CHESTER, PA- AUGUST 06: Colin Clark #7 of the Houston Dynamo and Gabriel Farfan #15 of the Philadelphia Union jump for the ball at PPL Park on August 6, 2011 in Chester, Pennsylvania. The game ended 1-1. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Zach Woosley of Dynamo Theory, SB Nation's Houston Dynamo blog, and I chatted ahead of today's Union-Dynamo game at PPL Park.
Scott: The regular season series is 2-0-2 in favor of the Union, with both wins for the Union away in Houston. Do you see the pattern continuing with another draw in Philadelphia, or do you think it will be an offensive display that will result in a high scoring result for either side?
Zach: I'm fairly confident the Dynamo will be playing for a draw, they'd never admit it of course, but they'll be perfectly happy to grind out a boring result and head back to Houston. The weather could change everything though of course and I know Philly will attack, so the Dynamo will probably sit pack and soak up pressure and look to counter. If they have their way, there won't be an offensive display.
Scott: A lot of people are thinking that Nowak will take a very offensive approach anhope to be able to sit back a bit in Houston in or to progress.
Zach: Given the Union have a speed advantage it would make sense since that advantage will do them more good at PPL than Robertson.
Scott: Though maybe not in this weather.
Zach: What's the current forecast for tomorrow?
Scott: Tomorrow is going to be a sunny 40 something, then incredibly cold at night.
Zach: Lovely. That should help the Dyanmo's plan. Any concern about the Union's youth at key positions and lack of playoff experience, or will the veterans help balance that out?
Scott: There's a nice core of veterans that play around the rookies/youth players on the team. Brian Carroll is one of the winning-est players in MLS history, Faryd Mondragon played in Europe with Galatasaray, Danny Califf was part of multiple playoff teams in his first stint in MLS and Sebastien Le Toux has been around soccer for a long time now. Plus there's Stefani Miglioranzi, Justin Mapp and Veljko Paunovic to bring knowledge and big game experience to the team.
Zach: Experience definitely shouldn't be an issue either way then. I think most Dynamo fans see this series being pretty even, but I wouldn't blame Union fans for feeling they have the advantage, am I wrong in that view?
Scott: Depends on whether or not one places value on regular season games when thinking about the favorite in the series.
Zach: You can't ignore them, but there's a reason people love to say the playoffs are a whole new season, or some derivative of that.
Scott: The main reason to go with that train of thought is that Houston is a completely different team than the one that played the Union this season.
Zach: No question that's true. This team has finally gotten it's act together down the strech. Kinnear finally settling on a lineup in the defense has helped, along with the addition of Adam Moffat, that was a huge trade for the Dynamo.
Scott: The same thing could be said of the Union, though. After an awful run of form during the summer and into September, Philadelphia is almost a completely different team.
Zach: Making this matchup even harder to handicap, there's a lot of reasons both teams could win.
Scott: I think it will come down to the goalkeepers, just a feeling.
Zach: It very well could, the Dynamo defense is bound to make a mistake (they always do) and Tally Hall being able to save their butts could be the difference in the series.
Scott: Likewise for Mondragon. Despite the high level of play that the Union have had defensively this season, a dumb mistake happens every once in a while. He's bailed them out a couple of times this year because of his excellent positioning and intuition. Something I've wondered all season: why hasn't Sarkodie played much?
Zach: Kinnear doesn't trust his defense. He's an offensive minded fullback and the biggest mark against him coming out of Akron was his ability to defend at the professional level. Ideally, I think he'd do better in an advanced wing position but the Dynamo are stacked in the midfield on the wings. He got some chances, but he made too many glaring mistakes for Kinnear to be able to trust him.
Zach: He's played regularly in the reserve league, but you know he's just not where he needs to be when Kinnear continues to play people out of position at Sarkodie's natural position. That or the Dyanmo wanted to ensure he spends another season with his GA status intact.
Scott: Sounds like a lot of teams in regard to GAs.
He was a SuperDraft target for a lot of Union fans hoping for improved defense, but never really made too much sense for the Union to draft since he plays on the right side of defense. There was a bit of talk about him moving centrally, but I'm guessing that won't happen.
Zach: I don't see it honestly there's been speculation here that Will Bruin has been held back since his injury intentionally to try to keep his minutes down, especially with Danny Cruz all but guaranteed to graduate
Scott: He also cooled off a little bit too after it, right?
Zach: Yeah, he'd cooled off before the injury but he was tearing up the reserve league the past month or so, yet never sniffed the first team. Costly, Carr and Ching have been eating up the minutes
Scott: It's interesting that Ching has been eating up minutes. He's had a lot of problems with injuries himself this year.
Zach: Yeah, he's not been healthy again this year but when he can play, he's still capable of scoring and forces defenses to pay attention to him. Really it was Cam Weaver who was carrying the forward duties most of the summer while Carr and Ching recovered and he was injured too, he played hurt for a couple months until they could afford to shut him down and get surgery. He earned a ton of respect for that. The key for the Dynamo offense will be Carlo Costly, he finally got a goal so hopefully he can start lighting it up for us.
Scott: If Ching plays, I definitely see him as the biggest threat to the Union defense. Davis connection with him on set pieces is probably the worst thing the Union can have happen.
Zach: The Dynamo are downright dangerous on set pieces.
Scott: Which just so happens to be the weak point of the Union defense.
Zach: How do you see your defense dealing with Brad Davis? Does the likes of Cruz or Clark on the other side concern you enough to not over play towards the left to deal with Davis?
Scott: I don't think that the Union think of Cruz and Clark of that big of a problem right now. Davis is the 'dangerman'. He can do almost anything on a set piece.
Zach: That he is, though the addition of Camargo inside has helped a great deal, he's allowed Davis to become more dangerous because he doesn't have to try so hard to make the offense work, he can just play his position and find opportunities.