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Match #9 Preview: Philadelphia Union at FC Dallas

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D'oh.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
D'oh. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Setting: Saturday, May 14 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas; kickoff scheduled for 8:36:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: The Comcast Network (J.P. Dellacamera, Taylor Twellman), with coverage starting at 8:00 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / Fox Sports Southwest (Bobby Rhine, Steve Jolley), Univision Radio KFLC 1270 AM (Carlos Alvarado, Rafael Calderon) in Dallas / MLS Direct Kick, MLS MatchDay Live (Fox Sports Southwest feed)

Dallas' Record: 4-3-2, fourth in West

Dallas' Last Match: W, 1-0 vs. Toronto FC

Philadelphia vs. Dallas Last Season: 0-1-1 (Dallas 1 @ Philadelphia 1 on May 15 at Lincoln Financial Field; Philadelphia 1 @ Dallas 3 on August 8)

For the Dallas Perspective, Visit Big D Soccer

Just three days after securing a late draw at home against the LA Galaxy, the Philadelphia Union will be back in action, this time in Frisco to take on 2010 MLS Cup finalist FC Dallas. Tomorrow's match will conclude a tough stretch of three matches in eight nights for the Union, which has seen them travel cross-country to Portland, back to Philadelphia, and now to Texas. They will cover a total total distance of just over 7300 miles by air in the process.

Though the idea of playing in Frisco may not be the flashiest one could conjure up for Major League Soccer -- in addition to the often sparse crowds, the weather has been brutal over the past few weeks, though it should be nice and cool by tomorrow night -- the Union will face an awfully tough task in FC Dallas, who are continuing their very solid run from a year ago. And you would think that Brek Shea will be as on top of his game as ever, given yesterday's announcement of his contract extension through 2015.

Whether Faryd Mondragon (whose status will be a game-time decision tomorrow night) cannot go or can go but is not at 100%, the Union will need to continue to play strong in front of their goalkeeper -- whomever that is. Yes, it's always a given of course that teams need to do that, but especially when arguably your top-performer throughout the early season may not be himself. Set-piece defense in particular will need to improve. The Union will also need to continue the offensive play that they seemed to be picking up on in the second half against LA. This is sounding like a broken record at this point, but scoring one goal (or none) in every match isn't going to get you very far, no matter how well you defend.

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

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon/MacMath (game time decision); Harvey, Califf, Valdes, Williams; Mapp, Carroll, Torres; Ruiz, Mwanga, Le Toux

Dallas: Hartman; Loyd, Ihemelu, John, Jackson; Hernandez; Shea, Jacobson, Alexander, Chavez; Castillo

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, goalkeeper Thorne Holder remains out following a concussion, Stefani Miglioranzi is considered "doubtful" with a right groin strain, and Gabe Farfan is listed as "probable" despite a left hamstring sprain. Again, Faryd Mondragon's status is, as of right now, a game-time decision.

For Dallas, Edson Edward, Jair Benitez, Maykel Galindo, Milton Rodriguez and of course David Ferreira are unavailable due to a right knee ACL tear, a left knee issue, a left plantar fascia strain, iliotibial band syndrome and a broken right ankle, respectively. Yeesh. Bruno Guarda (remember him?) is considered "probable" despite a right hip flexor strain. Victor Ulloa is unavailable due to national team duties with the U.S. U-20s.

Of note:

  • Jasen Anno is scheduled to be tomorrow's match referee. In 22 career MLS matches, Anno has called for an average of between 22 and 23 fouls per match, given an average of just over three yellow cards per match, handed out a total of 15 red cards (that's a red card for ~68% of his matches), and called for a total of six penalty kicks.
  • Although all indications have been that Mondragon might be able to play through his apparent groin pull, the Union should absolutely be cautious in handling this situation. There is literally no point in unnecessarily risking further injury for perhaps your most important player in mid-May. If this was September, October or November, we'd be saying something different, but right now, if Mondragon's not fully ready to play, don't push the injury. Though rookie Zac MacMath would be making his first career MLS start, MacMath undoubtedly has the skill and credentials to give Mondragon a spell for a match or two if he needs it.
  • Speaking of young 'keepers, Chris Seitz, who is a member of FC Dallas now, unfortunately hasn't gotten into an MLS match yet for them and, barring injury to Kevin Hartman or an extraordinarily poor performance from Hartman, won't see any action tomorrow. Hopefully Seitz will get a second chance, and an opportunity to redeem himself for some poor play with the Union last season, sooner rather than later.
  • Dallas has scored four of its eleven goals in the last fifteen minutes of its MLS matches this year. If the Union are in a position to gain a result tomorrow night, they will need to go into total lockdown to close out the match.
The atmosphere in Dallas might not be the most exciting in the world, but for whatever reason I always find that watching those kinds of away matches are tied with watching away matches at places with electric atmospheres (and not just in soccer). If the Union are able to come away with a result -- perhaps even three points -- it'll be that much more fun. Hope you can join us tomorrow night for a gamethread!