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Match #17 Preview: Philadelphia Union At DC United

WASHINGTON - AUGUST 22: Danny Allsopp #9 of D.C. United controls the ball against Philadelphia Union at RFK Stadium on August 22 2010 in Washington DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - AUGUST 22: Danny Allsopp #9 of D.C. United controls the ball against Philadelphia Union at RFK Stadium on August 22 2010 in Washington DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
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Setting: Saturday, July 2 at RFK Stadium in Washington; kickoff scheduled for 7:06:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: Soccer Night in America on Fox Soccer (J.P. Dellacamera, Kyle Martino, Brian Dunseth) nationally, coverage starting at 6:30 PM / Fox Deportes nationally / MLS Direct Kick, MatchDay Live (Canada only -- Fox Soccer feed)

DC's Record: 4-5-6, fifth in East

DC's Last Match: T, 2-2 at Houston

Philadelphia vs. DC Last Season: 1-1-0 (DC 2 @ Philadelphia 3 on April 10 in Philadelphia's first-ever home match at the Linc, featuring their first-ever win, first-ever goal and first-ever hat trick in MLS play; Philadelphia 0 @ DC 2 on August 28)

For the DC Perspective, Visit Black And Red United

After a rewarding 3-2 home victory against Chivas USA that saw the club successfully come back from a 1-0 deficit and overcome an emotionally draining Justin Braun chip that tied the match in the 77th minute to ultimately take full points, the Philadelphia Union embark on a three match road trip before returning home to take on Everton and Real Madrid in international friendlies. They start, fittingly, in our nation's capitol on the weekend of the fourth of July, in a nationally-televised match against rival DC United.

This match will mark the official half-way point of the Union's regular season MLS schedule. And, so far, so good -- Philadelphia will enter the match in first place of their conference by two points. This after barely sniffing anywhere but the bottom of the standings last year. Of course, success can be measured qualitatively as well as quantitatively, and it doesn't take an expert to see that the demeanor of the entire organization -- players, coaches and front office members -- is so, so different. With an epic four month collapse excepted, a playoff appearance seems more than probable.

Unlike the Union, whose roster has remained relatively stable throughout its first half, United just this week made a major shakeup, working with the New York Red Bulls to swap Dax McCarty for Dwayne De Rosario. He becomes an immediate area of target for Philadelphia, who will look to do basically what they've done all season: play another solid match. Continuing to finish chances like they did against Chivas wouldn't hurt, either. What else is there to say or ask for, really?

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

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams; Mapp, Carroll, Paunovic, Le Toux; Mwanga, Ruiz

DC United: Hamid; Woolard, Kitchen, White, Zayner; Pontius, King, Simms, Najar; Davies, Wolff

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Veljko Paunovic is considered "questionable" with a left hip strain, while Danny Califf and Carlos Ruiz have been deemed "probable" despite a clavicle contusion and a rib contusion, respectively.

For DC, Branko Boskovic, Dejan Jakovic, Devon McTavish and Santino Quaranta are unavailable due to a left ACL tear, a left hamstring strain, and concussions, respectively. Marc Burch is listed as "doubtful" with a right hamstring sprain. Charlie Davies, Kurt Morsink, Joseph Ngwenya and Jed Zayner are all considered "questionable" with a right ankle sprain, another right ankle sprain, a right MCL sprain and a left knee sprain, respectively.

Of note:

  • Abbey Okulaja is listed as tomorrow's match referee. In 109 career MLS matches, he has called an average of just over 27 fouls per match, handed out an average of just over three yellow cards per match, given a total of 18 red cards, and has called for a total of 25 penalty kicks.
  • Carlos Valdes will be given an automatic one game disciplinary suspension should be receive a yellow card in tomorrow's match. Danny Califf, Brian Carroll, Jordan Harvey, Danny Mwanga and Sheanon Williams are currently two yellow cards away from receiving an automatic disciplinary suspension.
  • Courtesy of Opta, we learn that DC United is the only team in MLS that hasn't conceded a goal from outside of the penalty box. So don't expect any Danny Mwanga specials from five yards outside of the box tomorrow.
  • On the other hand, seven of DC's 27 goals conceded in MLS play this season have come from minute 76 on. Maybe a Mwanga goal's not out of the realm of possibility after all, then.
  • DC hasn't scored on a header yet this year. Sorry in advance for potentially jinxing it.
The first of two meetings in this regular season between the Union and DC United ought to be a great one. United looks to break out from the middle of the East, into the upper-tier, while the Union look to remain on top of their conference. We'll have the gamethread up about an hour prior to kickoff; hope you can join us!