is listed as out according to yesterday's MLS Injury Report, but is questionable in the Union's game preview. is out, Konopka starting.
A blow to the head in practice and multiple run-ins with opposing players has left the Philadelphia Union with only one option in goal heading into today's game against Toronto FC.
Chris Konopka will
most likely feature in net for the Union against Toronto out of necessity, not choice. While the former New York Red Bulls net minder did well versus FC Schalke 04 in a friendly, he has only a 2-2 draw - in which Konopka was less than stellar - on his record in MLS.
Starting goalkeeper Zac MacMath has suffered from concussion symptoms ever since David Estrada, a striker for the Seattle Sounders, accidentally kneed him in the head two weeks ago. The 20-year-old former University of Maryland star played versus the New York Red Bulls the following Saturday, but he was hit in the head by a ball during practice last week and missed the Union's 1-1 draw with FC Dallas because of a reoccurrence of concussion symptoms.
MacMath's backup, Chase Harrison, performed amirably in his first ever professional game, starting against Dallas. The lone goal that he gave up was to Panamanian striker Blas Perez, who was left almost unmarked by a flat footed and seemingly unaware Keon Daniel at the back post on a corner.
The former emergency pool goalkeeper, as was Konopka prior to joining the Union on a contract, played a lot of the game with a sprained ankle after multiple instances of opposing players interfering with Harrison as he collected the ball. No cards were issued on Dallas players at any point, despite Harrison being worse for wear throughout last Saturday's match.
The former Irish double winning 'keeper has the potential to cover when needed, but he has been relatively untested since playing his last game for Waterford United in 2010. Already without midfield stalwart Gabriel Gomez, who also has led the team in scoring since the opening game of 2012, the Union will need the a good game out of Konopka, like Harrison last week, to prevent becoming the first team this year to drop points to Toronto in MLS play.
Other Questions Today:
- Will Amobi Okugo fill in for Gomez? He did last week against Dallas and came close to winning the game for the Union. Okugo has done well this season when coming in as a substitute or otherwise and has the chance to possibly stake his claim to becoming a starter in the near future for the Union. The former first rounder has the talent to succeed as a box-to-box midfielder, especially if he works on his shooting.
- Can a small, weaker defense survive? This game will be the second without former captain Danny Califf, who was traded to Chivas USA for Michael Lahoud and allocation money. Without Califf, the Union have little height or size in the back and the back line was accosted physically against Dallas through Perez and others. Time will tell on whether or not the Califf trade was the right move, but for now it will be seen if the Union defense can handle players like Danny Koevermans.
- Whose job is more at risk with a poor result today, Aron Winter or Peter Nowak? Winter's TFC would be 0-10-0 with a loss and Nowak's Union would remain mired in a disappointing start to the season. It would appear that Winter would have to be fired with a loss, but would the possibility of Nowak's dismissal become ever greater? Perhaps.