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Game #4 Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. New York

Posted on 08 April 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Turnpike derby looms and Union fans are ravenous for a rivalry win. A little over 100 miles separate the two teams and in less than two years, even if the on the field product hasn’t matched it yet, the supporters have fueled a rivalry that will deepen and intensify as the years progress. The Union are coming off a tough midweek loss that saw potential starters put in 120 minutes of work and now, in regular season play, look to jumpstart their offense before the Red Bulls figure out how to jumpstart theirs.

Philadelphia Union (2-1-0) vs. New York Red Bulls (1-0-2)
Saturday, April 9, 2011, 7:00PM, ESPN2
PPL Park, Chester, PA

Philadelphia Union Probable Starting XI

————————Mondragon———————–

Williams——Califf————–Valdes——–Harvey

—————Carroll———–Miglioranzi————-

Nakazawa——————————————-Mapp

—————Ruiz—————-Le Toux—————

OUT: MF Gabriel Farfan (R little toe sublux); PROBABLE: DF Danny Califf (L knee meniscus); SUSPENDED: Jack McInerney (through April 10)

New York Red Bulls Probable Starting XI

————————-Coundoul————————-

Solli———–Ream————–Marquez——–Miller

————————–Tainio—————————–

Richards————–De Rosario————–Lindpere

—————–Henry————-Agudelo—————-

OUT: DF Chris Albright (knee surgery recovery); GK Greg Sutton (concussion)

Game Notes:

The Red Bulls are coming off a 1-1 tie with Houston in a game where scoring chances were abundant for Thierry Henry and company. After a week of training, new acquisition Dwayne DeRosario could start for a team that has been in clear need of a #10 (according to head coach Hans Backe). He had an immediate impact after his high profile trade from hometown team Toronto FC to the Red Bulls, setting up Dane Richards to open up the scoring in last Saturday’s tie. Houston came roaring back, however, with a beautiful chip from Cam Weaver to lock things at one.

The Union’s reserve squad will play their first game of the season on Sunday. Piotr Nowak and reserve squad coach, Brendan Burke, have come out and said and it’ll be about 10 of the senior squad members along with roughly 7 or 8 academy players. Burke, the head coach of affiliate team Reading United AC, will guide the first ever Union reserve squad in the newly relaunched reserve league (a necessity in our opinion). If you’re interested, the Union reserve will play the Red Bull reserves at 10:00AM at their Practice Fields, Bob Urban Field of Dreams in Houston Park.

Last year, the Union lost twice in a row to the Red Bulls in only a three day span. First was a regular season loss, 2-1, at Red Bull Arena. Several days later it was a blend of starters and reserves in an Open Cup qualifying match-up that ended with the same scoreline. At home in the season finale, however, the Union played well defeating New York and turning the tables on the scoreline thanks to early Fred and Michael Orozco-Fiscal goals. The Union have a chance to pull things even in the all-time series with a win tomorrow.

According to all of your comments regarding Keon Daniel’s follow up performance in Wednesday night’s Open Cup game, it doesn’t look like he’ll find his way into the starting lineup but Justin Mapp, going on three games missed now, is back and according to team officials, ready to go.

Both teams have issues with the attack. A first start for Dwayne DeRosario is highly likely for the Red Bulls and could prove the impetus for a less wasteful Thierry Henry. Let’s not forget he’s also got Juan Agudelo to feed as well. That’s a scary thought for all Union fans. The defense has played well, however, and kept Beckham, Donovan, and company in check at the Home Depot Center (save that damn set piece). The Union will need to play the aggressors and put the Red Bulls on their back foot early and often. That means however that both Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux need to sort things out. Having a healthy Justin Mapp in there should help dramatically.

It has been on a lot of peoples’ minds – is Le Toux 100% healthy? He puts that issue to rest in this piece on PhiladelphiaUnion.com.

Contrary to 2010, the Union were the LAST team to give up a goal this season. Their shutout streak ended at 213 minutes, the longest in club history.

Philly native Chris Albright, oft-injured unfortunately, is out recovering from knee surgery and will not play for the Red Bulls.

All spots have been filled for 2011’s Sueno MLS. The Union will be first time hosts and the local tryouts will take place April 23-24 at the YSC Sports Complex in Wayne, PA. Other teams hosting tryouts are the Chicago Fire and FC Dallas.

 Guess the scoreline:

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Game #3 Preview: Philadelphia at Los Angeles

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Breton Bonnette

If Houston was tough, Los Angeles should be tougher. The Galaxy are coming off their worst defeat in recent memory and should be itching to make a statement. The Union will be their test case. Both teams are looking to jumpstart an impressive array of offensive threats (Angel, Donovan, Beckham vs. Mwanga, Ruiz, and Le Toux) but, and it seems surreal to say this, the Union head to Los Angeles with a firm defensive advantage. Can Mondragon and company hold the fort until the Union attack awakens or will the Galaxy, stunned by Real Salt Lake, return to 2010 form first?

Philadelphia Union (2-0-0) at Los Angeles Galaxy (1-1-1)
Home Depot Center, Carson, CA, 10:30PM EST

Philadelphia’s Probable Starting XI

————————-Mondragon————————-

Williams———Califf————-Valdes———Harvey

——————-Miglioranzi——Carroll—————–

Le Toux—————-Nakazawa—————–Mwanga

——————————Ruiz——————————

QUESTIONABLE: MF Justin Mapp (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Carlos Valdes (R ankle sprain); DF Danny Califf (L knee meniscus)

Los Angeles’ Probable Starting XI

——————————Saunders—————————-

Franklin———DeLaGarza——–Leonardo——Dunivant

Beckham———-Birchall———-Juninho——–Donovan

———————-Barrett———–Angel———————

OUT: DF Gregg Berhalter (L knee MCL sprain); FW Adam Cristman (L knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Donovan Ricketts (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: DF Omar Gonzalez (R shoulder sprain)

Notes:

There are a couple ways to look at Saturday’s game in Los Angeles. The Galaxy could either be down and out after a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Real Salt Lake or they could be ready to right the wrongs of a game that simply got out of their hands. Our guess, with guys like Landon Donovan and Juan Pablo Angel leading the way, is that they’ll be amped. If the Union are going to avenge their 3-1 loss at the Home Depot Center they’ll have to continue and even improve upon their defensive strengths. Mondragon should really get tested this game so it’ll be interesting to really see him under fire.

It only took 53 seconds for AJ DeLaGarza to score the first goal in last year’s match-up. The Galaxy dealt with that same issue in last weekend’s loss to Real Salt Lake. Real Salt Lake was up 2-0 in the first 10 minutes and didn’t look back from there. One huge positive for the Union is that Edson Buddle, scorer of 3 goals out of 4 vs. the Union last season, was snapped up by Inglostadt in the German 2.Bundesliga. The bad news? Buddle was replaced by MLS veteran goalscorer Juan Pablo Angel. Chad Barrett is another addition for the Galaxy that could pose a problem. He’s well known for the amount of sitters he inexplicably misses but from time to time, he connects.

The Galaxy’s defense has looked subpar as of late and if Le Toux, Ruiz, and Mwanga can build upon their developing chemistry, they could break it again. Los Angeles, however, could get a defensive boost from the return of starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts from injury. Josh Saunders has filled in well but Ricketts provides that “unbeatable” quality when he’s up for a game. Centerback Omar Gonzalez may still have to miss Saturday.

Piotr Nowak, in Wednesday’s press conference, named numerous players that could potentially be out or play a limited role in Saturday’s match-up. Justin Mapp is almost certainly out while other names in the walking wounded include defensive stalwarts Carlos Valdes and Danny Califf.

Right on the heels of Saturday’s game vs. Los Angeles is the first Open Cup qualifier vs. DC United at the Maryland SoccerPlex. One can expect on April 6th a blend of starters and reserve players as the Union look to get at least one step farther than last season in qualifying process. In 2010, Nowak used a mixed squad but the team failed to really show up in New York dropping a disappointing 2-1 loss.

Several Union starts spent signficant time with the Galaxy in the past – Carlos Ruiz had some of his best years with Los Angeles winning a MLS Cup alongside an impressive Danny Califf in 2002, Stefani Miglioranzi featured in the midfield at the dawn of the Beckham era. How about former Union players? If Donovan Ricketts isn’t ready to start and Josh Saunders continues in net, former third string Union keeper Brian Perk will most likely back him up.

It’s early but this is still nice to read – the Union are leading the Eastern Conference for the first time in club history, after having won back-to-back shutouts for the first time. Two Union players, Carlos Valdes and Brian Carroll, found their way onto ASN’s Best XI for Week Two. Not bad. Brian Carroll made Major League Soccer’s Best XI as well.

Two Union youngsters featured for US U-20 MNT earlier this week. Zac MacMath had a quiet game in net as the U-20s beat up on Suriname 4-0. Amobi Okugo started and picked up a yellow card. The Union will move on to play Panama in the final group match-up this Saturday at 6:00pm EST (therefore they will be missing this match as well).

In the Union Firsts Contest standings, E. Frysinger leads with FIVE points, Reaser is close behind with FOUR points, and several are in third with THREE points. 9/15 questions have been answered. They are vying for a $50 e-gift card to PhiladelphiaUnionStore.com.

In case you missed it, head over the Union’s website to check out the Pledge Program, “Union Fans Assist”.

Predict the Scoreline:

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Home Opener Preview: Vancouver visits PPL Park

Posted on 24 March 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Union play host to expansion squad Vancouver and both teams are raring to go after opening wins to start the season. The Union grabbed their first away points in Houston while the Whitecaps, led by Swiss midfielder Davide Chiumiento, blitzed Toronto FC 4-2. After posting a 6-3-6 record at home last season, the Union are looking to turn PPL Park into their fortress this season. Will the Union attack ignite as they did last year in the opener or will a short-handed Vancouver spoil Doop Day for Union fans? 

Philadelphia Union (1-0-0) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (1-0-0)
PPL Park, Chester, PA, 4:00PM EST

Projected Philadelphia Union Starting XI

————————-Mondragon————————

Williams——–Califf————–Valdes——–Harvey

—————–Carroll————Miglioranzi————-

Le Toux————————————————Mapp

—————-Mwanga—————Ruiz——————

QUESTIONABLE: DF Danny Califf (L knee meniscus); PROBABLE: DF Juan Diego González (L hip flexor strain)

Projected Vancouver Whitecaps Starting XI

—————————-Nolly——————————-

Leathers——–Janicki———Duckett———–Rochat

Wagner——–Dunfield———-Koffie————Tiebert

——————–Harris———-Hassli———————

OUT: MF Michael Nanchoff (groin strain); DOUBTFUL: MF Shea Salinas (R knee sprain); MF John Thorrington (R quad strain); MF Davide Chiumiento (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Russell Teibert (R hamstring strain)

GAME NOTES:

Former Union player Shea Salinas is now with Vancouver and was hoping to see some time Saturday at PPL Park. Not only will he not play but he will not make the trip with the team to Vancouver either. As much as Union fans loved the guy, it seems Nowak and company were smart to leave him unprotected. Oft-injured, one can only hope he finds a stretch of time where he can show what he can do.

Who knew? Faryd Mondragon set a Major League Soccer record last Saturday with his shutout debut. The 39-year old is the oldest ever to make his debut in MLS. He ‘bested’ Kasey Keller of the Seattle Sounders by almost half of a year. Also from the same article, former Union player Alejandro Moreno has become only the fifth player in Major League history to play for six teams (LA, San Jose, Houston, Columbus, Philadelphia, and now Chivas USA). That’s a lot of travel.

Vancouver is coming off of a big 4-2 win over Canadian rivals Toronto FC in Vancouver. The Reds provided several defensive miscues for the Whitecaps to pounce on (and obviously, they did) so for the Union, limiting defensive lapses should be the absolute key. Their designated player, French striker Eric Hassli, already started paying dividends with two goals in his debut.

The depth of Vancouver will be tested and the Union, unlike last year, will be heading into this match the firm favorites. The Whitecaps will be without their two starting centrebacks from their win over Toronto FC, American international Jay DeMerit and Kiwi rookie Michael Boxall are out on international duty. Two other absences could prove influential, Davide Chiumento – part of ASN’s Week 1 Best XI – might have to miss with a hamstring injury along with Russell Tiebert – a Vancouver home grown player – who could be out with a groin injury (although it’s now expected he’ll play). Replacing one of them, respectively, may be former FC Dallas man Blake Wagner, a winger/fullback with respectable pedigree. The ‘Caps will also likely miss savvy MLS vet John Thorrington, out with a right quadriceps strain.

The Union have had trouble with target strikers at home in the past (Lenhart of Columbus anyone?) so the true test will be how Valdes and Califf can fend off the likes of Vancouver’s big strikers, Atiba Harris and Eric Hassli. They contributed three goals last week, none with their head, but expect them to be targeted early and often.

On the other end, Carlos Ruiz will hope to have a more productive day up front as he gets his first taste of the PPL Park atmosphere. Something tells us he’ll deliver. He’s a poacher and if Le Toux and Mapp can deliver the service they’re capable of, expect a big game from the Guatemalan. We see Mwanga and Ruiz up front with Le Toux cycling in as Nowak tends to go with two forwards at home and a lot of positional switching throughout the game.

Expect to see a lot of “staches” in the crowd as a sizeable portion of the River End (as well as the rest of the stadium) should be seen sporting the look for the “Stache Bash”, a fundraiser for The Bernardine Center in Chester, PA. A great cause and even if you can’t get a shirt by Saturday, you can still participate! Head here for the details…

Hurry up and get’em – the Union have released a limited amount tickets for Saturday’s Home Opener!

We’re Fios subscribers so this is pretty cool – if you have Verizon Fios, there is now a Philadelphia Union folder on your Fios OnDemand.

UNION FIRST CONTEST UPDATE: We have TWO with 2 points right now at the top of the points table as a bunch of our “firsts” were uncovered. Danny Califf put to rest the “first goal of the season” and “first gamewinner” contest, Danny Mwanga was our “first sub in”, Justin Mapp was our “first sub out”, and the “first shutout away from home” was Houston. More should be decided on Saturday! 

POLL: Predict the Scoreline

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Game #1 Preview: Philadelphia at Houston

Posted on 18 March 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Union opens up the 2011 season on the road against a younger, different looking Dynamo squad. Eager to put their own new pieces to work, the Union hope to build a formidable defensive set-up and find away points to help complement what should be another great year at home.

Philadelphia Union (0-0-0) at Houston Dynamo (0-0-0)
Robertson Stadium, Houston, TX, 8:30PM EST

Projected Philadelphia Union Starting XI

———————Mondragon———————-

Williams——Califf———-Valdes——-Harvey

————-Carroll———-Miglioranzi————

Le Toux—————————————–Mapp

————-Mwanga————Ruiz—————–

QUESTIONABLE: DF Juan Diego Gonzalez (L hip flexor strain); PROBABLE: MF Sebastien Le Toux (L ankle sprain)

Projected Houston Dynamo Starting XI

————————-T. Hall————————–

Freeman—–Boswell——–J. Taylor—–Chabala

Ashe——–Cameron———Palmer———Davis

—————-W. Bruin——–Oduro—————–

OUT: MF Colin Clark (L knee); Francisco Navas Cobo (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: FW Brian Ching (R hamstring strain)

Game Notes:

The Union added some real firepower in the offseason – retooling an ailing defense from 2010 with Carlos Valdes, a surefire starter from day one, and veteran goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon. Brian Carroll, a former MLS Cup winner and standout midfielder, should anchor the middle of the field this year and act as an efficient connection in transition.

One of the biggest factors of the game will be the quality of the goalkeeper on each side. Replacing the underperforming pair of Seitz and Knighton this year will be Bundesliga vet Faryd Mondragon giving the Union a true rock on paper in between the posts. Carlos Ruiz has already come out and said to Marc Narducci of Philly.com that Faryd Mondragon is “the best goalkeeper in the league”. The Dynamo, however, lost their strongest presence on the field to psuedo-retirement (as he is now on a player/coach contract with DC United) and faces a year of inexperience in the net. Tally Hall, who has been promising in limited appearances, will get his chance in net for a new look Dynamo.

The Union should have Le Toux starting tomorrow despite a nagging injury. Mondragon tweeted earlier this week about some pain in his knee but there has been nothing pointing to him having to miss the opener. The Dynamo will most likely be missing their stud striker Brian Ching as he recovers from a hamstring strain. Ching probably could play but with the season just starting up, I would expect him to sit this one out for fear of an early setback.

The Union come into this opener with a 1-0-1 record vs. Dominic Kinnear and his Dynamo all-time. The win was an especially memorable one. Two highlight reel worthy plays were produced in the Union’s 3-2 victory over Houston. The first a walk the line stunner from Shea Salinas and the second a last gasp winner from Danny Mwanga to secure three points for the Union in their first win away from home.

Houston is undefeated in home openers so beware. They are 2-0-3 all time, beating defending champions from 2009 Real Salt Lake 2-1 last season. Robertson Stadium, however, is definitely not a fortress for the Dynamo as they registered a 6-6-3 record last season at home. Their new stadium (scheduled to open in 2012) can’t come soon enough for Dynamo fans.

Zac MacMath – the Union’s first round pick out of the 2011 SuperDraft – and second year midfielder Amobi Okugo have been called to participate with the U-20 USMNT in the 2011 CONCACAF Championship (March 28th to April 10th). With their two week exit, both MacMath and Okugo will miss the following games – March 26’s home opener vs. Vancouver, April 2’s away match in Los Angeles vs. Galaxy, April 7’s US Open Cup qualifier vs. DC United.

Slipping under the radar, Soccer by Ives came out and reported that the Union have finally put pen to paper on a contract for Michael Farfan’s twin brother Gabriel. Gabriel has been with the team all preseason and was expected to receive a contract. There has been no confirmation from the Union as of yet.

Time is running out! You have until MIDNIGHT tonight to submit your picks for the 2011 Union “Firsts” Contest. Get them in and be in the running for a $50 gift card to PhiladelphiaUnionStore.com.

We’ll be there tomorrow hopefully grabbing some pictures and keeping you up to date on all things happening on and off the field at Robertson Stadium!

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Game #27 Preview: Houston at Philadelphia

Posted on 01 October 2010 by Breton Bonnette

After the most convincing win of the season, the Union travelled to Colorado to take on a Rapids squad deeply entrenched in a battle for the playoffs. Unfortunately, they countered one of the highest highs with a low capable of dashing Union supporters hopes for postseason action. The Union, however, aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoff race although it’s virtually impossible for them to grab that last spot. Regardless, Houston awaits, looking to gain momentum heading into the 2011 season after their 2010 campaign fell short of everyone’s expectations. The new-look Dynamo sit second-to-last in the Western Conference (but Chivas USA has a game in hand) and present the Union with an opportunity to push for double digit wins in their last homestand.

Houston Dynamo at Philadelphia Union
Saturday, October 2, 2010, 4:00PM
PPL Park, Chester, PA

Houston Dynamo Probable Starters (7-14-5)

————————–Deric——————————

Mulrooney—–Serioux——Cochrane——Hainault

Ashe————Palmer——-Cameron———–Davis

——————Ngwenya——-Ching——————–

OUT: MF Colin Clark (L knee surgery); MF Anthony Obodai (L knee meniscus); DOUBTFUL: GK Pat Onstad (concussion); QUESTIONABLE: GK Tally Hall (R ankle sprain)

Philadelphia Union Probable Starters (7-13-6)

————————Knighton—————————-

Williams——Califf————Orozco F.——–Harvey

—————-Jacobson——-Miglioranzi—————

Mapp—————————————————-Fred

—————–Le Toux———Moreno——————-

QUESTIONABLE: MF Eduardo Coudet (R calf strain); FW Danny Mwanga (L shoulder sprain); PROBABLE: MF Stefani Miglioranzi (L shin contusion)

Just because both teams lead their respective conferences in goals allowed, one shouldn’t expect a goalfest. The potential is there but the Union have shown themselves to be formidable in the back at PPL Park. Brian Ching may not be as silky smooth on the ball as Colorado’s Omar Cummings but he has the ability to kill off a team single-handedly, especially when you run him up front with speedsters like Dominic Oduro and Joseph Ngwenya.

Speed kills with Houston so the Union flanks must be wary of Corey Ashe or rookie Danny Cruz. Regardless of who plays for the Dynamo, they need to be watched. There’s two sides to the scenario, however. Cruz and Ashe are both known as defensive liabilities.

The Union could be facing a Houston academy product in his first MLS start if back up keeper Tally Hall can’t go for the Dynamo. Regular netminder Pat Onstad is out injured with Hall hampered as well and Tyler Deric is next in line on the depth chart. Should be interesting to see how he deals with the vocal presence of the River End in his first Major League Soccer start.

Many Union fans are wondering if and when Jack McInerney will get a little more time on the pitch. Sure, he has almost everyone of the Union’s “consolation” goals this season but he scores and that finish vs. Colorado was pure class. Another guy fans are clamoring for – Shea Salinas.

Before Wednesday night, it had been a little over a solid month since the defense gave up more than one goal in a game. It was also looking like Brad Knighton had to no continued competition from Chris Seitz for the starting keeper position. Both were shot down as the Union fell 4-1. Knighton will remain – even after a soft rebound led to a Rapids goal – and the defense should use this run of games at home to reset themselves.

Quote of the Day: Hackworth’s curt statement, “That was not our team” after the 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Colorado.

Prediction: The Union will have played three games in the last week after Houston but the PPL Park effect still prevails. Let’s call it 2-1 Union.

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Game #23 Preview: Chicago at Philadelphia

Posted on 09 September 2010 by Breton Bonnette

The Union still have the momentum heading into this weekend’s match-up vs. a Chicago Fire deep in the fight for a playoff spot. Chicago, coming a 0-0 tie midweek with Toronto FC, has all the tools to blow a game wide open. Nery Castillo, Patrick Nyarko, Freddie Ljungberg, and Brian McBride namely. That hasn’t been the case lately, however. Philadelphia will try and continue that trend while trying to atone for last week’s hiccup vs. Kansas City.

A disappointed Nowak: who will he start in net?

Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union
Saturday, September 11, 2010, 6:00PM
PPL Park, Chester, PA

Philadelphia Union Projected Starters (5-11-6)

——————————Seitz——————————-

Orozco F.———–Califf———Gonzalez———Harvey

———————Coudet——-Miglioranzi—————-

Mapp——————————————————Fred

———————-Mwanga——Le Toux——————-

Chicago Fire Projected Starters (6-7-8)

—————————–Johnson—————————–

D.Robinson——–Brown———–Conde———–Kinney

———————-Pause———-Husidic——————–

Pappa——————–Ljungberg——————–Castillo

——————————McBride—————————–

Did you know?

Chicago’s rookie goalkeeper has been having a completely different season than the nightmare Chris Seitz seems to be stuck in right now. Sean Johnson has made his mistakes here and there but for the most part, he has delivered big save after big save to keep Chicago in some rough and tough games. The Fire jettisoned veteran and MLS All-Star Jon Busch in favor of their back-up Andrew Dykstra right before the 2010 season started. Dykstra failed to impress as an X-factor early on and several games ago, the 19-year old Sean Johnson was given the starting reins. He hasn’t looked back since.

Justin Mapp will most likely get the start against his former club. The attacker has found his form in Philadelphia and it should be the perfect opportunity to show the Fire why they were wrong to ship him off to the East Coast. After seven seasons in Chicago, starting as a professional at the tender age of 18, Mapp grew into one of the most promising attackers in American soccer. Though he never reached those lofty expectations of others, Mapp is still a complete Major League Soccer player and one that could really help shape this team moving forward.

The rapidly approaching end of the 2010 MLS season also acts as the end of the amazing 17-season career of Chicago Fire forward and USMNT legend Brian McBride. Known for his aerial prowess and tough-as-nails approach to every game, this will be the only time in Philadelphia that USMNT fans in the metro area will get to pay homage to a striker that gave a lot to American soccer. Even as a Union fan, I’m not afraid to say it – he is my favorite player EVER to don the American uniform.

Last time out, the Union lost 2-1 to a Fire squad that were comfortable to play unattractively in their own house. They played with little urgency and walked away with the win.

The Fire’s newly re-acquired fullback Gonzalo Segares will be serving suspension for an ejection two games ago.

If haven’t read Sam Donnellon’s Philadelphia Daily News piece on the Sons of Ben – go do that.

Could we see Shea Salinas this weekend? Probably not – Wednesday in San Jose is probably a better bet but you never know…

Keys to the Game

The Fire are tired – simple as that. Freddie Ljungberg’s crew is coming off a hard-fought 0-0 draw with Toronto FC mid-week. They then had to hop on a plane and fly straight to Philadelphia for tomorrow evening’s tilt. All while feeling the frustration of dropping what might have been vital points in the fight for playoff place. They had games in hand and that was considered a wasted one. To add to that, Carlos de los Cobos – the Fire boss – laid into some of the Fire defenders regarding marking on set pieces. Coach’s criticism is normal to the game but it’s clear the frustration is hitting the coaching staff as well. If there was ever a time to deliver the final blow, it’d be now. Freddie Ljungberg is coming off quite possibly his worst game so far in a Fire uniform. Staying consistent in our attack and using fitness to our advantage could do it. Keep things fast-paced.

Despite coming into this match on only three days rest, the Fire are backed against a wall. They sit six points behind Seattle (more depending on tonight’s Sounders results) for the last playoff spot. This game, therefore, has a must-win feel to it for the Fire as they run the risk of losing significant ground.

You can tell we left Seitz in between the sticks. We don’t have any advanced knowledge but something tells me this is the ultimatum game. Now they’re telling Chris – “You cost us two points last game and you continue to cost us points. One more time and you’ll be replaced”. Who knows, maybe that will wake him up.

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Game #22 Preview: Kansas City at Philadelphia

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Even without their starting striker, the Wizards will be coming into the Union’s PPL Park confident of getting a result to head back home with. Kansas City is fresh off of an offensive revival, scoring 6 goals in the last two games (one of which was a win over league-leading Los Angeles) after only scoring 6 in the 10 games before that. The Union are without a vital cog in the middle, Eduardo Coudet, but have some momentum of their own coming into this match. Will the Zolos continue their slow ascent in the Eastern Conference or will the Wizards sweep the season’s home-away series?

Philadelphia Union Projected Starters (5-11-5)

——————————–Seitz——————————-

Orozco————-Califf————Gonzalez———Harvey

———————Coudet———-Miglioranzi—————

Le Toux——————————————————Fred

———————-Mwanga———Moreno——————

QUESTIONABLE: FW Alejandro Moreno (R hamstring strain); FW Sebastien Le Toux (L knee contusion); MF Shea Salinas (L fibula fracture); PROBABLE: MF Eduardo Coudet (R foot contusion)

Kansas City Wizards Projected Starters (7-9-5)

——————————-Nielsen—————————–

Harrington——-Thomas————Conrad——–Espinoza

———————Auvray———–Rocastle——————-

——————————-Arnaud——————————-

———-Bunbury————Diop———-R. Smith————

OUT: MF Zoltan Hercegfalvi (R knee sprain/torn ACL)

Did you know?

Former Union defender Shavar Thomas will most likely start in central defense for the Wizards. The MLS vet has formed a nice partnership with Jimmy Conrad and yearns, we’re sure, to get a win against the team that wouldn’t play him.

Shavar Thomas will catch a flight right after the match to play in an international friendly for Jamaica. Roger Espinoza will do the same for Honduras. Kei Kamara, however, has a bit further of a distance to travel for Sierra Leone’s African Nations Cup qualifier. The Wizards’ leading scorer will miss the match altogether.

The Wizards head coach and Delran, NJ native Peter Vermes was unfortunately recently arrested for driving under the influence. Not a good development in an otherwise promising time for the Wizards.

The Wizards sit at 4-1-2 over their last 7 matches and have catapulted to fourth in the Eastern Conference. Jimmy Neilsen, their Danish goalkeeper, has done everything he can to make Wizards fan forget Kansas City favorite Kevin Hartman (now playing for FC Dallas). It has worked. Alongside former Arsenal trainee Ryan Smith and 8-goal Kei Kamara, Nielsen is probably the most important player in their squad.

Excuse the laziness today Union fans but we want you to come up with the Keys to the Win. What’s it going to take to cancel out the Wizards’ momentum?

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Game #21 Preview: Union at New England

Posted on 28 August 2010 by Breton Bonnette

The Union are set for atonement after a dismal 2-0 loss at the hands of the worst team in Major League Soccer. Danny Allsopp’s brace and Philadelphia’s showing tested a lot of Union fans with ten games to play. Will the Zolos reward their faithful with a spirited second away win? Or will the suffering continue?

Happier times...

Philadelphia Union at New England Revolution
Saturday, August 28, 2010, 7:30PM, 6abc
Gillette Stadium, Boston, MA

Philadelphia Union Projected Starters (4-11-5)

———————————-Seitz————————————–

Orozco F.————Califf————-Gonzalez—————Harvey

———————-Miglioranzi——-Coudet————————–

Mapp—————————————————————–Fred

————————Mwanga———Le Toux————————

OUT: MF Shea Salinas (L fibula fracture); QUESTIONABLE: FW Alejandro Moreno (R hamstring strain)

New England Revolution Projected Starters (6-11-3)

——————————Shuttleworth——————————-

————-Barnes————-Osei—————Gibbs—————

Nyassi—————Joseph————-Phelan————–K. Smith

——————————–Perovic————————————

————————Stolica———–Mansally———————-

OUT: GK Preston Burpo (R leg fracture); FW Taylor Twellman (concussion); DOUBTFUL: MF Jason Griffiths (L hamstring strain); FW Edgaras Jankauskas (L adductor strain); GK Matt Reis (lower back pain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Kevin Alston (L hamstring strain); FW Zak Boggs (concussion); MF Nico Colaluca (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: FW Kheli Dube (R knee MCL sprain); DF Cory Gibbs (L ankle sprain); MF Marko Perovic (L foot plantar fascitis)

Did you know?

The Revs continue to face an onslaught of injuries. Most importantly for the Union, it’s netminder and former MLS All-Star Matt Reis who will not be in net for New England. Reis is sidelined with back pain and youngster Bobby Shuttleworth will get his second start for the Revs, his first start ending in a 3-0 defeat to the Sounders. MLS All-Star defender Kevin Alston will also miss due hamstring issues.

The Revs come into this game now 8-2-4 vs. expansion squads.

Food for thought, who would you protect come expansion draft time? Better yet – who wouldn’t you mind heading to Portland or Vancouver?

It’s not a fun statistic but the Union haven’t won since July 17th – more than a full month since Philadelphia outlast Toronto FC at PPL Park. Their only road win? Against the Houston Dynamo on May 29th.

Did anyone else almost forget? The Union will take on Mexican powerhouse Chivas Guadalajara on Wednesday, September 1st. Not sure about you but I’d take a win over New England before winning bragging rights vs. Chivas.

Keys to the Win

You have to think that the Union starters were embarrassed after last weekend’s performance vs. cellar-dwellers DC United and are looking to get firmly back on track. Setting the tone early on with relentless attack is great and all if you can finish the chances you do get. Too many times vs. DC there was hesitation after hesitation on the attacking end and somebody with a little urgency has to take hold of things. Let’s also not forget the absence of Marko Perovic who Union fans know all too well for the dipping free kick from 35-40 yards out that left Chris Seitz helpless and flabbergasted.

The answer to this is relatively clear – assuming nobody would have made Califf captain if he couldn’t bounce back after adversity – but will Califf follow his match vs. DC with a solid one against New England? One of the last things the Union wants heading into next season is the sad realization that they hold the Major League Soccer record for fewest shutouts in a season. A good start would be Califf leading the Zolos to one at Gillette tonight.

New England has not been shy about their intentions for tonight especially coming off a winless road trip. They need to win to keep any hopes – though slim – for the postseason alive. The Revs have won their last four at home so a reversion back to early season form has to be in the cards if the Union want to leave Gillette with points. For Philadelphia, it’s more for the late season momentum as making the playoffs looks unattainable this season.

With ten games remaining and the playoffs a distant possibility, expect the young guys to get significant time. Jack McInerney, Amobi Okugo, and Toni Stahl should all see more time than usual as Nowak balances the rest of this expansion season with preparations for 2011.

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Game #19 Preview: Colorado Rapids at Philadelphia Union

Posted on 14 August 2010 by stoma

Will Mwanga celebrate today as he did against Seattle? (Terry McLaughlin/ASN Philly)

Colorado Rapids at Philadelphia Union

Chester, PA, PPL Park
Wednesday, August 14, 2010, 4:00PM, 6 ABC

Philadelphia Union Projected Starters (4-10-4)

———————————–Seitz————————————

Arrieta————-Califf—————–Gonzalez———–Orozco Fiscal

———————Coudet—————-Miglioranzi————————–

Mapp——————————————————————–Fred

———————Moreno—————-Le Toux—————————

OUT: MF Shea Salinas (L fibula fracture), PROBABLE: MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain), D Jordan Harvey (L groin strain);

FW  Danny Mwanga (L groin)

Colorado Projected Starters (7-5-6)

———————————-Matt Pickens————————————–

Wynne————–Moor—————–Baudet—————-Earls

— Ballouchy———  Larentowicz————— Mastroeni ———Thompson

——————–Cummings————-Casey—————————–

OUT: MF Colin Clark (L knee ACL tear); MF Ciaran O’Brien (L hip sprain); FW Ross Schunk (R ACL tear) PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (head trauma); MF Jamie Smith (neck strain)

Did you know?

Colorado is the last team the Union have yet to face.  After this game, Philadelphia will have played against every team in the league at least once.

Colorado is in 5th place in the Western Conference coming into the game, but is only 3 points behind FC Dallas for the 3rd spot in the conference as the push for the playoffs intensifies.

Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz is still looking for the first clean sheet in the franchise’s short history. Colorado, at only 20 goals in 18 games, is as good a candidate to do it against as anyone.

The Rapids are 3-4-2 on the road this season. However, they haven’t been on the road since July 25, a 2-1 loss to the Sounders in Seattle.

Keys to the Game

Win the midfield.  Fred and Justin Mapp need to get more involved this game against a tough midfield duo of Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz.  If the Union’s attacking mids can control the ball, it bodes well for the Union’s chances.

Solid work at the back.  Assuming he’ll play, Conor Casey remains a top goal-scoring threat, with 7 on the season thus far.  Of the usual center back options, only captain Danny Califf has the size to compete with the 6’2, 170 lb striker.  This means that we’ve got to see the “good Danny” if the Union are to keep Casey out.

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Game #18 Preview: Real Salt Lake at Philadelphia

Posted on 11 August 2010 by Breton Bonnette

The packed schedule continues as the Union face defending champions Real Salt Lake and Colorado, fresh off their first win in a while, only four days after dropping a 3-1 decision to surging FC Dallas. The Union revisited their early season past on Saturday after Brad Knighton’s 24th minute ejection before second-half substitute Jeff Cunningham sunk Philadelphia with a brace. What better place is there to get back on track? PPL Park will be rocking midweek again as the Union look to mount a charge that takes them through the rest of their expansion season.

Are you ready to DOOP?

 

Real Salt Lake at Philadelphia Union
Chester, PA, PPL Park
Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 7:30PM, Live Well HD

Philadelphia Union Projected Starters (4-10-3)

———————————–Seitz——————————————

Arrieta————-Califf—————–Gonzalez———–Orozco Fiscal

———————Coudet—————-Nakazawa————————–

Mapp———————————————————————–Fred

———————Moreno—————-Le Toux—————————

OUT: MF Shea Salinas (L fibula fracture), QUESTIONABLE: MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain), PROBABLE: DF Jordan Harvey (L groin strain); FW Danny Mwanga (L groin)

Real Salt Lake Projected Starters (10-4-5)

———————————-Rimando————————————–

Russell————–Olave—————–Borchers—————-Wingert

Grabavoy——————-Beckerman—————————–Johnson

———————————–Morales—————————————

——————–Espindola————-Campos—————————–

Striker Alvaro Saborio (8 goals) will be on international duty. Robbie Findley will be joining the team after the USMNT/Brazil match at the New Meadowlands. PROBABLE: FW Pablo Campos (R calf contusion), DF Chris Schuler. (L hamstring strain). If Pablo Campos can’t go, you can expect second year Jean Alexandre to get the nod.

Did you know?

Former RSL keeper Chris Seitz will be looking to get a little revenge this week and he’s hoping to do that by registering his first clean sheet of the season. Seitz will also hope for help from the 19-year old Danny Mwanga, once a member of the Real Salt Lake U-18 squad. That, of course, is if the striker is back from a groin injury.

UPenn graduate and Harrisburg City Islander Danny Cepero has been signed to provide cover after Brad Knighton’s ejection vs. FC Dallas on Sunday. While it’s likely Cepero will not see time, he is no stranger to Major League Soccer. The New York native has the honorable distinction of being the only goalkeeper in MLS history to ever score a goal in the run of play. It also happened to be in his professional debut. Cepero went on to help the Red Bulls to their first ever MLS Cup appearance in 2008, eventually losing out to the Columbus Crew in the final.

Real Salt Lake sits at 3-4-2 on the road this season. With several key omissions, the defending champions look relatively vulnerable on paper. Their defense, however, is intact led by one of the best defenders in the league in Jamison Olave. Which Colombian can have a better day in defense – Olave or the Union’s newest signing Juan Pablo Gonzalez?

The season tally on red cards is now up to 5 for the season. That statistic can stand alone.

Real Salt Lake leads the league in goals scored with 33. Philadelphia is tied for the lead in goals allowed with 32. The Union let up three goals this past Sunday for the first time in over 3 months.

A complete change of direction but the Penn Men’s Soccer team announced their newest recruits – keep an eye out for Jonny Dolezal. Villanova did the same a while back. Lafayette too. Definitely track the career of Alec Golini, a South Jersey native who should wind up being something special. Check out an interview we did with him in February. Don’t forget Drexel, alma mater of the Sounders’ Jeff Parke.

Keys to the Game

Channel the energy. The Union inevitably remember the 3-0 brushing aside they received at the hands of Real Salt Lake in Sandy. Revenge is desired of course but the all-out attack approach needs to be tempered a bit. Real Salt Lake has only lost twice in the last four months. Even without the services of Alvaro Saborio and possibly Robbie Findley, the likes of Fabian Espindola and target striker Pablo Campos can certainly hurt you if lax defending persists. With that said, Findley and Saborio have provided almost half the goals for RSL so far this season.  

We’re really not sure how many times we can say this but the Union’s biggest enemy in this match-up will clearly be themselves. Boneheaded plays, defensive lapses, the inability to take a shot on net. All of these play into it. Even if one of these is improved upon, the Union should see a better result.

Javier Morales must be neutralized by Eduardo Coudet. In a clash of the Argentines, Morales showed earlier this season why he should be seen as a candidate for MVP. Ankle problems have hindered him as of late but he is still dangerous and can provide a timely injection of energy and creativity if given the chance. If Coudet can keep Morales from finding that pocket of space between himself and centerbacks, that will make it that much harder for Espindola or creative winger Will Johnson to get steady chances.

So Alejandro finally got his first goal of the season. Does momentum build with Mwanga, Moreno, and Le Toux all on the board now? The Union’s offense looked decent in that first 24 minutes vs. FC Dallas. After the Knighton ejection, however, it became a “how do I stay alive in this heat” ordeal and FC Dallas’ defense had little trouble with the offense from then on out. As you can tell, it all comes back to whether or not the Union can refrain from shooting themselves in the foot.

Get the first goal. Real Salt Lake is 0-3-2 after giving up the first goal.

Union fans, how do you feel about the Union’s chances against the defending champions? Especially after that performance vs. FC Dallas? What changes need to be made heading into tonight’s game?

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