Match previews

Match preview: DC United v. Philadelphia Union

Photo by Marjorie Elzy

Who: DC United (5-1-6, 9th place in the East) v. Philadelphia Union (5-5-3, 20 points, 3rd place in the East)

What: 2021 MLS Regular Season.

Where: Subaru Park

When: Saturday, July 17th at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern)

Watch: PHL17, ESPN+, PhiladelphiaUnion.com

Whistle: Not available at time of publication.

Things can’t get weirder than they were in Harrison, NJ last week can they?

Union fans will find out on Saturday, in a packed Subaru Park with rival DC United coming to town. The last time these two teams faced off, a scrumptious chip and dip goal from Jamiro Monteiro and Kacper Pryzbylko was the difference (as well as about a dozen incredible saves from Andre Blake).

If this game is half as fun, fans who make the trip to Chester will be handsomely rewarded.

Scouting Report: DC United

DC United defeated Toronto FC in their last match 7-1.

Yes, the score was 7-1. Shockingly, that result got Toronto head coach Chris Armas fired. Toronto isn’t that bad anymore and DC was never that good, but seven goals is seven goals. Before that though it was a loss to NYCFC 2-1 and a scoreless draw against a short-handed Montreal.

United have been known to play odd numbers in the back, using a 3-4-3 in the aforementioned Toronto game and variations on that theme quite a bit this season. That’s the base structure for how teams like NYCFC have neutralized the Union’s wingback play and it’s likely the Eagles have watched tape on that successful strategy.

Injury report: 

  • OUT: Steven Birnbaum (ankle)
  • OUT: Chris Odoi-Atsem (lower body)
  • OUT: Drew Skundrich (knee)
  • OUT: Edison Flores (hamstring)

*MLSSoccer.com’s Injury Report hasn’t been updated since May 27th.

Suspended:  None

Scouting report: Union

The Union will look different than they did last time out.

Jamiro Monteiro is out on yellow card accumulation and Matt Freese is out after his unfortunate red card. Andre Blake is away at the Gold Cup, and he is joined by other Union contributors Cory Burke and Alvas Powell. The starting formation won’t change, but expect to see Daniel Gazdag at the top of the diamond with Sergio Santos finding a spot in the starting lineup again next to Kacper Pryzbylko.

The Union’s overarching goal in this game will be to build chemistry and take points. This uneven season has left the team looking disjointed, while still holding a high table position – like Level 10 in Tetris when the bricks start falling really fast. Most players can still keep up, but without a great strategy for when they become even faster still, there’s no chance of progressing much further after that.

Injury Report:

  • OUT: Jack de Vries (concussion protocol)
  • DOUBTFUL: Ilsinho (groin surgery)
  • DOUBTFUL: Anthony Fontana (concussion protocol)
  • OUT: Andre Blake (international duty)
  • OUT: Cory Burke (international duty)
  • OUT: Alvas Powell (international duty)

*MLSSoccer.com’s Injury Report hasn’t been updated since May 27th.

Suspension Report:  Jamiro Montiero, Matt Freese

Key Matchup Union strikers v. themselves

The chorus of Union fans calling for a striker in the bunch to take this offense by the reigns hasn’t grown any softer in the last few weeks – and the shadow of two free international spots should make the whole lot uneasy. If Kacper, Sergio, and whoever slots in behind them in the 60th minute can find a goal or two, it’ll take the pressure off the group for at least a few days.

They need help from the midfield too, who seem more content to dump balls in behind forward-pushing fullbacks than they do to string three passes together centrally and split lines.

Player to Watch: Daniel Gazdag

Gazdag Watch: Part Deux.

If he’s the keystone piece to this Union midfield, now is the time to start locking other players into place. Jamiro Monteiro’s absence won’t help in this match, but two weeks off will be useful for the Cape Verdean in the long run. In his stead, Gazdag needs to find some rhythm and open some spaces – the Union’s chances this season rely on it.

Prediction:  DC United 0 – 2 Philadelphia Union

It won’t be pretty, but the Union won’t let their underwhelming road form rub off at home. Kacper gets the first and Gazdag gets a late consolation goal, everyone goes home happy.

Moneyline: 

Don’t bet on sports. Put your money in an S&P 500 Index fund and don’t look at it for the next 30 years.

10 Comments

  1. Hahaha – Thanks for the investment advice!

  2. Hahah its still gambling! who are the Eagles? Is Jack de Vries in a coma?

  3. Tim Jones says:

    Info on the Union’s website, both Curtin’s Pressing Points and the “game notes” that are buried deep behind many submenus say Fontana is out.
    .
    De Vries has been in the concussion protocol for three and a half months.
    .
    Something Curtin said about him a few weeks ago makes me think that individuals outside the organization administer the re-tests, and that they are available to do so less frequently than they might otherwise be.
    .
    The good news is that both those sources no longer list Ilsinho as out. “Questionable” is what game notes says and Curtin mentioned he got 25 minutes in an inter squad scrimmage against Union II.
    .
    Were I the Union, if it is raining I would not allow Ilsinho to even put on cleats. Thunderstorms are predicted on the Weather Channel.

  4. Best Moneyline finish right there. 🙂

  5. If DC lines up 3-5-2, Curtin MUST have a different answer. The league now knows how to shut us down. Have to change up the strategy and score early and often over the top… then bunker and shut down their offense like we should in the rain on the River.

    Much success to Joe, Gazdag, please no go to Ilsinho… rest one more game due to the weather. We need him in Orlando and Miami.

    Be strong and flexible. Bring home 3 points. DOOP!!!! Tough road trip, week upcoming. Hope Jamaica loses soon. SMILE

  6. Great job Joe!!!

    Glesnes HAS to stop being casual with back passes. Almost cost us a goal again.

    And Martinez is going to follow Fontana into Curtin’s doghouse with more out of control behavior on his part. YOU would have thought the recent Red card and suspension would have done it, maybe why Tanner is about to sign another defensive midback from Venezuela.

    Good win, not overall strong, but a gutsy win. Worrying about Orlando and Miami next. We need to come away with at least 4 points on this road trip.

    Doop.

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