Philadelphia Union vs. Houston Dynamo | MLS Match Preview

PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
April 19, 2014 (WEEK 7, MLS Game #54)
4 p.m. ET (TCN-Phi; CSN-Hou+)

A pair of clubs looking to put the skids on winless runs meet in a key Eastern Conference matchup as Philadelphia Union play host to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. Union saw their winless streak extended to five games, a run of three straight draws put to an end in a 2-1 loss at the New York Red Bulls at midweek. The Dynamo have lost three games in a row, their last match a 2-0 defeat at the New England Revolution last weekend.

REFEREE: Armando Villarreal. AR1 (bench): Corey Parker; AR2 (opposite): Matthew Kreitzer; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 32 games; FC/gm: 23.7; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 13; pens: 10


ALL-TIME (9 meetings): Union 3 wins, 11 goals … Dynamo 4 wins, 12 goals … Ties 2
AT PHILADELPHIA (4 meetings): Union 1 win, 5 goals … Dynamo 1 win, 4 goals … Ties 2
RETURN MATCHES: 8/15: Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, 8 p.m. CT; 9/20: Philadelphia Union vs. Houston Dynamo, 7 p.m. ET

7/6: HOU 1, PHI 0 (R. Clark 59)
9/14: PHI 0, HOU 1 (R. Clark 53)

  • The Dynamo have won the last three meetings between the teams, including both matchups a season ago, winning 1-0 both at BBVA Compass Stadium (July 6) and PPL Park (Sept. 14).
  • Union were unbeaten vs. the Dynamo in their first four meetings, until Houston won both legs of an Eastern Conference Semifinal Series between the clubs in 2011.
  • Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. HOU: P5 W1 L4 D0 … Dominic Kinnear vs. PHI: P9 W4 L3 D2

Philadelphia Union saw their three-game streak of draws come to an end, the New York Red Bulls claiming a 2-1 win Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena. Union are in a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 7 points from 7 games.


  • The Red Bulls took the lead in the 57th minute. Eric Alexander fed a streaking Roy Miller on the overlap on the left flank, and he squared a ball to an unmarked Thierry Henry, who side-footed home from the center of the area.
  • Ten minutes later, the Red Bulls doubled their lead. Alexander dribbled towards the goal line before clipping a ball to the back post, where Lloyd Sam was lurking, and he nodded home with a powerful strike.
  • But 10 minutes from the end, Red Bulls defender Ibrahim Sekagya was sent off by referee Ricardo Salazar after seeing the ball hit his flailing arm as he dove to a block a shot in the box. Sébastien Le Toux converted the resulting penalty to cut the lead in half, but the home side held out from there.
  • Union manager John Hackworth made three changes to the team that reached a 2-2 tie with Real Salt Lake at PPL Park. Fabinho and Aaron Wheeler came into the back four for Sheanon Williams and Austin Berry, and Cristian Maidana started in midfield for Brian Carroll.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Raymon Gaddis, Amobi Okugo, Aaron Wheeler, Fabinho - Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira - Leo Fernandes (Michael Lahoud 76), Sebastien Le Toux, Cristian Maidana (Antoine Hoppenot 76) - Andrew Wenger (Conor Casey 66).


  • Union saw their winless run extended to five matches (0-2-3) since their lone victory of the 2014 campaign, which came vs. New England on March 15.
  • “Not only did we let them off the hook, but we should have had them in the second half, too,” said Union manager John Hackworth. “We knew they were going to be dangerous if we let them hang around for as long as we did. Very frustrating to play as well as we did in some aspects of that game and then be down 2-0.”
  • Sebastien Le Toux remained perfect from the penalty spot while playing for Union, converting the spot kick for the lone Philadelphia goal. Le Toux is 8-for-8 on penalties with Union; it was his first goal since scoring the only marker of the game in the win vs. New England.
  • “There’s a little pressure when you take it, but I’m pretty confident taking them. … For me, it was good to come back and be more confident and be a good leader on this team because I know I’m not afraid to take any PKs this year,” said Le Toux.
  • After missing his first match of the season as an unused substitute, Aaron Wheeler returned to the starting center back, coming back in for Austin Berry.
  • Fabinho returned to the starting lineup at left back after missing the Real Salt Lake match, after he had to come off at halftime in the previous match vs. Chicago.
  • “It’s baffling to watch [the two goals New York scored] back,” said Hackworth. “You look at the plays we got right in this game and then we let those kinds of goals happen…it’s just not good enough. When I looked back at those two goals [postgame] in the locker room, I see breakdowns. I see our back line get pulled apart when we want to make sure that they are staying compact. We are talking about two balls that are crossed in the box and [the Red Bulls] win both. At the end of the day, we feel like we played well but they were just better in the box than we were.”
  • After not featuring the first team in the previous two matches, Cristian Maidana returned to the starting lineup in place of Brian Carroll.
  • "It’s frustrating because we’ve had a couple chances to win here and I thought [Wednesday] was one of those good chances, as well,” said Union defender Amobi Okugo. “We had a really good first half, but just didn’t bring that into the second half and they punished us. It’s annoying, but we have to take how disappointed we are and build on it for Saturday.”

The Houston Dynamo fell to their second consecutive loss, dropping a 2-0 decision to the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. The Dynamo are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 6 points from 5 games.


  • The Revolution took the lead in the 68th minute. Kevin Alston worked a one-two with Daigo Kobayashi to create on opportunity, and Teal Bunbury’s last touch left Alston with an open chance about 13 yards out that he buried for his first MLS goal.
  • The home side capped the win in stoppage time. From a long ball deep in the New England half, Jerry Bengtson was able to sweep in ahead of goalkeeper Tally Hall, pick up the ball on the fly and get into the box behind Hall, burying home past a sliding defender from close range.
  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made two changes to the team that fell 4-1 to FC Dallas at BBVA Compass Stadium. A.J. Cochran came into central defense for the suspended David Horst, and Tony Cascio started in midfield in place of Brad Davis.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, A.J. Cochran, Corey Ashe - Tony Cascio (Warren Creavalle 69), Boniek Garcia, Ricardo Clark, Andrew Driver (Omar Cummings 75) - Will Bruin, Giles Barnes.


  • The Dynamo saw their losing streak extended to three games in the loss to New England. It’s the club’s longest losing run in league play since losing four in a row, Aug. 28-Sept. 22, 2010.
  • “You have to keep things in perspective,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “Have things been going good? Absolutely not, and we understand that. On the other side of it, if we put a couple of wins together we’ll be right back on top. Reality is always a good reminder of what’s around you and I think we’ve experienced a lot to know that five games in we’re not out of the chase.”
  • The Dynamo were not able to put a single attempt at goal on target, with nine total shots for the game.
  • “These guys are trying to score. I just don’t know that we had any good looks at goal,” Kinnear said. “We just weren’t connecting passes in order to go up the field as a unit. Finishing is always about making the goalkeeper work or putting a shot on target and that never goes away. We always want to stress that… but when you don’t have enough opportunities to be able to do that, it does take away from it.”
  • Said Giles Barnes: “That’s what we’ve got to do – start shooting. I think we’re overdoing it in some areas instead of shooting. That’s just the confidence everyone has in each other to let each have the ball, but we’ve got to get more shots off. We know that our passing’s got to be a little bit crisper and we’ve got to get it right.”
  • After opening the season with back-to-back shutouts, the Dynamo have conceded eight goals over their three-game losing run, while scoring just twice.
  • “I think on the road we have to do a little bit better to finish out the game. I think 0-0 at half isn’t too bad of a result. We just have to keep the 90 minutes more consistent. We could be better,” said Clark.
  • Tony Cascio returned to the starting lineup for the first time since the season opener, when he was forced from the field just short of the hour mark with an injury. Cascio had come on as a halftime substitute in the FC Dallas contest.
  • After being forced to come off at halftime of the Dallas game, Brad Davis did not feature in the New England loss.
  • With David Horst suspended after being sent off in the Dallas game, A.J. Cochran made his first MLS start, in central defense.
  • “I thought the guys that came in and did all right. … Just didn’t play very well,” said Kinnear. Said goalkeeper Tally Hall: “We’re still a positive group, but I think there’s frustration at the personal level and I think there should be. There’s nothing wrong with being motivated to play better. There’s a long list of reasons to be disappointed and we’re going to use it as motivation to individually be better and as a team be better.”