Match previews

Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs DC United

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Who: Philadelphia Union (2022: 7-2-9, 30 points, 2nd place in the East) vs D.C. United (5-9-2, 17 points, 13th place in the East)

What: 2022 MLS Regular Season, Week 19

Where: Subaru Park, Chester, PA

When: Friday, July 8, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern)

Watch: ESPN, ESPN Deportes

Whistle: Referee: Ted Unkel, Asst Referees: Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho, Gianni Facchini; 4th Official: Guido Gonzalez Jr.; VAR: Jose Carlos Rivero; AVAR: Jeff Muschik

The Philadelphia Union welcome DC United to Subaru Park for a Friday night Eastern Conference clash.

The Union will be looking to return to winning ways after their two-game road trip yielded just one point — a 0-0 draw against the Columbus Crew on Sunday, following their 1-0 loss at Solider Field in Chicago the previous Wednesday.

D.C. United will be hoping to build upon their win this past Monday when their offense exploded for five goals against Orlando City, including a hat trick from forward Taxi Fountas.

This will be the first meeting for these two teams in 2022.  Philadelphia holds the edge in this match-up all-time with 17 wins to D.C. United’s 11; they have drawn 6 times.

Scouting report: D.C. United

It has been dark first half to the season for D.C. United, with few bright spots to speak of.  Just seven weeks into the 2022 season, the team surprisingly fired head coach Hernan Losada.  Losada led the team to an eighth place finish last year (one point off the playoff pace), had begun to integrate his up-tempo, pressing style of play, and more notably, his own style of coaching and managing the team.  After a 2-0-5 start to the year, though, the front office had seen enough and relieved Losada of his duties.

Interim boss Chad Ashton has been at the helm since Losada’s departure.

Despite Losada’s departure, many of the players he had brought in to work within his system are still on the roster. As a result, the team lacks direction at the moment and the 2022 season is in jeopardy of being a wash.

With that said, one very big bright spot has been the addition of forward Taxi Fountas, for whom the team paid an additional $400,000 to release him from his contract with Rapid Vienna early in March (he was originally scheduled to join the team in the current transfer window).  Fountas has nine goals and three assists, is fifth in the league xG +xA per 90, and is highest-rated newcomer based on American Soccer Analysis’ goals added metric.  As mentioned, he is coming off of a hat trick against Orlando this past Monday and the Union defense to pay special attention to him tonight.

In addition to Fountas, fellow forward and seasoned veteran Ola Kamara has found the back of the net six times this year for the Black and Red.  Kamara lines up on the right side next to Fountas is DC’s 3-4-2-1.

Defensively, fans can expect to see German wingback and former MLS Cup champion Julian Gressel on the ball frequently.  Gressel provides defensive stability to Ashton’s team and is also very capable of carrying the ball forward and although he hasn’t found the net yet this year, he has contributed with seven assists thus far.

One wild card is the recent signing of Chilean winger Martin Rodriquez from Turkish club Altay SK.  D.C. hopes that Rodriquez can provide some additional firepower alongside Fountas and Kamara.  He was eligible to begin team activities yesterday and is available for selection for tonight’s match.  Should Rodriquez find success quickly with his new team, D.C.’s second half to the season could look vastly different from the first half.

Note, the signing of Rodriquez came on the same day that the team announced the departure of DP midfielder Edison Flores, who completed a transfer to Liga MX side Atlas FC after three seasons with DC United.

Injury Report – Adrien Perez (OUT), Bill Hamid (OUT), Russell Canouse (QUESTIONABLE)

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Head coach Jim Curtin will be welcoming the return of his four Homegrown talents as they return from their successful stint with the U-20s, helping the U.S. secure its spot at the 2024 Olympics (its first Olympics since 2008).  The return of Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan, Jack McGlynn and Brandan Craig will provide him some much needed offensive alternatives off the bench (or potentially in the starting XI) as the team was unable to find the net during their absence from the last two regular season games.

As the Homegrowns return, the Union had a busy transfer news week elsewhere, as Jack de Vries will make his loan with Venezia FC permanent, while midfielder Matej Oravec was released from the team Thursday.

Reports also have forward Sergio Santos on his way to FC Cincinnati via trade, and defender Stuart Findlay finalizing a deal that will send him to English League One side Oxford United.

The secondary transfer window will remain open through August 4, so there may very well be more news to come.

For now, Jim Curtin will need to rely on the players that remain to propel his side to a successful second half of the season.

With a depleted roster, Curtin elected for something of a 3-5-2  on Sunday against Columbus, with Oliver Mbaizo and Kai Wagner acting as wingbacks and Jack Elliot, Stuart Findlay and Jakob Glesnes anchoring as a back three.

With the Homegrowns back and the return of Jose Martinez after his red card suspension, it’s likely that Jim Curtin will revert back to his tried and true 4-4-2 pressing diamond.

Mikael Uhre and Julian Carranza should be expected to start up top after coming off of the bench in the 69th minute during Sunday’s match, with the Hungarian Daniel Gazdag sitting underneath at the No. 10 spot.

Note, despite returning from his red card suspension, Martinez will still need to be careful as he currently sits on seven yellow cards.  An eighth yellow card tonight will earn him a suspension.  Defender Kai Wagner will also need to be careful, as he currently sits on four yellow cards, and a fifth in tonight’s match will see him suspended for one game.

Injury Report – None

Matchup to Watch: Union top 3 vs D.C. defense

The D.C. defense is prone to giving up multiple goals (they’ve done so 11 times this year).  This matchup presents a good opportunity for the Uhre-Carranza-Gazdag trio to provide that offensive outburst that the Union have been waiting for.

Player to Watch: Taxi Fountas

He is one of the hottest players in MLS right now.

Prediction: Union 3-2 DC United

Some offensive fireworks in this match to serve as an appetizer for the fireworks after the game.

2 Comments

  1. Murphthesurf says:

    Just win baby ! DOOP ⚽️ ⚡️

  2. You certainly were right about offensive fireworks!

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