CHESTER, Pa. — All of a sudden, the Philadelphia Union have to prepare for a new-look D.C. United team this Saturday when the Eastern Conference foes meet at RFK Stadium (7 pm ET, FOX Soccer).
And for the Union, who begin a three-game road swing in the nation’s capital, dealing with United’s new acquisitions — playmaker Dwayne De Rosario and defender Brandon McDonald — will only make a tough matchup even harder.
“They’re both quality players,” Union manager Peter Nowak said during his weekly press conference from PPL Park Wednesday. “We have a very difficult game in front of us.”
Nowak said McDonald, a physical defender who was acquired from San Jose in exchange for allocation money, will shore up DC’s back line or give the team another option in the defensive midfield.
And De Rosario, a two-time MLS Cup MVP who was traded to New York for Dax McCarty, has simply been one of the league’s most dangerous attacking players over the past decade.
“Dwayne, over the years, is a guy that’s been utilized as a playmaker, a striker, a withdrawn forward, and with his free role, he’s very unpredictable,” Nowak said. “He’s always mobile, always in different positions. You have to be aware of all of the qualities he brings to the table and also how he can serve the players that play in front of him. All of those qualities make him a very dangerous player.”
There’s no denying putting De Rosario into a lineup that already features Charlie Davies, who’s currently tied for the MLS lead with eight goals, will turn United into an explosive attacking squad.
But the Philly defense has been able to contain other dynamic offensive players this season, and have only given up 14 goals through 16 games — a large reason why they currently sit atop the Eastern Conference table with a 7-4-5 record.
Saturday’s game will simply be another test for a unit that’s been passing most of their tests this season with flying colors.
“We’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing,” Union right back Sheanon Williams said. “Overall, I don’t think we get ready for one person. We get ready for them as a team.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.