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Match Preview: A letter to the Philadelphia Union

A letter to the Union imploring them to turn their season around against D.C. United.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Union,

Pleeeaaase. Please! If you could find a way to fill the stadium with the joyous sound of our voices singing "DOOP!" this Sunday. If you could turn this tragic season around. Please do this now against DC United. Why do we implore you now? Because they are a rival for one. But there is another reason. If the season continues as its going we will have to look to them for hope. See, just two seasons ago they put together one of the worst seasons in league history. It was glorious! We really relished their pain. Trouble is now the Union are having that kind of season. You are on pace to be that bad.

But since then D.C. United has been the best team in the East. It's incredible how fast they turned it around. They kept their coach through the down times and have quickly built a winner. If the Union end up having one of the worst seasons in history, fans will have no choice but to look to D.C. United for hope. We'll want to be just like DC United. That would be awful.

Here's what we know about D.C. United. They have lost just once this season and they are built on defense. They've allowed just eight goals in ten games this year. What's strange is that they give up a lot of shots. They actually give up the second most shots per game in the league at fifteen. D.C. United will sit deep and make it tough to find a crack in their defense. But you can get shots against them. When teams do get a shot on target, United has the best goalkeeper in the business. Bill Hamid leads the league saving 81% of the shots he faces. The rest of the league saves 70%. But Union, if you could just find a way to slot one through this defense, you have a chance at a result.

Their offense is using a committee to score. Nine different players have contributed to their modest thirteen goals. They're led by Chris Rolfe with three goals, but their leading offensive player last year Fabian Espindola hasn't gotten into form yet. If he plays their attack could get potent.

So Union, you'll get possession and you should be able to get shots, but they won't be easy. And be wary of the counterattack and set pieces. They lead the league in counterattack goals and are second in set piece goals. You don't defend either well.

But I don't mean to get you down. This franchise really needs a win!

Now onto the Union. You lost Aristeguieta this week to the Venezuelan National team. That's great for him. Bad for you. Losing Aristeguieta really hurts this team, because CJ Sapong is suspended and that leaves just Conor Casey as a forward you can depend on. He probably can't go 90 minutes either. Does that mean we'll see a few minutes of Dzenan Catic? You always have Sebastian Le Toux in a pinch. Which reminds me....about that goal I've been begging you to score. Le Toux, Wenger and Casey are due for one. Last year they combined to score 26 goals and had 13 assists. The trio has yet to score a goal and has just one assist between them. It's time they find a way to get it done.

On the backline, all of a sudden Richie Marquez is a vital piece on defense. What happened there?  Now that he is unfairly suspended and with Steven Vitoria hurt, it looks like you have to move Maurice Edu back to pair with Ethan White. With Lahoud hurt because of the new turf that was put down, you really only have Carroll at defensive midfield.

On the attack you need to find a way to take pressure off Maidana. Teams realize he is your most dangerous offensive player and they have been taking away his space. A player like Wenger won't be effective against D.C. United so play Pfeffer on the wing. He can help with possession and take some pressure off Maidana. The return of Nogueira to the starting XI should help that as well.

As for goalkeeper, ugh. We are tired. Play whoever is healthy. We hope for the best.

I was going to encourage you to change formations to the 4-4-2, and to use that block of eight to shore up the defensive shape that too often turns into my four year old's school drawings. But since there aren't really two forwards who could play 90 minutes, I think you need to stick with what isn't working. Here's how I see it shaping up.

So here we are Union. It's beyond ugly and nothing about this game looks promising. They have one loss. You have one win. You haven't scored on D.C. United since 2013. But we feel like none of that matters. You're not going to let us down this game. You will find a way to get that ball across their line. You'll find a way to stop their many headed attack. Someway, somehow. We will all DOOP it up, and whatever this is will start going in the right direction. Because I don't want to think about what will happen if you don't.


The Brotherly Game