D.C. United and Philadelphia Union meet in a key Eastern Conference clash on Saturday night at RFK Stadium. United are winless in their last four games, coming off back-to-back draws, the last a late 2-2 tie with the Houston Dynamo at home. Union currently lead the division, after coming back for a late win last weekend, defeating Chivas USA 3-2.
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REFEREE: Abbey Okulaja. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Adam Garner; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald
MLS Career: 109 games; FC/gm: 27.1; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 18; pens: 25
INJURY REPORT: D.C. UNITED – OUT: MF Branko Boskovic (L ACL tear); DF Dejan Jakovic (L hamstring strain); DF Devon McTavish (concussion); MF Santino Quaranta (concussion); DOUBTFUL: DF Marc Burch (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Charlie Davies (R ankle sprain); MF Kurt Morsink (R ankle sprain); FW Joseph Ngwenya (R MCL sprain); DF Jed Zayner (L knee sprain) …
PHILADELPHIA UNION – QUESTIONABLE: FW Veljko Paunovic (L hip strain); PROBABLE: DF Danny Califf (clavicle contusion); FW Carlos Ruiz (rib contusion)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Carlos Valdes
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: DC: Fred … PHI: Danny Califf, Brian Carroll, Jordan Harvey, Danny Mwanga, Sheanon Williams
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): United 1 win, 4 goals … Union 1 win, 3 goals … Ties 0
AT RFK STADIUM (1 meeting): United 1 win, 2 goals … Union 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 0
RETURN MATCH: 9/29: Philadelphia Union vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
LAST YEAR (MLS):
4/10: PHI 3, DC 2 (Le Toux 4, 40, 80 – Quaranta 63; Moreno 70)
8/22: DC 2, PHI 0 (Allsopp 22, 63)
• The teams split their two meetings in Union’s inaugural season, each winning on their home ground. Union’s 3-2 win vs. United, April 10 at Lincoln Financial Field, was the first in club history.
• Coaches record: Peter Nowak vs. DC: P2 W1 L1 D0 … Ben Olsen v PHI: P1 W1 L0 D0
D.C. United drew for a second consecutive game but saw their winless streak reach four games, the Houston Dynamo scoring a late goal to leave the teams in a 2-2 draw Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. United have 18 points from 15 games on the year, sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
• United took the lead after 31 minutes when, from 25 yards out, Chris Pontius collected a pass and took two touches to find space before firing a low drive shot past a sprawling Tally Hall.
• Just 10 minutes later, Houston was even. Brian Ching received the ball in the D.C. box and goalkeeper Bill Hamid dove in, catching the Dynamo striker. Referee Mark Kadlecik pointed to the spot, and Brad Davis stepped up and converted the penalty in the 41st minute.
• D.C. regained the lead again in the 73rd minute. Substitute Fred played a cross-field ball to the right wing for Andy Najar, who danced past Colin Clark and headed toward the post. A Houston defender intervened to strip Najar, but Davies was there to poke home.
• But throwing numbers forward in search of an equalizer, the Dynamo tied the game in the 89th minute. Clark had time on the left wing, and curled in a cross to an unmarked Brian Ching, who headed home from inside the box.
• United coach Ben Olsen made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Dax McCarty came in for Stephen King in midfield, and Charlie Davies replaced Blake Brettschneider up top.
• D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Jed Zayner, Ethan White, Perry Kitchen, Daniel Woolard - Andy Najar, Clyde Simms, Dax McCarty (Fred 59), Chris Pontius - Josh Wolff (Blake Brettschneider 69), Charlie Davies (Stephen King 85).
• Scoring on his 25th birthday, United’s Charlie Davies pulled into a tie for the lead in the MLS Golden Boot standings with his eighth goal against Houston, his second in as many games.
• “Andy [Najar] was fantastic on that whole play. It’s extremely special when a player can do that, he was able to basically get up to the goalkeeper and round him, and the ball bounced out to me. It was a basically a birthday present and I wasn’t going to miss that chance,” Davies said. “Kudos to Andy who made that play happen.”
• Chris Pontius also scored his fifth goal of the season, his third in the last six games. It was a new single-season career high for Pontius, who scored four goals in his rookie season in 2009.
• “He is creating good chances each game and he is a handful – it’s nice to see him coming into his zone, and he was one of the guys tonight that for sure put it out there,” Olsen said.
• During the week, United made a couple of significant additions to their squad. First they obtained Brandon McDonald from the San Jose Earthquakes.
• “He is an experienced, hard-nosed player who has played at both the center back and holding midfield spots in our league,” said United general manager Dave Kasper. “We look forward to integrating him into our team immediately.”
• Then United sent shockwaves through the league, acquiring Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for midfielder Dax McCarty. A five-time MLS Best XI honoree and five-time MLS All-Star, De Rosario has also twice been named MLS Cup MVP (2001 and 2007).
• “We signed one of the best players MLS has ever seen,” coach Ben Olsen said. “In order to gain a quality piece we gave up a quality player in Dax McCarty, but we feel that De Rosario is a game-changer that will help us in our push for playoffs.”
Philadelphia Union remained unbeaten at home on the season, getting a late goal for a 3-2 victory against Chivas USA on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. Union have 26 points from 16 matches on the year, now leading the Eastern Conference.
• 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 Paunovic 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 Paunovic, 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.
• Union manager Peter Nowak made no changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City at PPL Park.
• 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.
• Making his third consecutive start for the club, Union striker Veljko Paunovic scored his first MLS goal and recorded his first assist in leading Philadelphia to a 3-2 win against Chivas USA on Saturday.
• “I understand that I’ve been gone for two years and people have different opinions,” Paunovic said. “This was a game that was very important. People still see I have value to help the team – and I think I can do it for a long time.”
• Paunovic first started as an out-and-out forward for Union, but has since dropped back into an attacking midfield role, playing behind the strike pair of Jack McInerney and Carlos Ruiz the last two games.
• “I’ve been playing for so long, so I’m used to any position in the midfield or attack,” Paunovic said. “I suppose I cannot be a good goalkeeper, though.”
• Union have allowed more than one goal in just three of their 16 league games. They’ve won two of those – the 6-2 win vs. Toronto FC on May 28, and the 3-2 win vs. Chivas.
• “You’re disappointed as a group to give up two goals, but the offense came through, which is awesome,” Union central defender Danny Califf said. “It really gives us a lot of confidence. We’ve been living a little bit on the defensive end, in regards to us as a team defending, and not relying on scoring a ton of goals. But for us to come out and put pressure on them and score goals, it was exciting to watch and a fun game to play in.”
• Danny Mwanga scored his fifth goal of the season – all in the second half. Three of those have come after he has entered as a second-half substitute and have led to points for Philadelphia, either game-tying or game-winning goals.
• “I’m trying to look at things on the bright side right now,” Mwanga said. “If I’m coming off the bench, I’m put in a position where the team is relying on me to do good things. Right now, it’s really good for my confidence knowing I’m not playing as much but I’m still scoring goals.”
• Carlos Ruiz also scored his fourth goal of the season, his first since returning to the club following CONCACAF Gold Cup duty with Guatemala.
• “In the first half, I think we were stretched a lot as a team," Ruiz said. "There was a lot of space and that’s why Chivas counterattacked well. We stayed tighter in the second half. We went forward better, the midfield moved up together. We were more compact in the attack.”