Preview: In playoff position, Union visit still-hopeful Chivas
Two teams needing victories to keep pace in the MLS Cup Playoffs chase meet at The Home Depot Center on Sunday afternoon when Chivas USA play host to Philadelphia Union. Chivas USA find themselves four points behind the final wild card spot entering the weekend, after ending a long winless run with a 3-0 home win against Toronto FC. Union are coming off a 3-2 midweek win against D.C. United that left them a point behind Sporting KC for the lead of the Eastern Conference.
REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Ramon Hernandez MLS Career: 141 games; FC/gm: 28.8; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 26; pens: 48
INJURY REPORT: CHIVAS USA – OUT: MF Paulo Nagamura (R foot); QUESTIONABLE: DF Heath Pearce (hamstring) ... PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: GK Faryd Mondragon (R finger fracture); GK Thorne Holder (concussion); FW Levi Houapeu (L ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Sheanon Williams (intercostal strain); MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R knee inflammation); PROBABLE: FW Veljko Paunovic (L calf strain); FW Danny Mwanga (R hip flexor strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: CHV: Ben Zemanski (caution accumulation; through Oct. 2)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHV: Michael Lahoud, Zarek Valentin ... PHI: Carlos Valdes
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHV: Justin Braun, Simon Elliott, Nick LaBrocca, Heath Pearce ... PHI: Danny Califf, Brian Carroll, Danny Mwanga, Sheanon Williams
ALL-TIME (3 meetings): Union 2 wins, 6 goals ... Chivas USA 0 wins, 3 goal ... Ties 1
AT CHIVAS USA (1 meeting): Union 0 wins, 1 goal ... Chivas USA 0 wins, 1 goals ... Ties 1
- When the teams first met this season, Danny Mwanga scored the game-winner in the 82nd minute as Union won 3-2, June 25 at PPL Park.
- Union won the season series in their inaugural campaign, rolling to victory at PPL Park after the teams played to a draw at The Home Depot Center.
- Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. CHV: P7 W6 L0 D1 ... Robin Fraser vs. PHI: P1 W0 L1 D0
LAST MEETING (MLS)
6/25: PHI 3, CHV 2 (Paunovic 48; Ruiz 69; Mwanga 82 – Umana 28; Braun 77)
- Chivas USA took the lead in the 28th minute after Union ’keeper Faryd Mondragón punched away a corner kick. Chivas strung together three headers from Nick LaBrocca and Ben Zemanski before defender Michael Umana capped the sequence.
- Union tied the game early in the second half. Veljko Paunović calmly controlled a cross from Justin Mapp and buried it past Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy in the 48th minute.
- Philadelphia then took the lead in the 69th minute. After receiving a beautiful long ball from Paunović, Carlos Ruiz successfully shielded a defender while dribbling to his right before firing it through Kennedy’s legs.
- Yet Chivas found an unlikely equalizer from Justin Braun, who ran onto a brilliant through ball from Jorge Flores and beat a late-arriving Mondragón in the 77th minute.
- But the home side responded five minutes later as Danny Mwanga collected a pass well out from goal and turned and fired, beating Kennedy for the match-winner.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-3-2): Faryd Mondragon - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Jordan Harvey (Danny Mwanga 46) - Brian Carroll - Sebastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunovic (Kyle Nakazawa 73), Justin Mapp - Jack McInerney (Keon Daniel 46), Carlos Ruiz.
- CHIVAS USA (4-1-3-2): Dan Kennedy - Zarek Valentin, Michael Umana (Andrew Boyens 46), Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic - Paulo Nagamura - Ben Zemanski (Blair Gavin 76), Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores - Justin Braun, Marcos Mondaini (Chris Cortez 71).
Chivas USA snapped their seven-game winless streak, rolling to a 3-0 victory against Toronto FC on Saturday evening at The Home Depot Center. Chivas USA have 35 points from 31 games on the season, in seventh place in the Western Conference.
- Chivas USA took the lead after 12 minutes. Ante Jazic served a cross from the left flank that Angel directed toward goal. TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei was able to tip the ball, but not keep it out of the net.
- The home side doubled their lead in the 71st minute. Michael Umaña tracked down a wayward ball on the right and fired a cross back in, where Justin Braun snuck inside his defender and headed the ball inside the near post.
- Six minutes later the rojiblancos put the game on ice. Ben Zemanski unlocked the Toronto defense with a through ball and Angel ran onto it, lashing a low shot from the edge of the box to beat Frei.
- Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser made four changes to the team that came back for a 2-2 draw with D.C. United at RFK Stadium. Andrew Boyens came back into central defense for Heath Pearce, and Justin Braun and Laurent Courtois came into the midfield for Jorge Flores and Marcos Mondaini.
- CHIVAS USA (4-1-4-1): Dan Kennedy - Michael Umana, David Junior Lopes, Andrew Boyens, Ante Jazic - Ben Zemanski - Justin Braun (Michael Lahoud 78), Alejandro Moreno, Nick LaBrocca, Laurent Courtois (Marcos Mondaini 64) - Juan Pablo Angel.
- The win was the first for Chivas USA since Aug. 6, a 3-2 win against New England. The rojiblancos had put an end to a four-game losing slide in the draw at D.C. United.
- "In the last four or five games we’ve put ourselves in a difficult position, conceding goals that we should not have,” said Juan Pablo Angel. “Today was about getting three points. We played a very good 35 minutes. We took the foot off the pedal a little bit, but late in the second half we found the game again.”
- Angel scored two goals in a game for the second consecutive match, the first time since coming to MLS that he’s hit for multiple goals in back-to-back games. Angel has five goals in his current three-game scoring streak.
- “For me, every goal is important, regardless of where I score it,” said Ángel. “Obviously having those two first goals at home was great, but the most important thing was the victory. It was nice to win a game, that was the best thing.”
- Since coming to Chivas USA, Angel has scored six goals in six games. he had three goals in 22 games previously with the LA Galaxy.
- “Obviously there is a bit of a difference in the style of play here [at Chivas USA],” said Ángel. “But, I probably wouldn’t want to look back at what happened before. I’m just enjoying this moment and making the most of it.”
- Angel also set club records with nine attempts at goal and five shots on target in the win against TFC.
- “I think Juan has really adapted to us and feels like one of us. You can look at his effort and what he’s given us, it’s been fantastic. I think he’s been tremendous for us,” said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser.
- Justin Braun hit the back of the net for the first time since scoring a hat trick against Houston on Aug. 23.
- "It has been a while,” Braun said. “It's nice to get one; my confidence is good right now any time you score it increases it. Hopefully I can build on that and close out the season well."
- After returning to action after a two-match absence, Heath Pearce suffered a hamstring strain that kept him unavailable for the Toronto match. Andrew Boyens came in to play central defense, his first appearance since June 25 and his first start since late May.
- "I think it is difficult to step into situations where you haven't played in several weeks and to get up to game speed right away, I thought he did a great job and it's great for his confidence,” Fraser said. “These are challenging times for this team, every play is critical, and for Andy to step in and be as solid as he was is a true representation of the good professional he is. He's kept himself in as good shape physically and mentally as a player can be when he's not playing and he did quite well.”
Philadelphia Union extended their unbeaten streak to five games, claiming a 3-2 victory against D.C. United on Thursday evening at PPL Park. Union have 43 points from 30 matches on the year, moving into second place in the Eastern Conference.
- Union were two goals in front -- both from Sebastien Le Toux -- before the game was 15 minutes old. First, in the fourth minute, a long ball from Carlos Valdés bounced off a United defender right into the path of Le Toux, who slotted home from inside the area.
- Then Michael Farfan floated in a high, arching cross from the left flank and Le Toux settled it well before beating D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
- But United were level by the half-hour. Dwayne De Rosario sent a glancing near-post header from an Andy Najar corner into the net in the 22nd minute, then Najar netted following a fantastic individual effort. In the 30th minute, the Honduran international ran the entire length of the field, capped by a dribbling clinic to round Farfan then a powerful drive that beat goalkeeper Zac MacMath at the near post.
- But Farfan broke the deadlock in the 57th minute when he skipped past D.C. defender Brandon McDonald, dribbled into space and unleashed a left-footed rocket from just outside the box that found the upper corner of the net.
- Union manager Peter Nowak made one change to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. Sheanon Williams came back in for Kyle Nakazawa at right back.
- PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-1-3-2): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams (Kyle Nakazawa 80), Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Gabriel Farfan - Brian Carroll - Michael Farfan, Amobi Okugo (Justin Mapp 46), Roger Torres (Freddy Adu 60) - Veljko Paunovic, Sebastien Le Toux
- With the victory, Union moved into second place in the Eastern Conference, a point behind Sporting Kansas City with a game in hand. Union now hit the road for back-to-back Western road trips, against Chivas USA then Seattle.
- "I think that we did a pretty good job to make sure end in a good spot, the pressure was there, the spacing was very good whenever the ball comes back,” said Union team manager Peter Nowak. “We were in a good position to get the ball and play it forward. I think it was a massive step towards the playoffs. “We want to be in first place like every other team. So we’re going to keep going at it. We [have] got a couple games left, our last home game and some road games. We’re going to try to take as many points as we can,” said defender Sheanon Williams.
- Sebastien Le Toux has nine goals in his last eight games, with goals in three consecutive games, in a stretch where Philadelphia has scored 13 times. After 22 games this season, Le Toux had just one goal.
- "It’s just his movement off the ball,” said Amobi Okugo. “It’s hard to keep track of a player that’s constantly moving and putting himself in defenders' blind spots. It’s good for him that he’s starting to score now. It’s just his movement off the ball, consistent effort, and the balls being played in to him.”
- Le Toux hit for two goals in a game for the third time this season. Also with eight assists on the season, only Dwayne De Rosario of D.C. United has more combined goals and assists (14 goals, 11 assists).
- "I think once he started to score goals he broke that [mental] barrier,” said Veljko Paunovic. “He was maybe struggling during the year, but he’s more relaxed now. He’s enjoying the game. He’s enjoying everything around the team and the locker room.”
- Michael Farfan followed up an assist on the equalizing goal vs. Kansas City with a second assist in as many games, setting up Le Toux’s second, then scored the game-winner for his second goal of the season, also scoring May 21 vs. Chicago.
- "We have to play to our strengths because Michael is doing very good defensively. I think the second half he showed what kind of player he is, and he still a young player,” Nowak. Le Toux had scored six goals in a row for Philadelphia, from the third goal in the 4-4 tie with New England on Sept. 7, to the second goal vs. United, before Farfan’s strike broke that streak.
- Making his fifth start with Faryd Mondragon still out injured, Zac MacMath conceded two goals – the most since he’d allowed four goals in the 4-4 draw with New England in his first MLS start. He had allowed one goal over
- the previous three games.
- "I think he shows we drafted him for a reason. We knew then that he’s going to step up. He took his time – he learned from Faryd,” Nowak said. “He sees every single day the real professionals, and now he’s still behind us. It’s a very good thing we have a young 'keeper that can play the game like he did when we lost Faryd.”