Match #22 Preview: Philadelphia Union Vs. Houston Dynamo

HOUSTON - MARCH 19: Danny Califf #4 of the Philadelphia Union celebrates with Sheanon Williams after scoring in the first half against the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium on March 19, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Setting: Saturday, August 6 at PPL Park in Chester; kickoff scheduled for 8:06:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: 6abc HD (J.P. Dellacamera, Taylor Twellman, Bob Rigby), with coverage starting at 7:30 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / KHOU 11.2 (Glenn Davis), TV Azteca-51 KYAZ (Danny Gonzalez, Diego Lopez Maradona), SportsTalk 790 KBME-AM (Jonathan Yardley) and La Ranchera 850 KEYH-AM (Daniel Mejia, Alex Parra) in Houston / MLS Direct Kick, MatchDay Live (6abc feed)

Houston's Record: 6-7-9, fifth in East

Houston's Last Match: W, 3-1 vs. Seattle

Philadelphia vs. Houston This Season: 1-0-0 (Philadelphia 1 @ Houston 0 on March 19 in the Union's regular season opener)

For the Houston Perspective, Visit Dynamo Theory

After another somewhat disappointing result, this time a 1-1 draw in Chicago, the Philadelphia Union return to PPL Park in the hopes of getting back on track and continuing to compete for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They will be welcoming the Houston Dynamo, a club that hasn't yet registered a win on the road this season, but has remained in the playoff picture and looks to be somewhat reinvigorated thanks to a big home win against Seattle, and the arrival of their newest acquisition, Honduran international Carlo Costly.

Philadelphia, whose offensive game was relatively flat on Wednesday in Chicago, save for Veljko Paunovic's long distance surprise strike and some very late chances from Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga, needs some sort of fresh blood and reinvigoration. It's hard to say much else. We've been saying for the last several weeks -- months, really -- that they need to finish on some of the chances they work so hard to create. But...they've managed to keep afloat, somehow. Wednesday's draw in Chicago, though, was much like the Union's 1-0 season opening win in Houston and several other early season matches: kind of boring, rather sloppy, and somewhat lucky.

Their defensive form, too, looks to have taken a step backwards over the last week or so. Faryd Mondragon had to make several very big, very key saves to keep Chicago from winning in a blowout, and he was certainly tested in the club's home loss last Friday to Colorado, as well. The return of Sheanon Williams to the lineup after serving a red card suspension could provide a much needed spark for Philadelphia, especially with Costly, Brian Ching, Cam Weaver and Brad Davis to worry about for Houston.

Projected starters, up-to-date injury reports and assorted match notes after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); G. Farfan, Valdes, Califf, Williams; Daniel, Carroll, Nakazawa, Mapp; Mwanga, Le Toux

Houston: Hall; Ashe, Hainault, Boswell, Freeman; Davis, Cameron, Moffat, Clark; Costly, Weaver

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Levi Houapeu, who is continuing to recover from a left ankle sprain, is considered "questionable" for tomorrow's match.

For Houston, Will Bruin and Danny Cruz are unavailable due to recovery from left knee surgery and a right quad strain, respectively. Calen Carr is dealing with a concussion and is listed as "questionable".

Of note:

  • Terry Vaughn is listed as tomorrow's match referee. In 149 career MLS matches, Vaughn has called for an average of between 28 and 29 fouls per match, handed out a little below four yellow cards per match, given a total of 48 red cards and has awarded a total of 49 penalty kicks.
  • Taylor Twellman's back! Bob Rigby will return to the sidelines for tomorrow's telecast.
  • Brad Davis, Brian Carroll and Sheanon Williams are all one caution away from receiving an automatic one-match disciplinary suspension for accumulation of yellow cards. Danny Cruz, Cam Weaver, Danny Califf, Danny Mwanga and Carlos Valdes are two yellow cards away.
  • Eight of Houston's 27 goals allowed have come in the final fifteen minutes or so of the first half, while another eight have been conceded in the final fifteen minutes or so of the second half. That's gotta be concerning for Houston, but if you're Philadelphia, there looks to be ample precedent for taking a late draw or lead into halftime or final time, should such a thing be necessary.
The Union will try to start a new unbeaten streak at home and remain in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, while the Dynamo look to keep pace with a statement result in Chester. If you're headed down to PPL Park, enjoy the match. If not, hopefully you can join us for a gamethread tomorrow night! 
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