Here's the starting 11 I think the Philadelphia Union will use against FC Dallas, with thoughts on why and how they've played so far this year.:
- Goalkeeper: Faryd Mondragon - The big Colombian told Union reporters that he wouldn't play unless he felt he would be able to go at 100 percent and threw his support behind young back up Zac MacMath if not. The competitive streak in Mondragon will not let him miss this game, with only a probable injury listing.
- Right back: Sheanon Williams - No injury, consistently great play, youth and speed mean that Williams will be a mainstay for games to come, as he has been since late in 2010.
- Center back: Carlos Valdes - If Valdes continues to play as he has, there's no question the first year MLS player, and Colombian international, will make the list for MLS XI. His technical ability is exciting, but sometimes dangerous, in the back. This was evident when the 25-year-old managed to flick the ball to himself and scissor kick a clearance past a close opponent against the San Jose Earthquakes.
- Center back: Danny Califf - This season has been a resurgence for Califf. Perhaps it was the removal of the captain's arm band, which was given to Mondragon prior to the Union's first game in 2011. Maybe it was the addition of Valdes, who has combined well with Califf. In the end, Califf has seemingly gained his youth back, evidenced by his tracking down of an opponent on a breakaway against the Lose Angeles Galaxy. Never would have happened last year. He brings a physicality that breaks down opposing forwards that helps to prevent shots on goal, which has certainly benefited the 39-year-old Mondragon.
- Left back: Jordan Harvey - Michael Farfan and Gabriel Farfan have been on Union fan minds after their exciting displays against the Portland Timbers and Earthquakes. But it has been Harvey that has been the most consistent of three, despite his speed and agility problems. Some believe that Michael Farfan has the attacking ability that is necessary to help the Union's midfield find some creativity and linking play, though the defense. The thing is that Harvey is constantly the highest player up the pitch on the left side. The Union's attack finds itself drifting to the right most of the time, leaving swaths of space for him to move with the ball... if he ever received it. Sure, Harvey's touch isn't the best, but he typically does well enough on the ball to warrant moving the ball out to him.
- Right Attacking Midfielder: Sebastien Le Toux - He's off this year. Pick your reason: Chemistry with Ruiz, lack of linking play from the midfield or just simply because last year was the crowning moment of his career. His touch is off, his passing is lacking and his shooting just is not the same. It doesn't appear that the Frenchman is lacking in confidence, but something is wrong. Head coach Piotr Nowak might try to give Le Toux as much room as possible to wreak havoc upon Dallas' defense.
The rest of the possible line-up after the jump.
- Central Defensive Midfielder: Amobi Okugo - The young midfielder has both impressed and disappointed this season. The high point of his second season in MLS was when he helped to provide the Union with the eventual winner against San Jose, when his cross inside the box was handled by Earthquakes defender Jason Hernandez. He was criticized for his ineffective play against Portland, but wasn't terrible in that game. Okugo deserves the start no matter what, because giving him playing time and experience is more important that playing Kyle Nakazawa, who has yet to put in a decent game, or the frustrating Stefani Miglioranzi. Additionally, Okugo is the future of the midfield for the Union and should be treated as such.
- Central Midfielder: Brian Carroll - Nowak brought in Carroll as the hardened MLS veteran who would change the Union midfield's inconsistency from 2010 and provide the team with some distribution out of it. So far Carroll has had one fantastic game, in which he had over 92 percent passing, and a lot of ones where he seemed to disappear. Carroll needs to show the play that made him into one of the winningest players in MLS history in order for the Union to click.
- Left Attacking Midfielder: Michael Farfan - Yes, Farfan has been converted into a fullback and has played well when asked to do so for the Union this season. Farfan, however, made his bones playing in the midfield in college and was highly rated because of it. He was predicted as a first round pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft but slipped into the second round, falling to the Union. At the SuperDraft I asked him where he's comfortable playing, and it's on the outside of the field. Putting him at left midfield will bring some excitement and speed to an outside midfield position for the Union. Sounds good.
- Right Striker: Danny Mwanga - The former first overall pick did what every striker needs to do when he's on a cold streak - be opportunistic. That's exactly what the Democratic Republic of the Congo born forward did against the Los Angeles Galaxy, stepping in front of Donovan Ricketts and slotting a poor pass from a Galaxy defender into the back of the Galaxy net. With more playing time and more starts, Mwanga should get back to his 2010 form.
- Left Striker: Carlos Ruiz - Just read Kerith Gabriel's piece for Philly.com on the Guatemalan striker.
What do you think of this possible line up? What do you think about these players so far this season?