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Match #6 Preview: Philadelphia Union At Chivas USA

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Setting: Saturday, April 21 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.; kickoff scheduled for 10:36:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: The Comcast Network (JP Dellacamera, Bob Rigby), with coverage beginning at 10:00 PM Eastern with a pre-game show / PRIME TICKET (Christian Miles, Allen Hopkins), KWHY-TV/XEWW-AM (Hipólito Gamboa, Rigo Cervantez) in Los Angeles / MLS Live, Direct Kick (PRIME TICKET feed)

Chivas's Record: 3-3-0, six points (fifth in West)

Chivas's Last Match: W, 1-0 at Toronto

Philadelphia vs. Chivas Last Season: 1-0-1 (Chivas 2 @ Philadelphia 3 on June 25; Philadelphia 1 @ Chivas 1 on October 2)

For the Chivas Perspective, Visit The Goat Parade

After finally securing its first victory of the season, the Philadelphia Union have traveled cross-country to take on Chivas USA tomorrow night. After finishing the last two seasons in the bottom third of the standings, Chivas -- despite a bit of a rocky start, losing their first two matches -- have really come on strong as the side rounded into form, winning three of their next four matches. The goats' success have to be looked at as one of the early surprises of this MLS season, along of course with the struggles of the LA Galaxy. Indeed, those were hardly easy points for them to take either, as all three victories came on the road in the tough environs of Salt Lake City, Portland and Toronto. But that's also exactly why the Union have to feel like they've got a fighting chance tomorrow night, and why Chivas might have a little something extra on their minds tomorrow night: all three of their victories have come on the road, while they've lost all three of their home matches thus far, which is just plain odd, especially in a league where home/road splits in any given season tend significantly favor the home side.

Chivas have had a problem scoring goals both at home and on the road, something hardly familiar to the Union. They've been shutout in each of their three losses, and have scored a total of four goals in their three wins. Like Philadelphia early last season with Faryd Mondragon, the goats have been able to hang on to their results despite a broad lack of offense thanks to a rock solid goalkeeper in Dan Kennedy holding down the fort and directing the backline. Fortunately for them, though, their offensive abilities could very well be taken up a notch or three tomorrow night, as Juan Pablo Angel is expected to be available for the first time since opening weekend after dealing with a concussion. Angel is one of the best MLS has ever had, and though he's starting to get up there in age, if Union defenders can't keep Angel in front of them, he will get his chances, which he won't often miss on.

The Union had another solid defensive showing last week, though, notching their second consecutive clean sheet and extending their team-wide shutout streak to 242 minutes. Zac MacMath was again equal parts strong and aggressive in goal, and rookie Raymon Gaddis, who received his first MLS start quite literally at the last minute last week after Danny Califf re-tweaked a hamstring during warmups, was also surprisingly collected and impressively effective. Gaddis is expected to get the start again in place of Califf tomorrow night. Offensively, Philadelphia looked more fluid and cohesive than they had in some time, though they continue to have trouble finishing, and wouldn't have even gotten their lone goal against Columbus were it not for penalty due to a handball in the box. Freddy Adu had a particularly strong outing, though he was substituted out in the 62nd minute, as did Keon Daniel and Gabriel Gomez, the latter converting the aforementioned penalty kick for Philadelphia. Encouragingly, Danny Mwanga is working his way back from his rib injury, and might be available for the team.

Projected lineups, injury reports and assorted notes after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: MacMath; Gaddis, Valdes, Williams, G. Farfan; Carroll, Gomez; Adu, Daniel, M. Farfan; Pajoy

Chivas USA: Kennedy; Jazic, Pearce, McKenzie, Riley; Zemanski, Minda; Smith, LaBrocca, Moreno; Angel

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, Krystian Witkowski (concussion) and Roger Torres (left knee/MCL) remain unavailable. Danny Califf is listed as "questionable" due to his left hamstring strain, though it's important to repeat that Union manager Peter Nowak said he expects Califf to essentially be unavailable as well. Sheanon Williams (lip laceration) and Carlos Valdes (right calf strain) are both listed as "probable" for tomorrow.

For Chivas, Marvin Iraheta (left knee ACL) is out. Pete Vagenas (rib contusion) is listed as "questionable", while Michael Lahoud (right hamstring strain) and Ben Zemanski (right knee MCL sprain) are both considered "probable". Again, to repeat, Juan Pablo Angel's concussion symptoms appear to have cleared up, and he's expected to be available tomorrow night unless Angel or team doctors spot the symptoms resurfacing.

Of note:

  • Juan Guzman is listed as tomorrow's match referee. In just nine career MLS matches, Guzman has called an average of 28 fouls per match, handed out an average of between three and four yellow cards per match, given a total of four red cards and has awarded a total of two penalty kicks.
  • Chivas's Oswaldo Minda will receive an automatic one-match disciplinary suspension for yellow card accumulation if he receives one tomorrow. Philadelphia's Gabriel Gomez is two yellow cards away from receiving the same thing.
  • Chivas have yet to allow more than a single goal in any given match. A lot of the credit for that goes to goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, the reigning MLS Player of the Week.
  • Interestingly, though, two of the three Chivas goals against have come directly off of corner kicks, and the other has come off of a cross in open play. Might the Union be looking to swing into the box whenever they get a chance?
  • In addition to likely welcoming back Angel, Chivas also has acquired 19-year old Colombian striker José Erik Correa, who tallied six times in twelve matches with his Colombian top flight club.
  • All three Union goals this season have come from deadball situations. The open play chances have been there for Philadelphia, and are beginning to increase in number and quality as the last couple of matches have gone on, but you're not going to leave the bottom part of the standings unless that gets fixed -- and pronto.

The Union go for just their second victory on the West Coast in their history (1-7-4 in Pacific Time Zone venues all-time), while Chivas hopes to welcome back Juan Pablo Angel and finally deliver a positive result to their fans. Late night soccer is always a treat, and we hope you'll be able to join us tomorrow night for a gamethread!