The Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Union (7-4-5) will make their way to RFK Stadium on Saturday night to face off against DC United (4-5-6). Last year, both teams split the series with each team winning at home. This match will be exciting for United fans as there is a possibility that new acquisitions Dwayne DeRosario and Brandon McDonald will be featured in the match (at least as far as I know). Any offensive help would be great for DC considering that Philadelphia has allowed only 14 goals this year in league play, which is the lowest in the Eastern Conference and second in MLS behind Real Salt Lake.
Danny Califf has really fit in well in the backline for the Union and has anchored one of the best defenses in the MLS. And in front of him, the offense has begun to find themselves this year making the Union one of the more feared teams. Danny Mwanga leads the team in scoring with 5 goals and Carlos Ruiz is not too far behind with 4. What’s more interesting though is how Peter Novak has turned Philadelphia from a cellar team into a winning team in just one year. All the pieces seem to be in place for them to make a deep run to the playoffs this year, something that has their fan base extremely excited and burns the Toronto FC fans with envy.
On the other side, DC is coming off their big signing day riding high and a win this weekend would surely make it even better around RFK. Charlie Davies is firing on all cylinders at the moment heading up the United attack, and Pontius continues to impress. Along with the addition of DeRosario, this is one of the most dangerous and potent offenses in the MLS. Philadelphia will have to make sure they get everything right for chance to win. The defense for DC is one questionable area, but with the veteran presence of McDonald in the picture, fans can expect better defense productivity to increase.
This week, along with the big trade as come a few roster waives that could hurt DC in the future. At the beginning of the year, the outside wingers was the position that DC was very deep in. Since then though, United has traded or released Fred and Junior Carreiro, and lost Santino Quaranta and Branko Baskovic to injury. Black and Red United, a DC United fan blog, has pointed out that Andy Najar and Chris Pontius are our only true outside midfielders, and if something happens to one of them during a game, what is coach Ben Olsen to do? Hopefully both will stay healthy.
Speaking of staying healthy, DC has a few injuries to note before this weekend’s match. Davies, who sprained his ankle during the week, is listed as questionable, but fans can expect him to be in the match. However the same cannot be said for Jed Zayner who can not stay away from the injury bug. According to Steven Goff of the Washington Post, Zayner sprained his knee during practice on Tuesday and is walking around on crutches. Apparently, he has damaged his meniscus which could lead to a season ending surgery. But as Zayner goes down, Marc Burch is coming up. He was able to participate in practice sessions and could be ready to go pretty soon if DC needs him. Other than that, Quaranta, Jakovic, and McTavish are all still listed as out.
I’m pretty excited about the match this weekend. The chance of DC taking down the conference leader is a very good one, and the match has a lot at stake. DC is only 8 points out of first, but they have no room for error as they are only 3 points from the bottom of the table. Without a win in their last 4 league matches, DC is in desperate need of 3 points. This weekend could be the weekend that it happens. I think it will be a defensive match with DC’s defense showing up and having a good match and breaking through late in the night. Game will be on FoxSoccer channel at 6:30pm ET.
My prediction: DC 1-0 Philadelphia
Disagree with me? That’s okay. Leave me your prediction of the match in the comment section below or tweet me @TotalMLS or @aaronmccollum.
Image courtesy of DC United