Preview: Fresh off CCL win, RSL clash with Union at PPL

PHILADELPHIA UNION vs REAL SALT LAKE
PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
August 24, 2012 (WEEK 25, MLS Game #236)
7:30 pm ET (NBC SN)

Two teams looking to turn around recent form in MLS play meet on Friday night when Philadelphia Union entertain Real Salt Lake before an NBC Sports Network audience at PPL Park. Union stopped a two-game losing slide last weekend, holding out for a 1-1 draw at D.C. United, though they are still 16 points out of a playoff berth. Real have lost three league games on the trot after their 2-1 home loss to FC Dallas last weekend, though they won in the CONCACAF Champions League at midweek.

REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. AR1 (bench): George Gansner; AR2 (opposite): Scott Kachmarik; 4th: Hilario Grajeda
MLS Career: 139 games; FC/gm: 24.2; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 32; pens: 44

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE HERE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT: PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); DOUBTFUL: FW Jorge Perlaza (low back strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Gabriel Farfan (L knee contusion); MF Michael Farfan (R foot contusion) … REAL SALT LAKE -- OUT: GK Lalo Fernandez (R wrist fracture); DF Jamison Olave (L hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Chris Schuler (L foot bone bruise)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: PHI: Sheanon Williams (through Aug. 24)
WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Gabriel Gomez, Michael Farfan … RSL: Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave, Alvaro Saborio
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Brian Carroll, Carlos Valdes, Lionard Pajoy, Gabriel Farfan, Jack McInerney … RSL: Will Johnson, Javier Morales, Chris Wingert

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Union 0 wins, 3 goals … Real 2 wins, 7 goals … Ties 2
AT PPL PARK (2 meetings): Union 0 wins, 2 goals … Real 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 2

LAST YEAR (MLS)
6/11: PHI 1, RSL 1 (Daniel 24 – Espindola 53)
9/3: RSL 2, PHI 1 (Beckerman 18; Schuler 26 – Le Toux 30)
• This is the only meeting between the teams this season.
• Real are undefeated all-time against the Union. RSL have won two of the four meetings between the clubs, both at Rio Tinto Stadium; the teams have played to two draws at PPL Park.
• Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. RSL: first game … Jason Kreis vs. PHI: P4 W2 L0 D2

PHILADELPHIA UNION
Philadelphia Union put an end to their two-game losing slide, hanging on for a 1-1 draw with D.C. United on Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium. Union are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points from 22 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: DC 1, PHI 1

• Union took a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute. A free kick pinballed to Carlos Valdés, who fired a shot that was headed away by United’s Perry Kitchen, right to Brian Carroll, and he provided the final touch into the goal from right on the line.
• The home side tied the game in the 71st minute when Branko Boskovic’s free kick slid through a bevy of players, then nicked off Union defender Amobi Okugo’s head and by the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
• The game then exploded over the final minutes. After United Chris Pontius was tripped by Roger Torres in the box in the 87th minute to win a late penalty, the first attempt from Dwayne De Rosario beat MacMath to his right. But referee Mark Geiger ruled there was encroachment -- the scrum that followed saw Boskovic shown a red card -- and on the second try, De Rosario rocketed his shot over the goal.
• The dramatics weren’t done. United defender Emiliano Dudar was handed a straight red three minutes later, while Union defender Sheanon Williams was also sent off with a second yellow in the dying seconds.
• Union interim manager John Hackworth made four changes to the team that dropped a 3-1 decision to the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Carlos Valdes came into the back four for Bakary Soumare, Michael Lahoud and Danny Cruz came into the team in place of Raymon Gaddis and Keon Daniel, and Jack McInerney started in place of Chandler Hoffman.
• PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams (sent off 95+), Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan - Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud - Danny Cruz (Antoine Hoppenot 57), Michael Farfan, Freddy Adu (Keon Daniel 69) - Jack McInerney (Roger Torres 80).

TEAM NEWS
• The draw snapped a two-game road losing slide for the Union, and was their first point on the road since July 4, when they came away from The Home Depot Center with a 2-1 win vs. the LA Galaxy.
• “A point on the road in this league is really important,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “And we haven’t had that. For us to get a point on the road, no matter all the craziness, it’s important for the team.”
• The three-game streak without a victory is the longest for the club since Hackworth took over as interim team manager. They had not gone without a win in back-to-back wins since Peter Nowak was dismissed when riding a five-game winless skid.

WATCH: Union preview Real Salt Lake

• “We thought we could have played better soccer in the second half and got a result. We have to fix that going forward, but a point in a very difficult place,” said Hackworth. “D.C. United are in the position in the league because they are so successful at home this year, and for us to come in and get a point was very important for us.”
• Just days after being acquired from D.C. United, Danny Cruz was given the start against his former club, playing wide on the right on Union’s three-man attacking line.
• “Danny played well,” Union interim manager John Hackworth said. “For him to come in, it was an extremely emotional game for him obviously. But he did what he needed to do.”
• Said Cruz: “I don’t feel out of my element. But there are a few things I have to get used to because a 4-3-3 is a lot different than a 4-4-2.”
• All three changes Hackworth made were to his front-runners, bringing on Antoine Hoppenot, Keon Daniel and Roger Torres in place of Cruz, Freddy Adu and Jack McInerney.
• “The fact is we didn’t play great in the second half and that was our fault. We could have scored a second goal. I think we should have scored two. We will talk about that. We will talk about execution,” Hackworth said. “At the same time, we did what needed to do in a very hostile environment. This is a positive effort for us that we have a result in this kind of atmosphere. There are a lot of teachable moments from this game.”
• Adu was making a fourth consecutive start, and played 69 minutes after being taken off at halftime in the Chicago game, the second time in his last five starts he was removed at the interval.
• “He said, ‘Hey, I thought I could have contributed longer,’” Hackworth said. “I said, ‘You know what, I need you to contribute the way you did today every single game. Freddy, if you do that, we will win more games.’ And that’s important to us. I think he understands it, too.”

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake saw their league losing streak hit three games, FC Dallas hitting for a late goal for a 2-1 victory on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real sit in second place in the Western Conference with 42 points from 26 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 1, DAL 2

• Dallas struck first in the 61st minute. Fabián Castillo took a ball down the left wing, then played a quick one-two with David Ferreira just inside the penalty area. With Tony Beltran trailing, Castillo hit a tough-angle shot that hit the far-right corner of the goal.
• Real pulled level in the 76th minute. From the team's seventh corner of the night, Javier Morales hit the ball toward the back post, and Álvaro Saborío jumped high to get his head on the ball and loop it into the back corner.
• FC Dallas hit for the winner on the counter in stoppage time. Brek Shea and Ferreira set off on a two-on-one break against RSL's Nat Borchers. Shea drew the defender close and hit the ball to the middle to Ferreira, who took a couple of controlling touches before firing a blast to the top-right corner past a helpless Nick Rimando.
• RSL head coach Jason Kreis made three changes to the team that suffered a 2-1 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place. Yordany Alvarez and Luis Gil came into the midfield for Kyle Beckerman and Will Johnson, and Paulo Junior started up top for Alvaro Saborio.
• REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Yordany Alvarez (Kyle Beckerman 75), Luis Gil - Javier Morales - Paulo Junior (Justin Braun 66), Fabian Espindola (Alvaro Saborio 46).

TEAM NEWS
• Real saw their losing streak in league play extended to three games, matching their longest of the season (also: June 20-30, when they lost to LA, San Jose and Columbus).
• “I think that we are in a very precarious position right now, because we put a ton of emphasis on this game. I was very emotional with my team and said ‘enough is enough, but now we’ve got nine games left and we need a positive big-time reaction and we need three points and we need to roll from there,’” said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. “I thought that we got everything but the result. I really feel that we got emotion from our players, and we got good attacking movements, we had a lot of chances to score – we just did so many things well … Now we’re at a presence of what we do from here because this could be a real emotional heartbreaker for us.”

RSL Insider: Real Salt Lake discuss CCL, Union match

• Álvaro Sabório returned to the scoresheet after a two-game absence but still scored his fourth goal over the last five matches. He is now tied for second place in the MLS Golden Boot standings with New York’s Kenny Cooper, four behind San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski.
• After returning from international duty, Will Johnson did not feature in the match, while Sabório was brought on as a substitute at halftime and Kyle Beckerman was brought on in the 75th minute. All three played the full 90 minutes for their countries at midweek.
• “With Kyle, Sabo, and Johnson all playing 90 minutes on Wednesday night with their national teams, two of three in different countries, it just made it so there wasn’t a choice for me,” said Kreis. “They got to be rested tonight and there was only a question of how long I would want them to play, which was definitely less than a half. Hopefully the one thing we gained out of tonight was some rest for a couple of our players.”
• For Paulo Junior, it was his first MLS start since July 7, having come on as a substitute the week before. Yordany Alvarez made his first start in four matches.
• “It did seem disjointed. I don’t think there was a whole lot of flow to it, and I think that was exactly to Dallas’s playing,” said Kreis. “We’ve seen before that teams try to make things difficult on us, trying to frustrate us, try to get back and put numbers behind the ball and then things can become difficult for us.”
• After coming off at halftime the week before, Javier Morales played the full 90 minutes and contributed his sixth assist of the season, his second in the last four games.
• “He was questionable throughout the week, because we brought him out last week, but I think we made a very wise decision and got him out of the game before he hurt himself worse with his groin. I thought he looked real good tonight,” Kreis said.
• On Tuesday, RSL got their CONCACAF Champions League started off on the right foot with a 2-0 victory against Tauro FC of Panamá. Álvaro Saborío (48) and Kyle Beckerman (58) netted goals early in the second half to put Real into the lead; Real survived the final 18 minutes a man down after Beckerman was sent off.
• Here’s the RSL team: Nick Rimando; Kenny Mansally (Jonny Steele 66), Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Chris Wingert, Tony Beltran; Kyle Beckerman; Ned Grabavoy, Will Johnson; Javier Morales; Paulo Jr. (Fabían Espíndola 71), Álvaro Saborío (Yordany Alvarez 74)