Match previews

Match Preview: DC United vs Philadelphia Union

Photo by Marjorie Elzy

Who: Philadelphia Union (2021: 8-8-5, 32 points, 3rd place in the East) vs.DC United (8-3-10, 27 points, 7th place in the East)

What: 2021 MLS Regular Season.  

Where: Audi Field, Washington DC

When: Saturday, August 28 at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Watch: PHL 17; ESPN+

Whistle: Referee: Rubiel Vazquez, Assistant Referees: Peter Balciunas, Eric Weisbrod. 4th Official:JC Griggs, VAR: Jose Carlos Rivera

The Union go back on the road this weekend, hopping on the bus and heading South down I-95 to meet DC United for a Saturday night, 8:00 PM match at Audi Field.  

It seems like the Union are having an off season, mired in mediocrity, unable to score and giving up sloppy goals. And yet, as we move along in the second half of the season, they find themselves in third place with the lowest goals against per match  in the Eastern Conference (at .95/game, and only Seattle is better overall). So why all the angst? Maybe it’s just Philadelphia fans being Philadelphia fans – but a strong, sound and confident game versus DC United would go a long way towards changing perceptions of the team.

This will be the year’s third meeting between these rivals. A 1-0 win for the Union in May followed by a mid-July 2-1 win, featuring a sweet counter-attacking goal by Sergio Santos followed by an 83rd minute winner by Kacper Przbylko. A jaw-dropping stat? The Union are unbeaten in the last 10 matches with DC United – winning 9 of them.

Scouting Report: DC United

After a slow start followed by a nice run of games, DC United will try to regroup after losing their last three in just a seven day period: Nashville 5-2, New England 3-2 and Atlanta 2-1. Their task will be made tougher as winger and USMNT player Paul Arriola will miss the game nursing a hamstring injury. Also expected to be out is starting goalkeeper Bill Hamid.

New (to 2021) coach Hernan Losado will commit to the press and push numbers forward. The three man backline will, in theory, help protect the team against the counterattack – but the 31 goals allowed shows otherwise. In the last game vs the Union, DC overcommitted and opened up to the Union’s counterattack resulting in both goals. Don’t be surprised if you see DC playing a bit more conservatively on Saturday

There should be a good battle on the right side of the pitch as Midfielder Jullian Gressel is having an excellent year working that side and feeding the ball to forward Ola Kamara who is fourth in the league in goals with 11.  

Injury report:

Out: Brendan Hines, Adrien Perez, Nigel Robertha, Paul Arriola

Questionable: Donovan Pines, Bill Hamid

Suspended:  None

Scouting report: Union

Coach Curtin rested some starters for last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Montreal. With no mid-week match on either side of this one, and the upcoming international break after, we should see all of the Union regular starters at the opening whistle. Having a midfield of Gazdag, Montiero, Martinez and Bedoya on the field at the same time has been a rarity but this, it would seem, is the best combination available. If the Union are going to make a run as the campaign inexorably moves towards its end, the aforementioned group will need to play together and work out their well-worn chemistry issues.

The Union’s offense has been lacking punch of late consisting mostly of hopeful crosses and final passes to nowhere. One missing element has been working through the middle in the final third. Gazdag had his best performance against DC in their last game so it is important that he find the ball and connect with his teammates.

Up top, expect to see Kacper Przbylko and Sergio Santos (though Santos is nursing a hamstring) as the starting forwards. Fans may see an earlier appearance from super-sub Quinn Sullivan or the MLS debut of Matheus Davo.

Injury Report:

Out: Illsinho

Questionable: Sergio Santos

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup:  Union Offense vs DC United’s Defense

The Union’s offense has been sputtering and DC United’s defense hasn’t been particularly good all year. This should be a game that the Union offense steps up and makes a statement.

Player to Watch: Daniel Gazdag

It’s obvious that Gazdag has game, but that hasn’t translated to the stat sheet yet. Chemistry, schmemistry – he’s played in a dozen matches.  It’s time for a big game. 

Prediction:  Philadelphia 3-1 DC United


Philadelphia Union:    +225

DC United :                   +125

Draw:                              +240


  1. Gruncle Bob says:

    Please start Sullivan and bring on Gazdag.

  2. In Tanner We Trust says:

    I just hope the kids get minutes. And obviously we have no business leaving the field with anything but 3 points.

  3. Hernan Munster says:

    U had no business being on that field.

    Nobody misses Olsen more than Curtin.
    He has no cover for his lack of acumen without him.

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