Match previews / Union

Match preview: DC United vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union (2020: 10-3-4, 34 points) vs DC United (2-10-5, 11 points)

What: 2020 MLS Regular Season

Where: Audi Field, Washington DC

When: Wednesday, October 14th at 8 p.m.

Watch: PHL 17, ESPN+

Whistle: Referee: Marcos de Oliveira Assistant Referees: Corey Parker, CJ Morgantew 4th Official: Luis Arroyo VAR: Alan Kelly

It’s been a while since Philadelphia and DC last met. Ben Olsen was still head coach for United in that match, a 4-1 win for the Union in Chester back in August. It’s been even longer since the Union’s last visit to the nation’s capital, a 5-1 win over United in August 2019.

Scouting Report: DC United

DC United has had a year to forget so far in 2020.

They’ve only posted two wins out of 17 matches, had a growing list of injuries throughout the year, and to top it all off, the man everyone thought was untouchable after so many years, Ben Olsen, was relieved of his coaching duties.

Olsen deserved to lose his job, as DC was on a 4 game losing streak before he was let go, but his firing won’t solve their issues. Interim head coach Chad Ashton extended the losing run to 5 games in his first game at the helm, a 2-1 loss in Chicago last Sunday. Ashton did say in his pregame media availability that DC will try to make the Union attack “uncomfortable” and that he expects a high foul count.

So who is Ashton counting on to make life difficult for the Philadelphia attack? Expect veteran Frederic Brillant to be paired with homegrown defender Donovan Pines. This pairing has had some experience playing together as Steve Birnbaum has been off the field due to injury issues. For the outside backs, everyday starter Joseph Mora wille be looking to get up and down the left side, with Chris Odoi-Astem providing a more defensive option on the right side. In defensive midfield, DC likes to have two in the deep lying role with Junior Moreneo bringing a more physical role and Russell Canouse aiding in possession and physicality as well, both players have logged four yellows and one red card this season.

In attack, United has Julian Gressel and Yamil Asad operating as attacking midfielders on the right and left respectively. The former Atlanta United men like to play with speed and attack the outside defenders, either cutting into the box or delivering a cross into their strikers. The main striker currently in DC is long time MLS vet Ola Kamara, although Kamara has only posted three goals on the year, symbolizing DC’s scoring woes. His partnership has seen some changes recently: with Frederico Higuain being sent to Miami, DC started Gelmin Rivas alongside Kamara on Sunday in Chicago.

United has also started to move more into youth development during their woes this season, with 3 players under 18 making strides. 16 year old Moses Nyeman can be brought in for energy in the midfield, while 17 year old Kevin Paredes can be used as midfield attacking option if United needs goals. Lastly is 18 year old Griffin Yow, who has one goal so far in the year, look for him to come on if DC is in search of a late goal.

Injury Report: Out: Paul Arriola, Mohammed Abu, Ulises Segura, Felipe, Steve Birnbaum

Scouting report: Union

The Union haven’t felt the absence of Jose “El Brujo” Martinez yet, as they’ve outscored opponents 5-1 since he left for the Venezuelan national team. The Union midfield faces a unique matchup tonight though due to Martinez’s absence, Warren Creavalle is out with an injury he picked up against Montreal Sunday. Without Creavalle, the Union should have Anthony Fontana back in the starting lineup. Fontana can line up as the attacking midfielder in the center or on the outside, giving the Union some tactical flexibility.  Another important aspect to watch for the Union midfield is Alejandro Bedoya’s discipline, with the midfield captain set to miss the next match with a yellow card due to accumulation.

In the back, expect the same starting back line that featured Sunday night. Jacob Glesnes is unavailable as he is still in concussion protocol, clearing the way for another showing of the Jack Elliott and Mark McKenzie pairing. Kai Wagner is getting back into fitness and should start, and Olivier Mbazio should be on the right, still filling in for the injured Ray Gaddis, who Jim Curtin mentioned is a possibility to make the bench tonight.

A group who should be very excited to feature against DC should be the Union’s attacking corps, who have had great success in past matchups. Kacper Przybylko hasn’t scored in a few games, but he has the added satisfaction that he put two goals past DC when they last met in Chester. Meanwhile Sergio Santos has found his scoring touch recently, putting the second goal past Montreal on Sunday. Santos also knows about scoring against DC, he put away the third goal for the Union during the meeting in Chester. One attacker you can expect not to feature is Cory Burke. Burke recently rejoined the team after visa issues and completed his quarantine period yesterday. Burke is now back in training with the team and may get some time in upcoming games.

Injury Report: Out: Jacob Glesnes, Warren Creavalle.  Questionable: Raymon Gaddis

Key Matchup:  Union Attack vs Bunkered DC

The Union struggled last year against teams that would let them have possession and force them to break them down. It appears that will be DC’s strategy for tonight’s game, or they’ll simply rack up fouls to disrupt the Union attacking rhythm. The Union, especially Alejandro Bedoya, can’t be sucked into DC’s game and simply play their own style.

Player to Watch: Anthony Fontana 

Fontana didn’t get the start against Montreal, presumably due to the fact that Curtin doesn’t rate his defensive work rate highly. Fontana gives the ability to move their midfield around, being a player that can play almost anywhere in the current formation. If Jim Curtin starts him, it will be interesting to see if he tests him with more defensive responsibilities.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 3-0 DC United

The Union have been rolling lately and have a history of taking it to this DC United roster. Will a coaching change have drastic effect on the outcome of this match? I don’t think so. Przybylko scores against his favorite team and Santos adds one or 2 to put it away.

Philadelphia: -110
DC United:  +310
Draw: +270


  1. okay okay… I’ll lighten up.

  2. This is a game we should control and win easily. I hope we are up by a few by the 60th, and if so I hope Turner and De Vreis get a run out to rest some of our midfield.

  3. Great, a team that is playing for nothing but the margin between them and the playoff places plans on playing hack-a-striker with our team.

    Just the kind of thing you want to hear their coach saying.

  4. Just saw the lineup on the Union website. Santos is going to be busy as he is both starting and on the bench.

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