Following their 3-1 triumph over New England last weekend, Jim Curtin and the Philadelphia Union will travel to Frisco to take on FC Dallas. Dallas currently sits in fourth place in the Western Conference, though they've played more games than anyone else in the league. They're undefeated in their last three, but will be coming into this game the wearier team, having played Sunday instead of Saturday.
Dallas winger Fabian Castillo has been suspended through the month of July, meaning that he won't be available to face the Union on Friday. Castillo has always been known as a speedster, but his poor decision-making and inability to finish have prevented him from becoming a star over the past few years. He's looked different this year, however. Castillo currently leads his team in shots, shots on goal, and shots on goal percentage. He is also the team's joint top scorer. Je-Vaughn Watson, who will step into Castillo's place, also possesses a bit of speed, but is much streakier when it comes to producing goals. Through nearly 5000 minutes, Watson only has six goals and five assists in his career.
Le Toux is a Striker Again
For the first time since 2011, Sebastien Le Toux, the striker, is a Union player. I'm sure that those reading do not need to be reminded that he recorded 25 goals and 20 assists with the Union before Peter Nowak traded him to Vancouver. When John Hackworth reacquired him in 2013, he deployed him as a winger, a position with which Le Toux was admittedly uncomfortable. Last season, Le Toux took 1.4 shots per 90 minutes, compared to his rate of 2.8 shots per 90 in 2010 and 2011. He only scored three goals last year, and though he tallied a career-high 12 assists, his service was still unimpressive.
Curtin has been in charge for three games, and he's started Le Toux twice--both times at forward. In those games, Le Toux has been paired with either Andrew Wenger or Conor Casey, both of whom functioned as a target man. Le Toux scored four goals in his time up top, and seems to enjoy being a goal-scorer again. If he can ride this wave of confidence, he'd provide a steady scoring option that this team has lacked since Jack McInerney was traded.
Danny Cruz's speed and Cristian Maidana's service proves to be too much for an injured FC Dallas backline. Dallas could be forced to start Nicholas Walker, a rookie who has played three minutes this seasons, in center defense, alongside Stephen Keel, who is FCD's third-choice center back. Casey and Le Toux's experience in front of goal will show on the night, as the Union defeat Dallas 2-0.