Date: Friday, March 20th
Time: 7:00 PM EDT
Venue: PPL Park
Television: UniMas, MLS Live
The Philadelphia Union are set to host FC Dallas this Friday at PPL Park, and it's coming during the midst of a storm - both literally and figuratively. The Union have seen Cristian Maidana go out for 2-4 weeks with an injury and Danny Cruz go on a season long loan to Norwegian Tippeligaen side FK Bodø/Glimt in the past two days alone, there's been palpable frustration from the club and fans regarding the past two week's refereeing performances, and oh by the way it's supposed to snow in Philadelphia.
What Philadelphia Will Look Like
The biggest obstacle facing the Union will be missing the services of Chaco Maidana. The man with the lone Union assist has looked more and more like he's ready to have a standout season, however he'll miss the next two to four weeks with a knee injury. In his place, look for young Zach Pfeffer to take on the mantle of playmaker alongside Vincent Nogueira. The loss of Maidana could also force the Union to play slightly deeper on the pitch, which will help in bottling up the potent Dallas offense. Tactically, the Union could more closely resemble a traditional 4-5-1 than the 4-2-3-1 they've employed over the first two weeks of the season since most likely any replacement for Maidana will not play an attacking midfield role, instead opting for a more central role instead.
Also, the loss of Sapong and Cruz also presents a problem at depth. If a winger needs to be subbed out, the Union will either have to push Pfeffer wide to maintain their shape or alter the formation by pushing the remaining winger (Sebastien Le Toux or Andrew Wenger - take your pick) up top with Fernando Aristeguieta and subbing in Michael Lahoud, Fred, or Brian Carroll in more of a 4-2-2-2 formation. This might not work well for the Union, as Dallas tends to rely on the speed and skill of their wingers to create chances in the box.
What Dallas Will Look Like
Dallas is a lot like the Union. They're a counterattacking team that likes to get numbers forward and attack down the wings. Chris Seitz is in goal, and he's a much improved version than was here in 2010. Zach Loyd and Moises Hernandez are an integral part of the defense, which has allowed just one goal in the two games FCD has played thus far. On the offensive side of things, look for Blas Perez, Fabian Castillo, and Mauro Diaz to link up and create chances for Dallas.
What To Expect
Remember the Colorado Rapids match? It should be like that. Two counterattacking teams, each waiting for the other to make a mistake and open up. It's also going to be cold and the weather will be awful. Look for these teams to grind out a 0-0 draw.
Editor's Note: Since the match has been postponed and will be played under better conditions, I'm changing my prediction to a 1-1 tie. The teams will still mostly wait for an opportunity to counterattack, but with better conditions they'll actually be able to succeed.