Match preview: Union look to get back in win column, keep sliding Dynamo on ice at PPL Park

Similar identities wage battle Saturday at PPL Park (4 p.m.)

 

Houston Dynamo (2-3-0, six points) at Philadelphia Union (1-2-4, seven points)

When: Saturday, 4 p.m.; Where: PPL Park, Chester, Pa.; Tickets: Click here;

TV: The Comcast Network featuring play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas

Radio: None; Online: Streaming video via MLS Live; Social: Follow the action via Twitter: @TheUMatchday

Game notes (PDF): Click here

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They are one in the same really.

Both the Union and Houston – next up for Philly this Saturday at PPL Park – are a pair of clubs chock full of talent, yet devoid of positive results to show for it. In the case of the Union lapses in and around the final defensive third has the club with only one win in seven matches.

On the flip, Houston and its talent laden group that includes forward Will Bruin and midfield dynamos (pun intended) Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia come to the Chester waterfront riding a three-match losing skid, with losses to Vancouver, Montreal and New England, with three goals scored in its last 270 plus minutes of action. Although expected to make a return, Davis could miss tomorrow’s match, as he’s listed as doubtful with a right ankle sprain.

Still Houston plans to press on…

“We are calling it being ‘motivated to play better,’” Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall said earlier this week on the team's website. “There is nothing wrong with that. There are whole long lists of reasons to be disappointed, but we are going to use it as motivation to individually be better.”

As for the Union, it too would like to shake off an unfortunate midweek result against the New York Red Bulls and turn it into a positive with three points in front of the home crowd. To many of the players, talk truly is starting to become a waste. Everyone knows the talent is there now, it’s time to show it. This is a club that for five of its last seven matches have held edge in nearly every statistic against its opponent; primarily in possession and chances created. But without wins to show for it, blood is starting to boil.

Never a bad thing to have a disgruntled team focused and fired up.

“It’s frustrating. It’s annoying to do so well and then to just let ourselves down,” Union midfielder Maurice Edu told philadelphiaunion.com. We just seem to keep shooting ourselves in the foot, digging holes for ourselves and [then we aren’t] able to get out of that hole.  At some point we need to learn from it. Whether it’s capitalizing chances that we are creating for ourselves or forcing teams to be on their back foot – force them to get back into the game as opposed to us playing catch and chasing the game.”

The same can be said for Houston who has been forced to play catch up in its last few matches as well, specifically in an MLS Week 6 loss to New England. The Revolution’s Kevin Alston put Houston behind in the 68th minute and Jerry Bengston later closed the affair with his first of the season in stoppage time.  

All time, the Union holds a 3-4-2 in MLS regular season matches against Houston. Philadelphia will need to keep a close eye on midfielder Ricardo Clark, who has a penchant for making late runs into the box and getting one past the goalkeeper. Last season, the Union lost both matches played against Houston by 1-0 margins and in each one credit Ricardo Clark as the culprit.

However, with the Union their own biggest critics this week, look for the club to emerge sharper as it was back to the drawing board early Thursday afternoon following Wednesday’s match.  For the Union it’s about taking advantage of the moments created and ensuring the shape is better defensively in a plan to be the one back in the driver’s seat in a talent laden MLS Eastern Conference when the dust settles on Saturday’s clash.

“We just have to hungry, bottom line,” said Edu.  “We do all the right things to get ourselves in good positions and then we don’t finish it off, and it comes back to bite us at the end of the game. We just need to stop talking about it and actively eliminate that these little mistakes and finish off the chances we continue to create. I don’t know many teams in this league that beat us when we are firing on all cylinders like that.”

What are your thoughts on Saturday’s match? Leave a comment below.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com