Game: Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union
Date: Saturday, July 2nd, 2016
Time: 9:00 P.M. EDT
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium, Houston, Texas
Officials: REF: Edvin Jurisevic AR1: Mike Rottersman AR2: Andrew Bigelow 4TH: Ismail Elfath
Television: The Comcast Network
Streaming: MLS Live
How the Union will look: The Union will play the Dynamo on just three-days rest, as they hosted New York in U.S. Open Cup action earlier in the week. Jim Curtin hasn't shown a tendency to rotate the squad too much, but we can expect to see a few changes from Wednesday. The most notable one will be at striker, where the status of the first-, second-, and third-choice options are all up in the air. CJ Sapong will be "a factor" tomorrow, according to Curtin, but it's unknown whether or not he will start. Fabian Herbers's timeline is less clear, as he picked up a hamstring injury on Tuesday and a return date has not been set. Sebastien Le Toux, who started up top on Wednesday, sustained a concussion and will not be available for tomorrow's game. That leaves Leo Fernandes, the natural attacking midfielder who put in a 23-minute shift at forward against the Red Bulls. Fernandes looked solid against the Red Bulls, and Curtin seems pretty high on him, but Sapong starting is obviously the best-case scenario.
Le Toux's absence also raises questions about who will start on the right wing. Ilsinho is the only other player to have received major minutes in that spot this season, but his fitness - or lack thereof - might keep him out of the lineup. A start in sweltering Houston would be Ilsinho's third in nine days, which is asking a lot of guy who has only surpassed 80 minutes once this season. If Curtin decides to go to someone else, that would likely be Walter Restrepo. The former New York Cosmos man has made two substitute appearances this year, and he looked pretty good in his lone start against the City Islanders in Open Cup action.
In the midfield, Brian Carroll will likely reclaim his spot after Warren Creavalle got the nod on Wednesday. The only change on the backline would be at left back. If Curtin opts to go for a more defensive look, we could see Ray Gaddis start over Fabinho.
How the Dynamo will look: Since Wade Barrett took over for Owen Coyle in late May, the interim coach hasn't fielded the same lineup twice. Though looking through past starting elevens, a core can be discerned. Tyler Deric looks to be Barrett's guy in goal, while DaMarcus Beasley, Raul Rodriguez, David Horst, and Jalil Anibaba form the preferred defensive unit. Houston's been rolling with a five-man midfield composed of Collen Warner, Alex, Ricardo Clark, Andrew Wenger, and Boniek Garcia. Will Bruin's received the bulk of the starts up top since Barrett took over, but Giles Barnes has been unavailable - first due to Copa America duty, but more recently because of issues with his Achilles. Cubo Torres also reportedly plays for the Dynamo but his whereabouts are unknown and his parents are worried about him.
What to expect: Both of these teams just played on Wednesday, and now they will go again on a hot summer day in Houston. That's a long way of saying that this game will probably be boring as hell. The home side may have the upper hand, though, as they managed to rest most of their starters mid-week. The Dynamo are suffering through a turrible season (14 points through 16 games), but that might put them on more of a level playing field with the Union.
Prediction: 1-1 draw.