Match previews / Union

Match preview: D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union

Photo: Howie Pollard

Who: Philadelphia Union (1st in the East, 48 points, 13-9-4) vs. D.C. United (14th in the East, 22 points, 6-5-15)
What: 2022 regular season game
Where: Audi Field, Washington, D.C.
When: Saturday, August 20th, 7:38 p.m.
Watch: PHL17, NBCSWA+,, ESPN+
Whistle: Ted Unkel; Cory Richardson, Ryan Graves; Jon Freemon; Kevin Terry Jr., Eric Weisbrod

After a disappointing mid-week trip to Texas, the Union will be back in action this Saturday looking for redemption.

Luckily, they’ll be facing the worst team in MLS, Wayne Rooney’s floundering D.C. United. With just 22 points and a painful 49 goals allowed, D.C. United are essentially glued to the bottom of the table at this point.

Though in fairness D.C.’s goals against isn’t quite as awful… if you take out the seven the Union put on them in early July.

Scouting report: D.C. United

Possible D.C. United Lineup

D.C. United is having a rough time at the moment.

Not only are they current leaders in the race for the wooden spoon, but their back line has been absolutely decimated. Combine a spate of injuries with Steve Birnbaum’s ill-advised second yellow in Tuesday’s game against LAFC, and with just over a month on the job we don’t have enough tape on head coach Wayne Rooney yet to know what he’s going to do.

Could be he switches to a three-man back line, could be he puts in Ivorian Loudon United player Gaoussou Samaké. But the best bet appears to be United homegrown Donovan Pines, who has the stature to replace Birnbaum’s height in the back line.

Further upfield things are a little less chaotic, but with designated players Victor Pálsson and Taxi Fountas both being new to the team there’s still an obvious lack of chemistry when you watch D.C. United play this season. A situation that is only going to be made worse when the chaos at the back forces the entire midfield (and by extension front line) to play deeper than ideal. The result is an offense that isn’t toothless so much as crippled. Which means like a wounded animal it can’t do what it would if it wasn’t injured, but it sure can bite if you aren’t careful.

  • Injury report: Adrien Perez (FW, foot), Bill Hamid (GK, hand), Brad Smith (DF, knee), Brendan Hines-Ike (DF, foot), Chris Odoi-Atsem (DF, illness)
  • Suspended: Steve Birnbaum (DF, second yellow against LAFC on 8/16), no players at risk of earning an accumulation penalty.
Scouting report: Philadelphia Union

Likely Union Lineup

Right now the Union are the exact opposite of United’s chaos and unpredictability.

The starting lineup is fairly well crystallized. What questions remain of the type that shows head coach Jim Curtin anticipating how he expects the Union to play against that matches opponent, and in the case of this game against D.C. United it’s reasonable to expect that to result in an offense-forward lineup.

Even though Mikael Uhre didn’t get the full hour of rest Jim Curtin wanted when he started Cory Burke against Dallas, he should be fine to start next to Carranza. Further back, look for Olivier Mbaizo to get the pick ahead of Nate Harriel. Not because Harriel did anything wrong against Dallas, but rather because United’s back line should prove fertile hunting ground for Mbaizo’s more attack-oriented style of play.

  • Injury report: None
  • Suspended: None, with no players at risk of earning an accumulation penalty.
Key matchup: Kai Wagner vs. United defense

He hasn’t had a shining moment lately, but he’s still tied for third most assists league-wide. Between set pieces and threatening crosses Wagner can be a headache for any defense, and United’s back line is already dealing with a pretty serious migraine. Look for the German to add to his highlight reel as transfer rumors continue to accumulate.

Player to watch: José Martínez

Because of the lopsided nature of this matchup, it’s likely El Brujo won’t be the center of attention for much of this game. But that doesn’t mean his contributions won’t be significant. Midfield cohesion is already a challenge for D.C. United, and a bit of sorcery could make things even worse for them.

Prediction: D.C United 0-3 Philadelphia Union

Even with this new-look Union offense it feels ambitious to predict the Union winning by multiple goals. But most teams have figured out how to put more than one past D.C.’s atrocious defense, and the Union have already proven themselves to be particularly adept at it. It’d be too much to expect another seven point margin of victory on the road, but anything less than a decisive victory would be a tremendous disappointment.


  1. I think the prediction here may be too optimistic. The defense looked dead on their feet in Dallas, and it’s been a very short turnaround to this game. 1-2 more like it.

  2. Would like to see McGlynn get the start for Bedoya who’s played 2 full games in the last week including 104 minutes (with stoppage time) in the Texas heat Wednesday night.

  3. Murphthesurf says:

    Get all three points ⚽️ DOOP

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