Preview: Reeling Union set to host red-hot rivals DC United

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs D.C. UNITED
PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
June 16, 2012 (WEEK 15, MLS Game #124)
7 p.m. ET (Galavision; CSN-MA)

The John Hackworth era opens for Philadelphia Union, as the club's new manager takes the reins for their meeting with D.C. United on Saturday evening at PPL Park. Hackworth takes over for Peter Nowak with the club riding a five-game winless run following a loss at Toronto FC three weeks ago. United have won three games in a row in league play for the first time in four years, following a 3-2 home win against the New England Revolution in their last MLS contest.

REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Claudio Badea; JAR (opposite): Kevin Klinger; 4th: John McCloskey
MLS Career: 152 games; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 42; pens: 57

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INJURY REPORT:

  • PHILADELPHIA UNION - OUT: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); DF Gabriel Farfan (back spasms); MF Cristhian Hernandez (R knee sprain); DF Chris Albright (R foot sprain); DOUBTFUL: DF Sheanon Williams (R big toe sprain); QUESTIONABLE: GK Chase Harrison (L ankle sprain); MF Michael Farfan (L foot contusion); FW Chandler Hoffman (L heel contusion); PROBABLE: MF Keon Daniel (L ankle sprain)
  • D.C. UNITED - OUT: MF Lance Rozeboom (L knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: MF Danny Cruz (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Branko Boskovic (abductor strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: PHI: Lionard Pajoy (through June 17)

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Gabriel Gomez
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Michael Farfan ... DC: Maicon Santos, Chris Pontius, Dwayne De Rosario

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Union 2 wins, 8 goals ... United 1 win, 8 goals ... Ties 1

AT PHILADELPHIA (2 meetings): Union 2 wins, 6 goals ... United 0 wins, 4 goals ... Ties 0

RETURN MATCHES: 8/19: D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, 5 p.m. ET (NBC SN); 9/20: Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2/Deportes)

LAST YEAR (MLS):
7/2: DC 2, PHI 2 (Wolff 44; Najar 58 - own goal 49; Ruiz 84)
9/29: PHI 3, DC 2 (Le Toux 4,15; M. Farfan 57 - De Rosario 22; Najar 30)

  • The teams are meeting for the second time in less than two weeks, after Union recorded a 2-1 win in a third-round U.S. Open Cup match at the Maryland Soccerplex on June 5.
  • Union have won both home meetings all-time in the series, winning 3-2 on each occasion, including in the first ever home game played by the club, April 10, 2010 at Lincoln Financial Field.
  • Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. DC: first game ... Ben Olsen vs. PHI: P3 W1 L1 D1

U.S. OPEN CUP

  • Goals from Philadelphia's Brian Carroll and D.C.'s Josh Wolff right at halftime sent the match to overtime, where Antoine Hoppenot scored the game-winner five minutes into the extra session.
  • Here's United's team: Bill Hamid - Emiliano Dudar, Brandon McDonald (sent off 112), Robbie Russell, Daniel Woolard; Branko Boskovic (Marcelo Saragosa 92), Nick DeLeon (Lewis Neal 80), Perry Kitchen, Andy Najar; Hamdi Salihi, Josh Wolff (Maicon Santos 64)
  • Here's the Union team: Zac MacMath - Gabriel Farfan, Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdes (sent off 114); Freddy Adu, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan, Michael Lahoud (Antoine Hoppenot 79 / Kai Herdling 105); Josue Martinez (Chandler Hoffman 71), Lionard Pajoy

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Philadelphia Union return to action in league play after having their winless streak extended to five games in their last MLS match, a 1-0 loss to Toronto FC on May 26 at BMO Field. Union are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 8 points from 11 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: TFC take first win of the season vs. Philly

LAST MATCH

  • The game's lone goal came two minutes from full time. Nick Soolsma found second-half substitute Danny Koevermans just outside the left side of the post after some determined work down the wing. Koevermans' first effort was stopped by goalkeeper Chris Konopka, but the Dutchman muscled home the rebound from close range.
  • Union boss Peter Nowak made four changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas in Frisco. Chris Konopka came in between the posts in place of Chase Harrison, and Freddy Adu, Kai Herdling and Gabriel Farfan all came into the team in place of Keon Daniel, Gabriel Gomez and Michael Lahoud.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Chris Konopka - Raymon Gaddis (Michael Lahoud 37), Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams, Gabriel Farfan - Freddy Adu, Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Kai Herdling (Antoine Hoppenot 65) - Lionard Pajoy, Danny Mwanga (Josue Martinez 83).

TEAM NEWS

Sakiewicz: Nowak out, Hackworth to take over

  • Union saw their winless skid stretched to five games in league play in the loss to Toronto FC, having lost four times in that stretch, since a 1-0 win April 21 at Chivas USA. "I am extremely disappointed with our performance; we had a couple of good games and this was the complete opposite. We took three steps forward and now three steps back," said then Union manager Peter Nowak.
  • In the days leading up to the United match, Nowak was relieved of his duties as team manager and VP of soccer operations. John Hackworth was named interim team manager.
  • Chris Konopka made his first league appearance of the season, with both Zac MacMath and Chase Harrison sidelined to injury. Konopka was making his second MLS appearance, his first coming with the New York Red Bulls last Aug. 13 in a 2-2 draw with the Chicago Fire.
  • "He was big time today," said Gabriel Farfan. "I think a lot of guys who haven't played are ready to step up when given the opportunity and he showed that today." Said Konopka: "It's frustrating. ... I mean, when it gets that deep in a game you try to find any way to grind out a result and it's just frustrating that we didn't do that."
  • MacMath has been cleared for duty for this weekend, sporting padded headgear. "It's not comfortable, that's for sure," MacMath said. "I didn't like it in training and I didn't like it in this game. But it's for my safety and I know that. I want to have a long career and this is going to help me do that."
  • During the league break, Union traded strikers with the Portland Timbers, Danny Mwanga going to the West Coast in exchange for Jorge Perlaza.
  • "Danny Mwanga was good with the ball at his feet and was good to draw defenders but it was difficult for him to stretch the field," Nowak said. "And I think with Jorge right now, we have someone who can stretch the field and can make bigger and better runs off of Pajoy."
  • Neither Mwanga, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft, nor Perlaza have scored this season.
  • "We have to be more dangerous," Nowak said. "We're moving along but we're not there yet. And we cannot wait until it's too late."
  • After missing the FC Dallas through suspension following his first-half ejection in the New York match, Freddy Adu returned to the Union lineup.
  • "There's a lot of things [Adu] can bring to the table but he needs to be focused and involved in the play," Nowak said. "He needs to have the touches, the feeling for the game. I think a lot of that today was missing. We need to go back to the drawing board and make sure it's not just about the skills and the vision he has, but his work toward the team concept."
  • Since the league loss, Union have advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. In the third round, Freddy Adu scored twice and Josue Martinez added a third in a 3-0 win against the USL PRO Rochester Rhinos.
  • Here's the Union team: Chris Konopka; Michael Farfan, AmobiOkugo, Sheanon Williams, Gabriel Farfan (Kai Herdling 71); Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Keon Daniel, Freddy Adu (Jimmy McLaughlin 80); Josue Martinez (Chandler Hoffman 90), Lionard Pajoy
  • Union also played a pair of friendlies, defeating PDL side Reading United 3-2, and losing to USL PRO side Harrisburg City Islanders 3-2 - in a preview of the Open Cup quarterfinal tie.
  • "I think we're both feeling that it's unfortunate that we're meeting in the quarterfinals," coach John Hackworth said. "We wish US Soccer would have maybe looked at that affiliation a little more closely and not put us in the bracket where we could have played each other. But at the end of the day, you've got to beat everybody to get to the trophy, so it is what it is."

D.C. UNITED

D.C. United return to league play riding a three-game winning streak, their last match a 3-2 win against the New England Revolution on May 26 at RFK Stadium. United now lead the Eastern Conference with 27 points from 15 games.

HIGHLIGHTS: DC top New England

LAST MATCH

  • United went ahead in the 15th minute through a header from center back Brandon McDonald, who rose highest to flick Branko Boskovic's long-range free kick up and over goalkeeper Matt Reis.
  • On the stroke of halftime United added a second, as United's second center back, Dejan Jakovic, poked home a rebound from a scramble following a corner kick.
  • Immediately after the break, however, the Revolution sprung to life, led by hard-charging forward Saer Sene. First, in the 48th minute, Benny Feilhaber unleashed a long shot that United 'keeper Bill Hamid parried away. Sene was in the right place to calmly side-foot the rebound into the lower corner.
  • The Revs then snatched the equalizer in the 50th minute, when center back A.J Soares beat his marker to the near post on a corner kick and glanced a header into the far side netting.
  • But Maicon Santos hit for the winner in the 61st minute, moments after he came on. After playing the ball wide to Dwayne De Rosario on the left, Santos ran into open space for a perfectly weighted return ball and one-timed the ball into the lower corner.
  • United head coach Ben Olsen made two changes to the team that rolled to a 3-1 win against Toronto FC at RFK Stadium. Dejan Jakovic and Nick DeLeon came back into the team, in place of Danny Cruz and Josh Wolff.
  • D.C. UNITED (4-3-1-2): Bill Hamid - Chris Korb, Brandon McDonald, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard - Andy Najar, Perry Kitchen, Nick DeLeon (Lewis Neal 68) - Branko Boskovic (Maicon Santos 57) - Dwayne De Rosario, Hamdi Salihi (Josh Wolff 80).

TEAM NEWS

MLS Player of the Month (May): Dwayne De Rosario

  • United third consecutive victory gives club its longest winning streak since winning four in a row, June 7-29, 2008.
  • "I want to play a different way, and I wish we would've been a little sharper, but again, I'm looking at the body of three wins at home, which we haven't done at this club since [June 2008]," said United head coach Ben Olsen. "This is positive stuff, and I'm not downplaying that. Again, I'm maybe just being a little negative; I'm a little unfulfilled with that game."
  • United scored two goals from deadball situations in the win against New England. They have scored three goals from corner kicks this season, and now have two goals from free kicks.
  • "It's very important," said defender Daniel Woolard. "Look at L.A. and how Beckham serves the ball and how many goals they score from it. I think Branko can do the same thing for us. He whips a great ball in and, when you know it's going to be in a good spot, the attacking players put more effort to get on the end of it."
  • Boskovic now has two assists in the last two games, both coming from free kick services.
  • "His service is - hands down - the best we've got," said Josh Wolff. "I'd put him up there with some of the better ones in the league. Certainly Brad Davis and David Beckham have extreme quality on the ball when it comes to service, but his service on free kicks and corners has been instrumental to our success."
  • Maicon Santos scored his first goal in nearly a month, having gone five league games since his last goal on April 28. He is now tied for fourth in the MLS Golden Boot race with seven goals (with New England's Saer Sene), four off the pace of San Jose's Chris Wondolowski and New York's Kenny Cooper.
  • With Maicon's entrance into the game, Dwayne De Rosario shifted back to an attacking midfield role - where he came through with his eighth assist of the season, which now leads MLS, one ahead of KC's Graham Zusi.
  • "It was more a product of I thought we needed to get hold of the ball a little more. I'm looking to get Maicon in the game for the reasons we saw. The guy can score goals and he can hold the ball up," said Olsen. "So now you have Maicon holding balls up, making it difficult for their center backs, and you have Dwayne in the midfield who always helps us with possessions."
  • Dejan Jakovic made his first start since April 14 - also against New England - and scored his first goal of the season. "I think that was the first time Dejan ever came up for a corner. For him to score his first goal, a congratulations to him. It was well deserved," said De Rosario.
  • After the New England match, United won their third-round U.S. Open Cup match, a 2-1 win against USL PRO Richmond Kickers in Richmond, Va. After Hamdi Salihi scored United's opener, Marcelo Saragosa got the game-winner in extra time.
  • Here's United's team: Joe Willis - Ethan White, Emiliano Dudar, Chris Korb (Perry Kitchen 104), Marcelo Saragosa, Andy Najar, Stephen King (Branko Boskovic 75) Lewis Neal, Hamdi Salihi (Nick DeLeon 46), Josh Wolff, Maicon Santos
  • That sent United into the fourth round, where they lost to Philadelphia Union, the club's first loss in any competition since May 12.
  • "We've been asking for this loss," Olsen said. "I look at myself first and I look at our staff first. We have to realize that that is not a good enough performance. Too many guys were on their own page today, we were cute all over the field and we thought it was going to be enough to step out here and beat a team because they were a little down on their luck."