Play by Play Plus: First Home Game, Column

Alejandro Moreno, Philadelphia Union

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

As I begin the first of a weekly column for the Philadelphia Union’s website, I just want to say how honored I am to be the team’s first TV Voice. I was first interested in working for this franchise when I knew that Nick Sakiewicz would be involved as the CEO and Operating Partner. Nick and I go back to our days of working together with the MetroStars. I look forward to working with Kyle Martino, the Philadelphia Union players and coaches, and the team at 6abc/WPVI. Also looking forward to the passion of Philadelphia’s great sports fans.

On to the first column:

Let’s start with 5 Things to Look For in Saturday’s Opener.

1. THE CROWD
 

This will be a huge story. As I write this, upwards of 25,000 tickets have been sold. With good weather, we’ll likely see 30,000 plus. The Sons of Ben will be loud and loyal, and they’ll have some help on Saturday.

2. THE LINEUP
 

We know for sure there will be changes from the opener at Seattle, and that’s not just because of the loss. Starting central defender Toni Stahl was red carded so he is out for Saturday, as is the starting right back in the Seattle game, David Myrie, who was released. So it’s two changes for sure, but I would think there could be four of five different players in the Union lineup on Saturday.

3. THE FRED FACTOR
 

This is one of the changes I would expect on Saturday, the insertion of Fred into the starting 11. Were he not suspended for the Seattle game, he would have been starting. Whether Fred plays centrally or out wide, he gives Peter Nowak a player who can break down a defense. Fred has some quickness, one on one ability, plus the talent to make the killer pass, or score on his own. His debut with Philly would come against his former team.

4. A DESPERATE DC TEAM

This is not the way DC United imagined their season would start. It’s not just two losses, but how about 6 goals against, without a goal scored. They were blown out in Kansas City 4-0 in their opener, then lost at home last weekend to New England 2-0. New Head Coach Curt Onalfo will want to turn this around quickly.

5. THE RIVALRY BEGINS
 

Philadelphia will have a couple of instant rivals in MLS, one being the New York Red Bulls, the other, DC United. Philadelphia will want to win big in front of a large vocal home crowd. You have Peter Nowak, Fred, and Andrew Jacobsen going up against their former team. DC will be desperate, not wanting to lose to an expansion team, and not wanting to start the year 0-3. While he is getting up there in terms of soccer years, Jaime Moreno is still a player to watch. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, he is a game breaker. Philly will have to be extra careful, if and when Moreno, the all time leading goal scorer in MLS history, hits the field.