Match previews / Union

Match preview: DC United vs Philadelphia Union

Photo by Marjorie Elzey

Who: D.C. United vs Philadelphia Union

What: MLS Regular Season

Where: Audi Field, Washington, D.C.

When: Sunday, May 23rd, 7:00pm

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+

Whistle: Not available at publication.

The Philadelphia Union are back in action as they travel south on I-95 to face D.C. United on Sunday night, concluding the longest stretch between games the Union have seen since the start of the MLS season. Despite already playing in 10 matches since early April, Philadelphia has had only 17 different players see the field so far this season. Philadelphia also hasn’t given up a road goal in 4 matches this season, a streak they will look to continue in the nation’s capitol.

Scouting Report: D.C. United 

Last season United struggled mightily against Philadelphia, being outscored 9-4 and posting a record of 0-2-1. This D.C. United team is much different though, as Hernan Losada has replaced Ben Olsen as head coach and new additions Edison Flores and Adrien Perez now lead the attack. D.C’s offense has been streaky to start the season, only scoring 5 goals in their 6 games, and only scoring multiple goals on one occasion. This inconsistency has lead United to a up and down first 6 games: they started off with a 2-1 win over NYCFC, then dropped 3 straight to New England, San Jose and Columbus (being outscored 8-2 in those span of games). Their last 2 games have also been up and down, featuring a 1-0 win over Chicago and a 1-0 loss to Orlando. This is a team still very much learning Losada’s tactical system and formations, evident by their lack of consistency so far.

Speaking of Losada’s new tactics, United now employs a 3-5-2 formation looking to overload the midfield while still protecting their defensive side. The 5 midfielders comprise of a block of 4 behind the 2 attackers, which is primarily composed of Julian Gressel on the right, former Bethlehem Steel man Drew Skundrich and homegrown Moses Nyeman in the center, and newcomer Andy Najar on the left. In the back protecting and linking with the defense is Junior Moreno, who has a similar play style to that of Philadelphia’s Jose Martinez.

The three defenders consist of long-time MLS regular Frederic Brillant, with Brendan Hines-Ike on the right and new-comer Antonio Alfaro on the left side. Gressel and Najar are also able to get back and help on defense if needed. In net is Bill Hamid, another longtime MLS regular who has been battling to get some USMNT camp invites in recent years.

Injury Report: Out: Steven Birnbaum, Bill Hamid, Erik Sorga, Yordy Reyna, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Nigel Robertha, Donavon Pines.  Questionable: Griffin Yow, Joseph Mora, Jacob Greene, Russell Canouse

Suspension Report: None

Scouting report: Union

Since dropping their second home game of the year to NYCFC 2-0, Philadelphia has had an impressive run of form: 4 games in a 2 week span, outscoring opponets 5-2 and posting a record of 2-0-2. Philadelphia has also gotten scoring across their forward corps, with Cory Burke and Kacper Przybylko finding the net as of late. If Sergio Santos can find his goal scoring form again, Philadelphia’s offensive unit could again be one of the most dangerous in the league.

Philadelphia will also have their starting defensive midfielder back in action, as Jose Martinez’s 2 game suspension ended after the New York Red Bulls match. The re-introduction of Martinez would also allow Philadelphia to deploy one of their most effective players in Jamiro Monteiro in his natural position on the left side of the midfield. Alternatively, Monteiro could also line up as the attacking midfielder in the diamond, allowing Leon Flach to occupy the left side of the midfield. In any case, Martinez’s return gives coach Jim Curtin plenty of options of how he wants to deploy his midfield, and at least one midfield depth piece on the bench.

The Union will be unchanged in the back as their back 4 has started to gain some chemistry over the past few matches. Olivier Mbazio has been growing into his role as an offensive driver on the right side, while also proving to be able to recover defensively. Jack Elliott and Jacob Glesnes have been strong on the road so far, with both playing a large part in Philadelphia not allowing any road goals so far this season.

Injury Report: Jack De Vries – Out, Ilsinho – Out, Stuart Findlay – Questionable, Kacper Przybylko – Questionable

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup Midfields

Philadelphia will have their first choice midfield for this match, and will even have the luxury of bringing in one of their starters from the bench, most likely. Yet the Union haven’t really faced a team where they will be outnumbered in the midfield for most of the match. Dominating this area of the pitch is important to both of these teams play style and whoever wins the between the boxes will most likely win the match.

Player to Watch: Jose Martinez 

Martinez is likely returning to the starting lineup after his suspension, he shouldn’t be lacking fitness or behind the speed of play, but watch for his discipline level. Especially going against Junior Moreno, D.C. and other teams in the league will be looking to get under El Brujo’s skin until he can prove he can keep his cool again.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 1 -0 D.C United

The Union will continue their streak of not allowing a goal in road games and one of Kacper Przybylko or Cory Burke continues their good form to propel Philadelphia to a win.


Philadelphia = +15o
D.C. = +185
Draw = +240



  1. Andy Muenz says: has Timothy Ford on the whistle.

  2. Tim Jones says:

    Update on Union Player Availability.
    From the Union website:

    Out: Ilsinho (groin); Jack de Vries (Concussion protocol); Greg Ranjitsingh (knee)

    Questionable: [none listed]

  3. please please sit Bedoya. he isn’t going to make it to the end of the season. Having Fontana at the 10 for more than a cup of coffee would also be nice

  4. If Hamid is on the injury report as being out, who will start in the net for DC?

  5. Wow, by my count, DeVries has been out for almost 2 months with that concussion. Would I be wrong to have serious concerns following this injury? Any kind of tbi is risky business but I can’t imagine one that has kept someone out since preseason wouldn’t have some ramifications. Especially since I recall there being a certain amount of fanfare about his role this season. Regardless, I hope we see him take the field soon.

  6. Update: Player to watch is now Gazdag

    • In Tanner We Trust says:

      Yes! Funny that all of us had just agreed we’d likely not see him til after Euros. Wow, Tanner really does keep things tight-lipped.

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