PPL Park - Chester, Pennsylvania
May 10, 2014
4pm Eastern - MLS Live, The Comcast Network
DC United travels to Chester after a disappointing late game loss to take on the Philadelphia Union...also coming off a disappointing late game loss. Both sides made major changes in the off season and while DC has had the better of the results, it has not been without their own fair share of subpar performances. So which team will get their season back on track on Saturday?
What to expect from DC United
Before Portland stole a late winner last week, DC was on an unbeaten run that spanned all 4 games in April and the last game in March. Three wins and two draws in that span had fans of the Red and Black happy after a very long 2013 season. Ben Olson looks to have his retooled team getting on a roll despite that late loss in Portland.
As previously mentioned, DC's big changes happened all over their lineup. Of the Starting XI that lined up against the Union on October 12, 2013 (a 1-1 draw), only five of those players started last week against Portland. That lineup could see even more new faces with Eddie Johnson and Sean Franklin missing out last week due to injury. Despite a slow start to the season, if EJ is healthy, the Union defense will have their hands full. Johnson has fallen off the World Cup radar and will want to make a late splash to grab the attention of Jurgen Klinsmann. Davy Arnaud is another familiar face the Union will be seeing in Red and Black for the first time.
It will also be the first time Jeff Parke returns to PPL Park after leaving due to "personal reasons" and paving the way for Maurice Edu's addition to the Union. Playing an old employer is always good for additional motivation for a next level performance, but depending on the "personal reasons" Parke may be looking to prove a point in front of his hometown. Not exactly what a sputtering offense wants to run up against.
What to expect from the Philadelphia Union
If you're one of the growing numbers that want to see major change to jump start the season, I hate to rain on your parade. Unless John Hackworth is setting up to troll us all, he has no intentions of showing any desperation. Expect a very similar 4-3-3 formation with no real changes from what we have seen. In the back the only possible switch would be to bring Austin Berry back into the lineup after the Aaron Wheeler experiment has seemed to lose steam. Don't count on it though.
If you're the betting type, you should feel pretty safe in betting on the Maurice Edu - Brian Carroll - Vincent Nogueira trio to start. For the most part this grouping has looked decent when in possession. The ball movement against Seattle - especially in the first half - was impressive. Constantly rotating, finding the holes in the Seattle midfield and moving the ball up field. On defense, however, there seems to be a lack of discipline and urgency in helping the defense. The Obafemi Martins goal was yet another example of why Edu will struggle to make the World Cup roster as Martins started level with Edu at the 18, but floated into the box to finish off a rebound while Edu moved only one step in the same span of time. Gotta expect more defensively from the Union midfield.
The front trio is the real question mark. Andrew Wenger is the closest thing to a lock, but could play the point, or on the wing. If Conor Casey is brought back into the lineup Wenger slides wide and either Sebastien Le Toux or Cristian Maidana return to the bench. If Wenger holds on to the point position, Hackworth could either stick with the Maidana/LeToux wide combo, or shuffle the pack and bring Danny Cruz and Fabinho back into the mix. Either way, the wingers need to be producing and forcing the DC full backs to stay home instead of adding to the DC attack.
Vincent Nogueira - Brian Carroll - Maurice Edu
Andrew Wenger - Conor Casey - Cristian Maidana
It will be an emotional game as the Union return home for the first time since the passing of Eric Shertz. The Sons of Ben will be on their A game and be fully behind the team. If you don't have tickets yet, make sure to be there and pack the house. It hasn't looked like happening in the recent games, but I did tell myself I would be more positive this season, so this is the one that the Union turn the season around. It's not going to be a boring game, so I am expecting a 3-2 Union victory. They leave it late, but it will be a game to remember.