The Philadelphia Union and FC Dallas are sharing more in common these days than they would like. Both teams are trying to snap three-game losing streaks and both are trying to get their offense going. Both are also dealing with injuries.
For FC Dallas, in 12 games played, they have lost 12 players for at least one game. 2010 League MVP David Ferreira has yet to suit up in 2012. Number one goalkeeper Kevin Hartman has dealt with back spasms and has only played in eight of his team's 12 games.
For the Union, number one goalkeeper Zac MacMath will not be playing due to concussion symptoms. This means that either Chase Harrison or Chris Konopka will get the call. The odds on favorite would appear to be Harrison. While the Union coaching staff has never said who is the number two or three goalkeeper, the fact remains that Harrison has dressed as MacMath's backup in each of the eight games played this season in MLS. Harrison played the first 45 vs. FC Schalke, with Konopka playing the second half.
For the Union, maybe last week's performance vs. New York can jumpstart their offense. Despite their loss, the Union set season highs in shots (21), shots on goal (6) and corner kicks (11). Lionard Pajoy had a breakout game in front of the PPL Park faithful. Along with his two goals, Pajoy had eight shots, with four of those shots hitting the target. He actually could have scored four goals in that game vs. the Red Bulls. Contrast his 90 minutes last Saturday with his first eight games of the season and you'll see a big difference. In his first eight games he totaled just one goal with 12 total shots and three on goal.
Pajoy has been helped out by the Union's change in formation. Whether you want to call it a 4-4-2, 4-3-3, or something else, the fact remains that Pajoy is no longer a lone striker. The support he has received has allowed him to play wider and make more dangerous runs. If he can continue playing like he did against FC Schalke and New York, the Union offense will get untracked.
That offense will have to make do without Freddy Adu, who played his best half of soccer with the Union, and the best I've seen from him in a long time. His second yellow card in the 43rd minute sent him off the field last Sunday, and will keep him off the field vs. FC Dallas.
While some were looking forward to a Freddy Adu vs. Brek Shea matchup, you won't see either on the field in Dallas. While Adu just misses the one game, Shea received a three-game suspension from the MLS Disciplinary Committee for kicking a ball at the assistant referee in last week's loss at Columbus. Dallas will also be without starting defenders Ugo Ihemelu (concussions symptoms) and Zach Loyd (suspension).
This will be the first game for the Union following the Danny Califf trade. It's always interesting to see how a team responds after someone is traded. In this case maybe more so since Califf was a veteran, a team captain, and an original member of the franchise. How will the team respond not just to this, but also the news that MacMath is out? Will newcomer Michael Lahoud make his Union debut?
Join us for full coverage of the game Saturday on The Comcast Network, starting at 8 p.m. local time with the pre-game show.
Preview: Union at FC Dallas