Houston Dynamo (7-14-5) at Philadelphia Union (7-13-6)
3 p.m. CT
PPL Park, Chester PA
Series History: Philadelphia won the only meeting between the two sides, 3-2 on May 29 in Houston
TeleFutura (3 p.m.)
SportsTalk 790 (2:15 p.m. pregame)
La Ranchera 850 (2:30 p.m. pregame)
Fresh off a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Union head home to the friendly confines of PPL Park, where they are undefeated in their last five matches.
Coming to the City of Brotherly Love are the Houston Dynamo, one of the only two teams the Union have beaten on the road this season. Dominic Kinnear’s squad has had a forgettable season, but they will be looking to build on last weekend's win over D.C. United by defeating the Union.
It has been a very up-and-down week for Peter Nowak’s team. They experienced the tremendous high of beating Chivas USA 3-0 on Saturday in what was arguably their best performance of the season. Then, on Wednesday night, they were dismantled in a 4-1 loss to the Rapids.
The Union's downfall was their defense. Pretty strong leading up to the game — Philly had only allowed three goals in five matches — the back line was destroyed by Colorado striker Omar Cummings, whose early brace doomed the Union.
“That is not our team," Union assistant coach John Hackworth said. "Not in the way that we played the game, not in the energy that we brought. Teams will have those nights. This was one of those times when we knew we were going to be challenged. We did not play up to our ability.”
Hackworth insisted, however, that the Union would improve this weekend against Houston.
Things could not get much worse for the Dynamo right now, as the former two-time MLS Cup champions are a shadow of their 2006-07 selves.
Sitting on 26 points, good for the third-worst in the league, Houston may be forced to start third-string goalkeeper Tyler Deric. Pat Onstad, upgraded from doubtful on Tuesday to probable on Friday, is recovering from a nasty collision suffered in last week's 3-1 win against D.C. United, and backup Tally Hall is hampered by an ankle injury. If Deric gets the start, he would become the Dynamo’s first home-grown player to start an MLS match.
"If I get the chance, I'll be ready," Deric said. "I'm hungry to play. It's what I've been working for all year, so if the team needs me on Saturday, I'm ready to go."
Things aren't looking too sour for the Dynamo, though, after their victory over D.C. United.
"We’re trying to salvage some pride," midfielder Lovel Palmer said. "Other teams have playoff hopes and think they can come out all guns blazing because we’re not doing well. They’ll try to get points off us. We will do our best [to upset them], as we need to finish this season on a high."
Hereos & Villains
Bobby Boswell vs. Danny Mwanga: After sitting out Wednesday's match against the Rapids, prized rookie Mwanga could be in line for a return to the starting XI for Peter Nowak. Charged with shutting him down will be Boswell, who missed his team's last match due to suspension but did not have a great match the last time these two teams met.
Burned by Union midfielder Shea Salinas on the first of the Union's three goals, Boswell will want to have a much better match this time around. Keeping Mwanga, a player who scored and assisted in the May meeting, off the scoresheet, would be a great way to redeem himself.
Stat That Makes You Go “Hmm”
The 45 and 43 goals allowed by the Dynamo and Union, respectively, are among the most in the league. Houston is tied with New England for most allowed, and Philly falls in right after.
- Keep the home form going by attacking the weakened Dynamo early and often.
- If Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric does start, shoot whenever in range. The youngster will be nervous and it could be an easy way to victory.
- Go in with a positive mindset to build on last week's win.
- Protect the goalkeeper