Match preview: Union readies for rival D.C. United in a continued push for the playoffs
Philadelphia Union at D.C. United
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.; Where: RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
TV: The Comcast Network with play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Alejandro Moreno
Radio: None; Online: Watch streaming video via MLS Live
Game notes and other information: Click here
This may be the most difficult week of decision making for Union manager John Hackworth.
Heading into a crucial match against D.C. United at RFK Stadium Saturday night (7 p.m., The Comcast Network), the Union will be without defenders Fabinho (red card) and Sheanon Williams (yellow card accumulation).
While D.C. United (3-22-6, 15 points) has the worst record in MLS, they still won the U.S. Open Cup and this is still a rivalry match. Anything can happen when these two clubs meet on the pitch.
With three huge points at stake, Hackworth realizes that there are tweaks to be made to the roster.
The Union (12-10-9, 45 points) enter this match in the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“No matter how you look at it, we’re going to have to change some things,” Hackworth said. “We’re going to have to move some people around.”
Ray Gaddis was tremendous in last Saturday’s dramatic 1-0 victory over Toronto FC. Without Fabinho and Williams, there are decisions to be made.
“If you leave Ray at left back, then you’ve got to replace a right back,” Hackworth said. “And there’s some obvious choices there, and some that I don’t really want to disclose, but that have been playing there throughout the course of the year so far, (Chris) Albright, Matt Kassel.”
Regardless of who plays, the Union simply need to keep executing.
“That’s been the message all season,” Gaddis said. “At this point of the season, there’s no time to worry about this or that. We just have to go out and play and execute the plan that the coaches have for us. We have to go and give everything we’ve got.”
Following the win over Toronto FC, Sebastien Le Toux and Hackworth had a discussion.
“Sebastien and I were joking about it on Saturday night that he grew up as a right back, he came to the MLS as a right back and that would be an option,” Hackworth said.
It’s likely that a player or two will be playing at an unlikely position.
“Sebastien has obviously played a lot on the left for us this year, so he’s the first choice,” Hackworth said. “You have Keon Daniel, who certainly has contributed majorly to the success of our season thus far, and is 100 percent healthy. There’s some logical choices there, but no matter what, we’re going to have to juggle it a little bit and some guys are going to have to play where they haven’t previously played for us.” There are certainly extra challenges in play Saturday night.
“That’s going to happen in a long season,” Le Toux said. “For us as players, not a whole lot changes. We have to execute like we always do. If we do that, then we’ll be OK.”
What do you think the Union need to do Saturday to continue success? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com