Match previews

Match preview: FC Dallas vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Howie Pollard

Who: FC Dallas (11-5-9, 39 points, third place in the Western Conference) vs. Philadelphia Union (13-3-9, 48 points, first place in the Eastern Conference)

What: 2022 MLS Regular Season 

Where: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas

When:  August 17, 2022 at 9 p.m. Eastern, kickoff at 9:08

Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, ESPN+

Whistle: Referee Nima Saghafi, assistant referees Jose Da Silva and Kevin Lock, fourth official Rubiel Vazquez, VAR Guido Gonzalez Jr., and assistant VAR TJ Zablocki

The last time Philadelphia Union went to Texas was two weeks before the world changed.

A 2-0 defeat to FC Dallas on February 29, 2020, wasn’t an auspicious season opener for the Boys in Blue. Few people in attendance thought that the next few months would see the MLS season — and the world at large — shut down. Even fewer would have thought that the Union would end that fractured, weird campaign with the club’s first-ever trophy — the Supporters’ Shield.

Tonight, the Union head back to Frisco to face off against a strong Dallas side. Toyota Stadium has been a house of horrors for Philly over the years, with the club grabbing just one point in their seven matches in the Dallas suburbs.

Riding six wins in the last seven matches, though, Jim Curtin’s men will feel confident in their chances to grab a result on the road.

Scouting Report: FC Dallas

Philosophically, the hosts are sort of a Western Conference version of the Union. Dallas’s Academy is at the core of everything it does as a club, and it’s produced some phenomenal players over the years. The likes of Kellyn Acosta, Reggie Cannon, Weston McKennie, Ricardo Pepi, and Chris Richards all came through Dallas to appear for the USMNT.

That hasn’t always translated into results on the field. But under the guidance of first-year head coach Nico Estevez, this year’s Dallas squad is doing well, in third place in the competitive Western Conference and six points above the red line.

At the heart of Dallas’s success is another Academy product, 21-year-old Jesus Ferreira. Ferreira has broken through in a big way in MLS this year, his first season with a DP contract, appearing in every match and notching 14 goals so far (along with five assists). The 13-cap U.S. international is fighting for a place on the plane to Qatar in four months.

He’s supported by longtime D.C. United man Paul Arriola, who’s added nine goals of his own this season. A recent trade also brought veteran Sebastian Lletget into the side, adding some midfield presence to go along with the likes of Paxton Pomykal and Tsiki Ntsabeleng.

Under Estevez, Dallas is good on the ball and seeks to control the middle of the field. Although there’ve been some ups and downs this season, last weekend’s 4-1 win over San Jose looked like growth for a young side. MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle has more on that performance.

Injury Report:  Out: Brandon Servania (pelvis).  Questionable: Facundo Quignon (adductor).

Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

After one of their worst performances of the season, Philadelphia Union rebounded nicely against Chicago Fire at home this past weekend, scoring four times en route to a comfortable victory.

With games on Wednesday and Saturday this week, manager Jim Curtin will need to consider how to keep his squad fresh for both outings. (Admittedly, a game against league-worst D.C. United isn’t something to really fear, but Curtin won’t be telling his team that.)

Tonight’s lineup will likely see Jose Martinez come back in, unusually used as a substitute against the Fire with Jack McGlynn taking his place. Other potential changes include spot starts for Cory Burke at striker, Nathan Harriel at right back, and Paxten Aaronson in the midfield.

What’s not likely to change, though, is the heart of the defense, anchored by All-Stars Andre Blake, Jakob Glesnes, and Kai Wagner. Jack Elliott, perhaps smarting from his All-Star snub, added a goal last weekend and is also in good form.

The Union remain remarkably healthy, as the injury report is completely clean after 25 matches.

Injury Report: Out: None

Key Matchup: Jesus Ferreira vs. Union CBs

Ferreira has been dynamic against MLS opposition this year, and is playing for the opportunity of a lifetime. The defense struggled against another USMNT candidate in Brandon Vazquez two weeks ago. Will they be able to keep Dallas’s danger man off the scoreboard?

Player to Watch: Jose Martinez

If the Venezuelan comes back in, how will he react to a rare benching last week? When Martinez is on, he’s the best No. 6 in the league, but discipline remains a concern.

Prediction: FC Dallas 1-1 Philadelphia Union

The Union will be happy to share the points on the road in midweek, with Mikael Uhre getting on the scoresheet for the Boys in Blue.

5 Comments

  1. Viewing this game as a playoff test. As far as I know, the Union haven’t beaten a top 3 team all year (or at least since spring) and hope we can let it rip tonight.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      If you’re just looking at LAFC, Philly, and Austin as the top 3, they’ve only played one game against the top 3.
      .
      They did win both games against NYCFC including one in late June and picked up 4 points against Montreal (albeit much earlier in the year).

      • My comment didn’t really make sense from a number point of view, I’m just excited to play a team currently in third in the west

  2. Deez Nuggs says:

    I think I would be happy with the draw. But with a secure back line, it’s possible to get a clean sheet and maybe a one nil win.

  3. 2-1… Blake saving the day again… defense tight and ready for anyone.

    Run the schedule Boys in Blue… 27 points… On our way to hosting MLS Cup 2022 in Chester.

    Hey, “Head Clown” Garber… nothing can stop us this year! Doop!

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