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Match preview: Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas

The Union look to beat Dallas for the first time in club history.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Game: Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas

Date: Saturday, August 5th

Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC

Venue: Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Pa.)

Referees: REF: RICARDO SALAZAR AR1: Jeffrey Greeson AR2: Kyle Longville 4TH: Jorge Gonzalez VAR: Hilario Grajeda

Television: The Comcast Network (Philadelphia market), TXA 21 (Dallas-Fort Worth market)

Streaming: MLS Live

All-time record: The Philadelphia Union have never beaten FC Dallas in MLS play, losing five and drawing four. The Union also drew FCD in their lone U.S. Open Cup meeting in 2015, however Philadelphia advanced on penalties 4-3 with Zac MacMath saving Victor Ulloa’s shot. The last time these clubs met was the opener of the 2016 season, where Dallas won 2-0 in Texas.

What Philadelphia will look like

The Union finally had a week without a Wednesday game. The absence of these games and any international breaks in the near future should allow the club to settle back into a normal routine - something that athletes thrive in.

The Union are relatively healthy, with the only injuries listed being the long term injuries to Maurice Edu and Fabian Herbers as well as Andre Blake’s hand laceration. You may remember a little tournament in Santa Clara where Blake went to make a save on a shot and Kelyn Acosta kicked him straight in the hand, forcing him to leave the game and thus ending Jamaica’s fairy-tale Gold Cup run.

Look for the Union’s regulars to get the nod for the most part. The back four of Giliano Wijnaldum, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, and Ray Gaddis has been solid, and they’ll have their work cut out for them with Dallas’ high-octane offense.

The real intrigue comes with the wings and attacking midfielder. If Fafa Picault is healthy enough to go, he’ll start at left wing. If not, Marcus Epps was a very capable fill-in on the left. Chris Pontius is back from national team duty and will almost certainly start on the right. The big question is at the 10, where it’s either Ilsinho or Roland Alberg who will get the nod. Yay!

What Dallas will look like

FCD is one of the hottest teams in the league, winning three of their last four and getting points in seven of their last nine. Their offense is lead by Maximiliano Urruti, who has eleven goals and five assists in 18 games, and Roland Lamah, who has eight goals and two assists in his 19 appearances.

The Dallas defense however is perhaps the biggest threat. Dallas has allowed a second best 23 goals against in 20 games - only Toronto FC has allowed fewer (22). Jesse Gonzalez’ 1.13 Goals Against Average is among the league’s best - even after Dallas got lit up 4-0 last week by the Vancouver Whitecaps. Ryan Hollingshead, Atiba Harris, Matt Hedges, and Hernan Grana will most likely be the back four for Dallas, although Walker Zimmerman and Maynor Figueroa have been pushing for minutes.

What to expect

There’s been rumblings of the Union looking to switch Ray Gaddis for Keegan Rosenberry at right back, but honestly this might not be the game to do that. Lamah is fast and lethal on the Dallas left, so it might make more sense to leave the more defensive-minded Gaddis in along the right along with Jack Elliott (and to an extent Alejandro Bedoya, who’ll need to hang back on defense) to mitigate the threat. Elliott and Onyewu will have their hands full with the dangerous Urruti. Defense has to be a team effort by the Union, or else it could get ugly quick.

On the other side of the ball, Vancouver proved that FC Dallas can get scored on. That said, the Union will absolutely have to get a top performance from whomever is playing the 10. Whomever gets the nod needs to play like his job is on the line - because it most likely is. The offense is designed to run through that position, and if Ilsinho’s passes don’t find the mark or Alberg is largely absent then the ball doesn’t get out to the wings or up to CJ Sapong. The distribution simply can’t always go through the defensive mids or via a hopeful long ball from the defense if the Union are going to score.