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Eastern Conference Championship

DC United vs. Philadelphia Union: MLS Match Preview

D.C. UNITED vs PHILADELPHIA UNION

RFK MEMORIAL STADIUM, Washington, D.C.

April 21, 2013 (WEEK 8, MLS Game #69)
5 p.m. ET (ESPN2/Deportes)

A pair of clubs looking for a vital victory meet on Sunday afternoon when D.C. United and Philadelphia Union clash at RFK Stadium. United come into the game riding a three-game losing streak, coming off a 2-0 home to the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Union are on a three-game winless streak, having reached back-to-back draws, last time out a 1-1 home draw with Toronto FC.

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE (PDF)

REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. AR1 (bench): Bill Dittmar; AR2 (opposite): Kevin Klinger; 4th: Sorin Stoica
MLS Career: 80 games; FC/gm: 24.4; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 15; pens: 11

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (7 meetings): United 3 wins, 11 goals … Union 2 wins, 9 goals … Ties 2
AT RFK STADIUM (3 meetings): United 1 win, 5 goals … Union 0 wins, 3 goals … Ties 2
RETURN MATCH: 8/10: Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN); 10/12: D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, 7 p.m. ET

LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/16: PHI 0, DC 1 (Pontius 78)
8/19: DC 1, PHI 1 (own goal 71 – Carroll 8)
9/20: PHI 0, DC 1 (Pajoy 67)

  • D.C. United won two of the three league meetings between the teams a season ago, with one draw, winning on both of their visits to PPL Park (both by 1-0 scorelines, on June 16 and Sept. 20).
  • The teams have also met in the U.S. Open Cup each of the last two seasons, with Union winning 2-1 in extra time last year after United advanced following a penalty shootout the year before.
  • Coaches record: Ben Olsen vs. PHI: P6 W3 L1 D2 … John Hackworth vs. DC: P3 W0 L2 D1

D.C. UNITED

D.C. United suffered a third consecutive loss, the New York Red Bulls getting two first-half goals on their way to a 2-0 win Saturday afternoon at RFK Stadium. United are in a tie for ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 4 points from 6 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The game’s two goals came within a seven-minute stretch in the first half. In the 29th minute, Thierry Henry found himself with time and space outside the box and he launched a classy right-footed drive toward the bottom right corner that beat a diving Bill Hamid.
  • Seven minutes later, New York doubled the lead when Jamisón Olave redirected a flick-on header by Brandon Barklage at the tail end of a beautiful service from Juninho for his third goal of the season.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made no changes to the team that went down to a 1-0 defeat by Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard (Kyle Porter 83) - Marcos Sanchez, Raphael Augusto (Carlos Ruiz 64), Perry Kitchen, Chris Pontius - Lionard Pajoy, Rafael Teixeira (Dwayne De Rosario 46).

TEAM NEWS

  • United have lost three consecutive games in a season for the first time since losing four games in a row Sept. 29-Oct. 15, 2011. They saw their winless run extended to four games.
  • “We’re easy to play against from a defensive side and an offensive side,” United head coach Ben Olsen said. “Are we dynamic enough? We’re pretty predictable in the way we go about things. That’s just who we are right now. We’ve got to stay together and dig our way out of it. That’s what we need to be focused on right now.”
  • It was the second consecutive home defeat for United, following a 17-game league home undefeated streak which dated back to the start of last season.
  • “We haven’t had the easiest schedule. We’ve played New York twice, we’ve played [Sporting] Kansas City, we’ve played [Real] Salt Lake and Houston. So, we’ve played some playoff teams. All of these teams that we’re playing are playoff-caliber teams, and they have a lot of guys returning,” said Olsen. “I’m hoping that’s a part of this, and as we play some teams that are finding out who they are a little bit and don’t have the playoff experience, we’ll fare better. But, I’m not sugar coating the group right now, and the staff, and the way our team has been playing up to this point.”
  • United saw their goalless streak stretched to 248 minutes, now the fourth-longest in MLS this season. “We’re not getting a lot of opportunities. The ones we’re getting we have to do better with just because we’re not getting 6-7 good opportunities – we’re getting two. We have to do better with those to get us some points while we get out of this tough stretch,” said Olsen.
  • Said Chris Pontius: “We’ve got to figure something out. We can’t keep playing this game of trying to keep shutouts all the time. We are going to give up goals throughout the season. We need to be able to put some away to take some pressure off our defense.”
  • After missing the Sporting KC match with an adductor strain, Dwayne De Rosario came on at halftime in place of Rafael, who was making his third consecutive start.
  • Carlos Ruiz came off the bench for a fifth consecutive match, appearing in his longest shift with United, playing 26 minutes.
  • “It was a pretty offensive-minded lineup. We had two forwards, and Pontius and Sanchez were out there. Look, there’s a lot of things we can try,” said Olsen. “But again, you get into that balance of whether you work with what you have or you start making crazy substitutions, and then you start working on it from there. At this point, we have to fix something. I don’t know if we have to look within the league; I don’t know if we have to make a trade. That’s just stuff we have figure out.

READ: Stuck in rut, DC's Olsen sets simple goal: "Right now, our focus is winning"

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Philadelphia Union reached a second consecutive draw, another 1-1 result, this time with Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. Union sit in a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference with 8 points from 6 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Toronto FC took the lead in the 71st minute. Robert Earnshaw got behind the Union defense on a long ball from Ashtone Morgan and chipped it over Philly goalkeeper Zac MacMath for his fifth goal of the season, tying for the league lead.
  • TFC then went a man down in the 88th minute when fullback Ashtone Morgan was sent off for a second yellow card. Union made them pay in stoppage time when a loose ball was kept alive in the penalty area, Conor Casey pulling a half-chance wide from close range, but Jack McInerney was well-placed beyond the back post to turn it into the goal.
  • Union team manager John Hackworth made one change to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Sebastien Le Toux came into the side in place of Gabriel Farfan.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-3-1-2): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Jeff Parke, Amobi Okugo, Raymon Gaddis (Jose Kleberson 79) - Brian Carroll - Danny Cruz (Michael Farfan 65), Keon Daniel, Sebastien Le Toux (Antoine Hoppenot 73) - Jack McInerney, Conor Casey.

READ: Union won't underestimate former cast-offs Pajoy, Ruiz

TEAM NEWS

  • Jack McInerney scored for a second consecutive game and for the fourth time in five matches, giving Union the late draw with Toronto FC.
  • “It’s a good feeling, the crowd’s going crazy, I’m sure they all loved it. But, like I said, that has to be a game that we win, and looking back on it later in the season it’s going to be disappointing. It might feel good now, but it’s going to be disappointing later,” said McInerney.
  • After moving to the substitutes’ bench for the Columbus match, Sebastien Le Toux returned to the starting lineup, but played in a wide midfield role for the first time this season. His first four starts were all as an out-and-out striker.
  • “For the first time, it was kind of rough,” Casey said. “We didn’t do a very good job. But we’re starting to build those relationships, which is good. [McInerney and Le Toux have] played together before and now I’m starting to build some relationships with those guys. It’s coming along.”
  • For a second consecutive match, McInerney was partnered by Conor Casey in attack, both playing the entire 90 minutes.
  • “I don’t think we played our best today,” McInerney said. “I definitely think we could have played better. That’s something we need to work on. If all three of us are going to be on the field at the same time, it’s a really attacking lineup … but it’s going to take time if we keep switching it up every week.”
  • Said Hackworth: “I don’t think it was as much our front three as our whole team struggled to keep our game plan. Our possession wasn’t the way we wanted to do it. Even though we had more of the ball, our rhythm and our tempo wasn’t what we had planned on.”
  • José Kleberson made his Union and MLS debut, coming on for the final 11 minutes into a midfield role.
  • “Kleberson is one of the best professionals I’ve been around in the short time that I’ve been around him. He understands that you come to work every single day, you do everything you can as a player to put yourself in a position to be selected,” said Hackworth. “He said, “Whenever you want to put me in, I’m ready.” And that’s what you want from any pro.”