Rested Union host suddenly struggling San Jose

Following a weekend off, Philadelphia Union return to action when they play host to the San Jose Earthquakes at PPL  Park. Union are still sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference, pegged back for a late 1-1 home draw by Seattle Sounders FC in their last match. The Earthquakes have gone down to defeat in back-to-back weeks, last a 2-1 home loss to Chivas USA.

REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Eric Boria; 4th: Chris Penso MLS Career: 80 games; FC/gm: 26.6; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 14; pens: 26

INJURY REPORT: PHILADELPHIA UNION – DOUBTFUL: MF Gabe Farfan (R little toe dislocation); PROBABLE: DF Jordan Harvey (L hamstring strain); MF Brian Carroll (R hamstring strain); MF Justin Mapp (L hamstring strain) … SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES – OUT: MF Andre Luiz (L knee injury); DOUBTFUL: DF Tim Ward (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Joey Gjertsen (R groin strain); MF Matt Luzunaris (L hip flexor strain)

SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: SEA: Leo Gonzalez

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Earthquakes 2 wins, 3 goals … Union 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0

AT PHILADELPHIA (1 meeting): Earthquakes 1 win, 2 goals … Union 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 0

RETURN MATCH: 7/9: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m. PT

LAST YEAR (MLS):

7/10: PHI 1, SJ 2 (Fred 14 – Glen 45; Alvarez 90)

9/15: SJ 1, PHI 0 (Wondolowski 69)

  • The Earthquakes won both meetings in Union’s inaugural campaign, a 2-1 win at PPL Park in July and a 1-0 win at Buck Shaw Stadium in September.
  • Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. SJ: P7 W2 L3 T2 … Frank Yallop v PHI: P2 W2 L0 T0

PHILADELPHIA UNION

  • Philadelphia Union return to action after a weekend off, their last match a 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC on April 16 at PPL Park. Union have 10 points from 5 matches on the year, sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Union took the lead in the 32nd minute. After Kyle Nakazawa was taken down by Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, Carlos Ruiz hit a curling freekick around the wall and just inside Kasey Keller's right post.
  • But Sounders FC hit for the leveler in the first minute of added time. A corner kick fell to Fredy Montero in the left side of the area, and he sent a short, lofted chip into the goalmouth where Alvaro Fernandez flicked a header in off the right post.
  • Union boss Peter Nowak made two changes to the team that defeated the New York Red Bulls 1-0 at PPL Park. Kyle Nakazawa and Amobi Okugo came back into the midfield, replacing Justin Mapp and Brian Carroll.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey - Kyle Nakazawa, Amobi Okugo, Stefani Miglioranzi (Danny Mwanga 60), Keon Daniel - Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Justin Mapp 80)

TEAM NEWS

  • Philadelphia Union have allowed just two goals in their opening five games, tied with the New York Red Bulls for the fewest goals allowed in MLS. A year ago, Union conceded 49 goals – one fewer than the most in the league.
  • “I think defensively, we’re playing with a lot of confidence from the backline to the midfielders and so on,” said midfielder Kyle Nakazawa. “I think we’re going to get better as the season goes on. I think we have to be pretty pleased so far.”
  • Perhaps more impressive, goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon has seen only 11 shots total in the five games so far.
  • “Just a lot of communication," Sheanon Williams said to the Journal-Register News. "Knowing each others' tendencies and having each others' backs. We just know to be there for each other and know that we're not giving up any chances or giving up any goals."
  • Union have scored just four goals in five games, and haven’t hit for more than one in any match. Offseason acquisition Carlos Ruiz scored his second of the season in the 1-1 draw with Seattle last time out, and now has 84 for his MLS career, ninth on the all-time list.
  • “It’s important that we realize not to be afraid to score the second goal,” said manager Peter Nowak. “It seems like we’re trying to manage that and also give the players enough freedom to explore the options to move forward and to have a good possession game as well. In some capacity, maybe it’s in the back of their heads that we’re still winning, but winning doesn’t mean that we need to go on the shelf and just defend.”
  • Last year’s leading scorer – Sebastien Le Toux – has just one assist and no goals despite having played every minute of every game this season.
  • “Last year I proved I can score goals for this team,” Le Toux said. “It’s not a question. I can do good stuff on the field. But my biggest concern now, because I’m a leader, is to put this team on top.”
  • Both goals Union have allowed this season in league play have come from set pieces, and both have come on second-chance opportunities. Both goals Philadelphia allowed in their U.S. Open Cup loss to D.C. United also came on rebounds.
  • "We mentioned that, we recognized that, that it's not only the first ball that's important, but the second and third, and it happened again [against Seattle]," said Nowak. "We conceded two goals against D.C. like this, and another goal against Seattle. It's not like we didn't talk about it. That's my main problem with that. If we don't talk about, I'll blame myself. ...We have to prevent [second chance opportunities] and be better."
  • Three of the starting midfielders in the Seattle match -- Kyle Nakazawa, Amobi Okugo and Keon Daniel – had started only 16 MLS games coming into the contest. Brian Carroll was out with a hamstring strain while Justin Mapp was a substitute.
  • “I thought we kept a good rhythm in the midfield,” Nakazawa said. “I think we’re a very talented group, very deep. Anyone, whether they’re young or old, can perform well when they’re called upon.”

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES

  • The San Jose Earthquakes went down to defeat for a second consecutive week, Chivas USA getting a late goal for a 2-1 win Saturday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes have 5 points from 6 games on the season, sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Earthquakes took the lead in the 16th minute through 2010 Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski. Ramiro Corrales corralled a half-cleared corner kick on the right side and delivered a looping cross to Khari Stephenson near the penalty spot. Stephenson’s header found a wide-open Wondolowski, who popped a close-range over goalkeeper Dan Kennedy from an acute angle near the end line.
  • During first-half stoppage time, Chivas USA drew level. Heath Pearce delivered a free kick from out near the right touchline and Alejandro Moreno rose from a crowd at the spot got off just enough of a header to flick the ball neatly inside the far post.
  • The game-winner came five minutes from the end as a pair of substitutes combined. Justin Braun beat two Quakes defenders down the right wing before driving an angled shot toward the far post. Quakes 'keeper Jon Busch was able to get a hand to it, but the rebound was diverted home by Mariano Trujillo from close range.
  • Earthquakes boss Frank Yallop made two changes to the team that fell 3-0 to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Chris Leitch returned to the back four for Ike Opara, and Scott Sealy started up top in place of Ryan Johnson.
  • SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES (4-1-4-1): Jon Busch - Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Brandon McDonald, Ramiro Corrales - Sam Cronin - Khari Stephenson (Anthony Ampaipitakwong 55), Chris Wondolowski, Simon Dawkins (Steven Lenhart 80), Bobby Convey - Scott Sealy (Ryan Johnson 64).

TEAM NEWS

  • After a second consecutive loss and seeing his side’s winless run extended to four games, Frank Yallop promised changes.
  • "That was a really, really poor performance for us, collectively and individually. I thought it was terrible,” Yallop said. “ … I need to shake it up now, because that ain’t good enough. Not even close. ... There might be a few [new] guys starting. We’ll see
  • Yallop said he liked the energy rookie Anthony Ampaipitakwong brought in his 35 minutes in a substitute performance, coming on in place of Khari Stephenson. Steven Lenhart also came on in the 80th minute in his San Jose debut.
  • “If you lose two straight, when in both games we didn’t really show up and got kind of run over in New York and then outplayed here again against Chivas, you can’t really expect to be in the lineup,” said midfielder Sam Cronin. “It’s our job to get on the field and work hard, represent the club well and win. And we haven’t done that. If you don’t do that, you can’t say anything if the coach feels like he’s got to shake it up.”
  • Yallop returned to the back four that he ran out for the opening three games of the season. The Quakes have allowed eight goals in four games on the season.
  • “I think any professional team in the world would tell you, when you’re losing, everyone’s job is up for grabs,” Hernandez said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that if Frank feels like someone’s not up to par, he’ll make a change. That’s his job. It’s our job to stay on the field and perform as best we possibly can.”
  • The Earthquakes have only two points from four games at Buck Shaw Stadium this season, and now go on the road for back-to-back games.
  • "Sometimes it feels like we're just playing a defensive drill out there, like a track meet going back and forth," center back Jason Hernandez said. "Anyway you can give up a goal we're giving up goals."
  • Chris Wondolowski scored his Earthquakes-leading third goal of the season against Chivas USA, half of the team’s total thus far. He scored 18 of San Jose’s 34 in winning the MLS Golden Boot last year.