Philadelphia Union (6-8-9, 27 points) at Houston Dynamo (6-12-4, 22 points)
What: Major League Soccer regular season match
When: Friday, 9 p.m., ET (kickoff 9:23 p.m); Where: BBVA Compass Arena, Houston
TV: NBC Sports Network featuring play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Eddie Robinson
Game notes (PDF): Click here
Similar boat for both teams this Friday as a primetime Eastern Conference clash awaits the Union against Houston (9 p.m. ET, NBC Sports).
Similar in that as a race for the MLS playoffs continues, both teams continue to scratch and claw at a chance for a postseason berth. The Union has a bit more breathing room in that its 6-8-9 (27 points) MLS record has the club currently holding the last and final spot in the East. Conversely, Houston is in the doghouse, but is just five points shy of the fifth and final spot and hoping for a potential six-point swing that could bring their aspirations one step closer.
The Union is already riding the high off a win in Texas, following Tuesday night’s penalty kick shootout extravaganza against FC Dallas to qualify for the finals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The match will be the club’s third in a seven-day stretch beginning with a 2-1 win over Montreal last week at PPL Park. Union interim boss Jim Curtin has been on a tear compiling a 7-1-3 record since taking over the reins including going 3-0-3 in the club’s last six (in all competitions).
“Guys have performed like men and that’s something [this technical staff] has been striving for,” Curtin said following the club’s win Tuesday. “It’s about grinding it out and fighting for the guy next to you and I think we’ve been doing that consistently.”
As for Houston, though it maybe reeling, this is a club led by Dominic Kinnear that has always found itself nestled in the postseason picture. The four-time MLS Cup finalists and two-time champs look to return to grab points at home against the Union, playing in the tight confines of BBVA Compass Arena. It’s an expanse (or lack thereof) that works for the Houston as the club has won five of its six at home and have scored 16 goals in 11 matches there.
Houston enters the match coming off a 2-0 loss to Western Conference leaders Seattle hoping that the chances it created can be finished this time around. On the flip side, while that claim could have been said of Philly for the first half of the season, the club has been on a scoring tear, with an equal balance of goals scored both on the road and at home (18) in addition with pulling three points away from PPL Park the same number of times its been the host (three).
Now the Union will look to keep the same level of play up against a hungry team out to switch spots with them in the standings.
“Is it a difficult situation? Yeah, but we aren’t making excuses,” said Curtin. “We have a short turnaround in arguably one of the tougher places to play in our League [in Houston’s BBVA Compass Arena]. We are dealing with tough weather, tough fans and a team that’s desperate right now. They’ll be seeing blood in the water considering we have just played 120 minutes [in our Open Cup semifinal].”
The plan however is to bring in additional troops to Texas that weren’t with the team to help combat Houston as fresh legs will be vital. On Thursday, Curtin told members of the media that midfielder Pedro Ribeiro was recalled from the team's developmental affiliate in Harrisburg to provide support.
“We had planned on calling some guys in to join us down here, so hopefully we’ll get a good mix of guys that are still fresh enough to give us max effort and guys that are fresh to come in and support," said Curtin. "Our main goal now is to go down there and get a result in Houston.”
What do you think of the short turn around against Houston? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org