Dynamo television play-by-play announcer Glenn Davis weighs in with his thoughts on the Houston-Philadelphia series, which kicks off Sunday:
Let’s take a look at the Philadelphia Union, who will be a difficult opponent in the playoffs for the Dynamo. A few things to consider about the Union:
1. Game 1 at PPL Park
Union fans will be up for this one, as in only their second year in the league, they have made the playoffs. The environment should be exceptional on Sunday but should not awe the Dynamo, especially after a recent result at Portland. Still, everything gets magnified now, including decisions on the ball, by referees, and by coaches. The playoffs are a new pressure, and with youth on both teams, some might just not live up to it. The Dynamo got a draw at Philly during the regular season. This game is essential for the Dynamo to position themselves for Game 2 back at Robertson on Thursday night.
2. Sébastien Le Toux
His incessant movement and mobility will have to be honored, and he comes into this game the most productive goalscorer on both teams (10 goals in his last 12 games). I have often felt that strikers who move a lot can bring out the best in the concentration of opposing defenders. There is no doubt the Dynamo as a whole must be aware of where Le Toux is at all times. It will be an exercise in concentration.
Le Toux started the year struggling to score goals but has broken out of it lately. Will young talent Danny Mwanga play next to him? Will Velkjo Paunovic play underneath him, and has he recovered from injury?
3. Strength in the core
The Union has this, with Faryd Mondragon in goal, Colombian Carlos Valdes at center back, Brian Carroll in midfield as a shield, and Le Toux up front. The moves they made in the offseason made this team more difficult to break down. Oh, another note on Valdes: He will get forward from his center-back position on occasion.
4. Freddy factor
Freddy Adu could line up in a variety of areas. Will it be in front of Brian Carroll in midfield, underneath Le Toux as a withdrawn forward? Or does he even start at all? No telling with Peter Nowak.
5. The Philly approach
The Union need to come back to Robertson Stadium with a cushion of a goal or two. Personally, one won’t be enough in my mind. This means that if this game is tied relative to time, the pressure could mount on the Union, who know they have to score goals. Could that leave themselves opened up? The onus is on them to attack.