a struggling Union side.

Prediction: Philadelphia 2-1 D.C. United

Jim Curtin challenged his depth players to make an impact last week and they failed. With Wagner and Monteiro are coming back, the responsibility shifts to the regular starting XI. I think D.C. ends their goalless streak but Picault’s pressing and Wagner’s defensive pressing will be enough to power the Union to a much-needed win in a big game.

10 Comments

  1. The outcome of this game will help me determine if this is the new or same old Union. Do they really have a winning mentality or will they wilt again when the going gets tough.

    • I second that. I’m worried about the D. 4 vs NYC 4vs Salt lake and 4 in Montreal. That’s more than New England has given up in 2 months

  2. I would start Wooten and Kacper as the strikers, throw Fontana in at the 10 if Monty is healthy and you can have 3 of Ilsinho, little Marco, Aaronson and Fafa off the bench.

  3. i’m thinking tie. we shouldn’t bleed another 4 goals and we should be able to score at least 1.

  4. Montiero will probably not be ready. Aaronson should start with Fontana Ilsinio Wooten Fafa Bedoya. Harris and Kai. Get on the scoreboard early. Only bring in Marco if the Union are up 2 goals and they need to control the ball
    . Aaronson and Fontana need to step it up. Montiero will not be ready for 3 weeks. Get him to 100 %. his game is about his quickness and tight turns with the ball. Need him for the stretch in September.

    • Ilsinho should never start unless there is a dire emergency. He is entirely ineffective as a starter and has demonstrated this again and again.

      Monteiro will definitely not be starting. So that leaves Medunjanin and Bedoya in the midfield for sure, and almost certainly Fabian, despite his inconsistent play. The question is whether Fontana has shown enough, and Aaronson had a tough enough time of late, that the former should be given a start at the left wing. I say yes. Can always sub him out — maybe for Monteiro — if it isn’t working out.

      Up top we need Kacper, and I would probably start Picault too, in part for his defensive work. In the back, I wish we had a replacement for Gaddis but I have no idea if R.J. Allen is up to starting. But I do know that Aurelien Colin can perfectly well start for Auston Trusty, and he should.

      • Lost all confidence in Marco getting the offense moving forward in attacking the goal.Needs the ball set on a platter

  5. You have the Unions points and record wrong. 39 points on 11-7-6.

    • Your player to watch is someone who you state in one paragraph may not be ready, and your conclusion states the U will win because he is coming back. I’m sure that made sense to you when you wrote it.

  6. P.S. I think it’s hard to pick a player to watch, because the Union have a bunch of guys who CAN make a difference in any given match, but it’s tough to know when any one of them will do so. But if I had to pick, I’d go with either Kai Wagner or Marco Fabian.

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