Match previews / Union

Match preview: DC United vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Earl Gardner

Who: Philadelphia Union (3-1-3, 12 points) vs DC United (1-3-3, 6 points)
What: 2020 MLS Regular Season
Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA
When: Saturday, August 29, 7:30 p.m.
Watch: PHL17, ESPN+
Whistle: Not available at time of publication

Athletes around the country are taking a stand against racial injustice and police brutality after the recent events in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after police shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times. It’s not my place to tell you what to support or think; that’s your right as an American. This match may not be played tomorrow night; you should understand the reasons for that. Please take the time to read why Union players Ray Gaddis, Warren Creavalle and Mark McKenzie are so involved with the MLS Black Players Coalition and how they are using their platforms to create change. More information on the MLS Black Players Coalition can be found here.

Scouting report: DC United

DC United has had one of the oddest starts to an odd season. After making the MLS Cup Playoffs last season, the team saw stars Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta leave the team. They then opened at home with a loss against Colorado, then got a win against Miami. Down in Orlando for MLS is Back, things got weirder, down 2 goals and playing with 1o men, they fought back to draw Toronto 2-2. They then drew again against New England thanks to a Frederico Higuain super sub appearance, then falling 1-0 to Montreal to miss out of a spot in the Round of 16. Now with the restart of the regular season, DC opened with a 0-0 draw at Cincinnati, then a 2-1 defeat to New England at home on Tuesday night. To add insult to injury, United lost both Russel Canouse and Edison Flores to injuries Tuesday night, to go along with the already injured Paul Arriola.

Even with all their attacking injuries, DC still has some weapons to watch out for. Up top is Norwegian Ola Kamara, who left MLS for a brief spell in China before returning with DC in August 2019. He hasn’t caught fire with United yet, but Kamara has a proven track record of being dangerous in the league, scoring 14 or more goals in 3 straight years with Columbus and the LA Galaxy respectively. DC also sports 2 former Atlanta United players in their attacking midfield, with Yamil Asad playing at the number 10 and Julian Gressel on the wing. Assad joined DC this season after spending the 2018 season on the team, posting 9 goals and 8 assists in 30 matches, but hasn’t found his rhythm in 2020 yet, only posting 1 goal in 7 games. Gressel is back to his preferred position in midfield, after spending 2019 as a fullback in Atlanta, still tallying 6 goals and 12 assists in 33 games. Much like Kamara and Assad though, Gressel hasn’t found the scoring touch yet, starting all 7 games and only 1 assist to show for it.

In the back, DC also sports longtime MLS experience with Steve Birnbaum and Frederic Brillant as their center back pairing. Birnbaum and Brillant combined for 14 clean sheets last season, with the help of USMNT hopeful goalkeeper Bill Hamid in net. This group seemed to struggle against the Union last year, losing 5-1 at home and 3-1 in Chester last year. On the outside the other constant in the DC defense is Joseph Mora, playing on the left side, Mora likes to advance up the field and float crosses into the box. Mora has speed to recover and is the stereotypical left back in modern soccer, much like the Union’s Kai Wagner.

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

The Union haven’t put together a complete performance since the regular season started, but have been able to get points when they aren’t at their best, something good teams do. The Union earned a 0-0 draw in New England last week thanks to a solid defense effort, and a 1-0 win over New York Red Bulls Tuesday night, thanks again to their defense and a goal from Kacper Przybylko. Jim Curtin did mention he would be rotating his squad with the amount of games being played, so don’t be surprised to see Jack Elliot back in the starting XI, and maybe a return for Sergio Santos.

While the Union played solid defense and had Andre Blake bail them out once or twice against New York, the strikers could have put the game to bed much earlier. Santos and Przybylko both missed golden opportunities to put Philadelphia up by two goals and relive some pressure. The good thing about those missed chances, is that the Union offensive unit was able to get great looks on net, something they didn’t do much of against New England. Brenden Aaronson seemed more comfortable finding his strikers, although it seems that chemistry maybe off with Alejandro Bedoya when the Union get the ball at the top of the 18.

The Union midfield was also effective last time out, with Bedoya and Jamiro Monteiro getting in advanced positions to help generate offense. Jose Martinez was also able to avoid a yellow card for the second straight game, bringing a much needed physical and defensive effort as the midfield anchor. This group also could see some rotation, with Bedoya and Monteiro playing 90 minutes in both matches so far; don’t be surprised if Warren Creavalle and Anthony Fontana are used earlier than usual.

Key matchup: Union attack vs DC defense

The Union have had previous success against this DC defensive unit, does that give them the confidence to find their finishing ability? Or has DC finally figured out this Union team, which would lead them to needed road clean sheet and a reset of what has been a slow start to the regular season.

Prediction: Philadelphia 2-0 DC United

The good times keep rolling for the Union, with Aaronson and Przybylko getting on the scoresheet. DC has only kept one clean sheet this season, and the Union attack should know this defense pretty well. A thin DC attack doesn’t start clicking in Chester Saturday night, and the Union take all three points.


  1. That’s an awesome statement by Ray.
    Assuming the game is played, I’m looking for a breakout type game with the Union winning 4 or 5 to 1.

  2. Rotating strikers makes sense.
    Rotating defenders is usually less urgent.
    Rotating midfielders is crucial, and so far that hasn’t happened, either in Florida or since.

  3. There was no mention of the defender D. Pines in the DC United scouting report. Excellent defender with speed to recover and used offensively on set plays. Player to watch!

  4. Players I would like to see start on the bench tonight would be Bedoya, Kacper, and one if not both of Aaronson/Montiero. These guys have played a lot of minutes and they can all come in as subs if needed. Santos/Wooten would be my starting strikers. I’d also like to see Fontana get about 60 minutes. Tonight would be a perfect time to get some players rest and use all 5 subs with matches next Wednesday and Sunday before finally getting close to a week off.

  5. Watching the Union Vs DC game. Someone please tell the broadcasting company to turn down the piped-in crowd noise. It’s so loud you can’t hear the announcers.

  6. Watching the Union Vs DC game. Someone please tell the broadcasting company to turn down the piped-in crowd noise. It’s so loud you can’t hear the announcers.

  7. Now watching the Union vs DC game on Phila 17 station. The piped-in crowd noise is so loud you cannot hear the announcers.
    Someone,….please tell them to turn it down.

    It’s now half time and with the back ground noise off, it’s more enjoyable and we can hear the announcers.


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