Match #10 Preview: Philadelphia Union At FC Dallas

FRISCO TX - AUGUST 08: Brek Shea #20 of FC Dallas moves the ball downfield against Danny Califf #4 of the Philadelphia Union at Pizza Hut Park on August 8 2010 in Frisco Texas. FC Dallas beat the Philadelphia Union 3-1. Yes, this picture was chosen on purpose. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Setting: Saturday, May 19 at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas; kickoff scheduled for 8:36:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: The Comcast Network (JP Dellacamera, Bob Rigby), with coverage beginning at 8:00 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / FS Southwest, Azteca America TV-55 (Carlos Alvarado, Rafa Calderon, Eric Mora), KFLC-AM in Dallas / MLS Live, Direct Kick (FS Southwest feed)

Dallas's Record: 3-6-3, 12 points (sixth in West)

Dallas's Last Match: L, 2-1 at Columbus

Philadelphia vs. Dallas Last Season: 0-1-1 (Philadelphia 0 @ Dallas 2 on May 14; Dallas 2 @ Philadelphia 2 on August 13)

For the Dallas Perspective, Visit Big D Soccer

Tomorrow, Frisco will see a meeting between two struggling and wounded teams. The Philadelphia Union and FC Dallas are both riding three match losing streaks, coming off awfully physical matches, and both will be without key players they expected to have little more than a week ago. FC Dallas will be without Brek Shea, who was handed a three match suspension for intentionally kicking the ball at a linesman last week in Columbus, while the Union of course will be without former captain Danny Califf, now of Chivas USA. The loss of these players serve as further blows to both sides, both of which were already reeling beforehand. Shea is the backbone of Dallas's midfield, and the face of the franchise, while Califf has been the backbone of the Philadelphia defense since the club's first-ever match in Seattle. On the plus side, both sides do know how to play without them, with Shea occasionally away on national team duty, and Califf missing some time due to apparent injury.

Dallas has been offensively challenged, though, like the Union, so they may be the ones who are hurt the most by the first match with these changes, but in the overall scheme of things, Dallas's defense has to be the bigger overall concern. Blas Perez has been absolutely terrific up top for Dallas this season right from their opening match, and Union fans likely remember how dominant Fabian Castillo was against them when the Union were in Frisco last year, so offense is still there, albeit weakened without the raw power of the workhorse Shea in midfield. Defensively, though, Dallas has given up two goals in each of their last three matches, and they're tied for the most goals given up this season with Toronto FC (though they've played a few more matches than most teams). It won't help that defender Zach Loyd will also miss tomorrow's match after a red card suspension last week in Columbus.

Defensively for Philadelphia, it's expected that, like last week against the Red Bulls, Sheanon Williams will slot into the centerback alongside Carlos Valdes, with Raymon Gaddis and Gabriel Farfan (back for his first match after a three match suspension of his own) on the wings. Given their lack of depth along the backline, Philadelphia is awfully fortunate that the rookie Gaddis has excelled as he has, and certainly has earned his spot in the starting XI. Certainly, as a group they're going to have to be a little bit more aggressive after sitting back a bit and giving up three goals to the New York Red Bulls, though, again, there's a world of difference between the Red Bulls' offense and Dallas's.

Projected starters, injury reports and assorted match notes after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: MacMath; G. Farfan, Williams, Valdes, Gaddis; Gomez, Carroll; M. Farfan, Daniel; Mwanga, Pajoy

Dallas: Hartman; Benitez, Pertuz, John, Rodriguez; Leyva, Jacobson, Hernandez, Jackson; Perez, Castillo

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Krystian Witkowski (concussion) and Roger Torres (left knee) remain out. Chris Albright is "doubtful" due to a left big toe sprain. Freddy Adu is unavailable to play tomorrow night following his red card ejection against New York.

For Dallas, David Ferreira (right foot), Ricardo Villar (right foot strain), Andrew Wiedeman (sports hernia repair), Bobby Warshaw (right foot fracture) and Ugo Ihemelu (concussion symptoms) are all out. Carlos Rodriguez (left elbow dislocation) and Fabian Castillo (left ankle sprain) are both listed as "questionable", but are expected to be available to play. Zach Loyd and Brek Shea are both unavailable due to suspensions, of course.

Of note:

  • Mark Kadlecik is listed as tomorrow's match referee. In 19 career MLS matches, Kadlecik has called an average of about 24 fouls per match, handed out an average of between three and four yellow cards per match, given a total of five red cards and has awarded a total of six penalty kicks
  • Gabriel Gomez is one yellow card away from receiving an automatic one-match disciplinary suspension for accumulation of yellow cards.
  • Peter Nowak has said that he's considering using three forwards in tomorrow's match, hoping to jumpstart an offense that will be missing Freddy Adu. He mentioned Josue Martinez by name as a possibility, but there's also Jack McInerney and Chandler Hoffman. McInerney, in particular, seems to be seeing fewer and fewer minutes as his career with Philadelphia has progressed into its third season.
  • The Union are 0-5-0 when conceding first, while FC Dallas is 1-4-0 when conceding first. Moral of the story? The team that scores first is probably going to win.
  • The Union are winless against FC Dallas in their history (0-2-2), with both losses coming in Frisco.
  • Might Lionard Pajoy finally be warming to the task? The Colombian scored twice last week against the Red Bulls, and arguably should have had one or two more, after scoring earlier in the week against Schalke 04.
When two teams really desperate for points meet, there's sometimes a tendency for the first stretch of the match to be a little overaggressive. The Union and FC Dallas can equally ill-afford to get into another card-fest. We hope you can join us tomorrow night for a gamethread.
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