Union face D.C. United in preseason finale

Due to a scheduling quirk, this will be the second meeting between the Union and Eastern Conference rival D.C. United in just four days.

But in this match, it's safe to say you'll probably see most of the Union first team play against that of United's on Saturday (1 p.m.).

The final preseason match of 2013 was originally scheduled for a 3 p.m. kick against Sporting Kansas City. However, Philadelphia and Sporting KC are set to meet next week in the regular season opener, so officials with the Disney Soccer Classic changed the tournament schedule to avoid a conflict.

The Union played to a 1-1 draw in Wednesday's scrimmage with United. Chandler Hoffman opened the scoring in the first half, while Kyle Porter leveled for D.C. United on a penalty kick in the second half.

These were the starting lineups for both teams on Wednesday:

Philadelphia Union: Chris Konopka (GK); Chris Albright, Matt Kassel, Don Anding, Greg Jordan, Keon Daniel, Michael Lahoud, Leo Fernandes, Chandler Hoffman, Conor Casey, Antoine Hoppenot

D.C. United: Andrew Dykstra (GK); Ryan Richter, Robbie Russell, Henry Kalungi, James Riley; Marcos Sanchez, Lance Rozeboom, John Thorrington, Kyle Porter; Walter Martinez, Rafael

However as aforementioned, look for more of a first team lineup to kickoff this one on Saturday, with most playing a full 90 minutes.

United made big news this week with the shock signing of former Union striker Carlos Ruiz. "El Pescadito," who scored six goals for Philadelphia in the first half of 2011, joins up with Lionard Pajoy, the former Union striker who was traded to D.C. midway through last season.

Ruiz makes up for the departure of forwards Maicon Santos and Long Tan. Santos went to Chicago and Tan found a home with Orlando City of the USL Pro Division.

The club also parted ways with midfielder Branko Boskovic and center back Emiliano Dudar.

But the biggest loss looks to be converted right back Andy Najar. The young Honduras international was transferred to Belgian champion Anderlecht, the current club of U.S. National Team midfielder idfielder Sacha Kljestan.

Still, D.C. United returns the core of a team that went to the Eastern Conference finals last season. Youngsters Nick DeLeon and Perry Kitchen are a great complement for All-Star veterans Dwayne de Rosario and Chris Pontius.

If Ben Olsen can replace Najar at right back, and the center half pairing of Dejan Jakovic and Brandon McDonald holds steady, then United should again be a top team in 2013. Like most clubs, United brought a lot of trialists into preseason camp. Among those players is former Union fullback Ryan Richter, and Honduran international Walter Martinez.

Offseason Departures

F - Long Tan (Orlando City)

F – Maicon Santos (Chicago Fire)

M – Stephen King (unattached)

M – Andy Najar (Anderlecht)

M – Branko Boskovic (Rapid Vienna)

D – Mike Chabala (on trial with Houston Dynamo)

D – Emiliano Dudar (FC Chiasso)

New Faces

Carlos Ruiz, F – Affectionately known as "El Pescadito," Fish left Philadelphia midway through the 2011 season. You can call Ruiz a controversial figure, but his goalscoring pedigree is unquestionable. He remains the MLS leader in playoff goals scored. He's ninth all-time in the MLS scoring charts and leads his country, Guatemala, with 55 goals scored over a 14-year-period.

Rafael, F – A 20 year old striker, Rafael joins on loan from Brazilian first divison side Bahia. He's a young designated player who scored 10 goals in the past two seasons.

Syamsir Alam, M/F – Another 20 year old, Alam is a native of Jakarta, Indonesia. He shares a connection with United part-owner Erick Thohir, who also hails from Jakarta. Alam is described as an attacking midfielder, joining on loan from Belgian side C.S. Vise.

James Riley, D – The veteran Riley was another casualty of Chivas USA's overhaul. Riley was set to stay with Chivas, before he was shipped off for a second round supplemental draft pick. United will be the fifth MLS team the 30-year-old fullback has played for.

Standout Players

Dwayne de Rosario, M/F – There's not much to say about the 2011 MVP. Plain and simple, he's a game changer. "De Ro" would be penciled into any starting XI in the league, and he's 100 percent healthy after suffering a knee injury that cut short his 2012 season (save for a brief playoff cameo).

Chris Pontius, M/F – United's other All-Star in 2012, Pontius finished the season with 12 goals and four assists. He's a versatile guy who can play as both a forward and a winger. With Ruiz, Pajoy, and De Rosario all onboard, Pontius could likely play on the flanks in United's best lineup.

Nick DeLeon, MF – DeLeon lost out on the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year award to Chicago center back Austin Berry. The Louisville product fit seamlessly into United's lineup last year, scoring the goal that sent his team to the eastern conference final.

Perry Kitchen, MF – Kitchen locked down the holding midfield position in his sophomore season. A steady presence in the center of the park, he's played 63 regular season games in just two years with United.

Contact Union writer Kevin Kinkead at k.kinkead@hotmail.com


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