Philadelphia Union: Keeping the momentum going against DC United

May 6, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) reacts after his third goal of the game against the New York Red Bulls during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
May 6, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) reacts after his third goal of the game against the New York Red Bulls during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Union will look to keep their unbeaten run going as they make their final trip to RFK stadium.

The Ins and Outs

Philadelphia Union (1-4-4) vs. DC United (3-2-4)

When: 7 pm – RFK Stadium Washington D.C.

Where to Watch: The Comcast Network

PRO Referees: Chris Penso, Peter Manikowski (AR1),  Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho (AR2), Younis Marrakchi (AR4)

Coaches: Jim Curtin (Philadelphia Union) – Ben Olsen (DC United)

Making Winning a Mentality

More from Philadelphia Union

The Philadelphia Union are gunning for their second win of the season as they battle D.C. United. The Union find themselves still at a crossroads between a poor start to the season and continuing to make a change and pushing for a successful end to the season. A winning streak could go a long way in pushing the team forward. It is important to at least get a point in a rivalry match on the road.

DC United are coming off a loss at home to a Montreal Impact side who thwarted the Union’s plans of a victory only a few weeks prior. The DC United squad has undergone quite a bit of change in the last few seasons. They are currently below the red line and could use points in this matchup.

To learn a little more about the DC side of things we welcome Ryan Keefer of Black and Red United for this week’s Opposition Corner below.

Opposition’s Corner

Chuck: DC is coming into this one banged up while the Union finally have a spark of confidence. How will this impact how DCU approaches this one?

Ryan: I’d suggest DC is coming into this in equal parts banged up and an unacceptable home result. First, the latter: DC lost at home to a Montreal Impact side featuring a mostly second choice group, save for Ignacio Piatti and Laurent Ciman. DC didn’t even challenge them. Heckuva way to kick off a three-game homestand where you’d expect to pile on points.

Now, the injuries certainly haven’t helped; at one point or another they’ve missed a bunch of vital cogs to the machine; creative midfielder Luciano Acosta missed the first couple of games (and was reported to have bone spurs as recently as 10 days ago), Steve Birnbaum is coming off a concussion, Patrick Mullins appears to be ready for his first start in almost two months after a problematic hamstring, and Bill Hamid will return after missing last week’s game. The team is still without Nick DeLeon who may undergo surgery for a hernia, and Patrick Nyarko, out for a month and counting with a hamstring. Nyarko’s ability to go at defenders on the outside with his speed has been missed, as the team’s been struggling to find something that works since.

All this put together, I think DC comes at this one with a little bit of venom after Ben Olsen called out their performance from last game. How they respond remains to be seen.

Chuck: Do you consider Philadelphia v DC to be a rivalry?

Ryan: If anything, DC-Philly is more of a friendly rivalry than anything. A few of the Sons of Ben were members of D.C.’s Screaming Eagles supporters’ group, and the SE/SoB relationship has been cordial with one group hosting the other for tailgates at games, particularly after the Sons suffered the loss of Eric Shertz’ unfortunate passing. I guess until there’s an animose moment it will be like that for awhile.

Chuck: Players to watch for each team

Ryan: Philly’s one to watch is easy: C.J. Sapong has killed D.C. in the past and he’s going to have to be watched by the backline. The question becomes who takes that role. Does Birnbaum? If not, who’s paired with Birnbaum, whether it’s Bobby Boswell or Kofi Opare will get that nod. If Opare, his last time against Philly in 2016 led to an ejection for two yellow cards, so worth keeping an eye on which Opare shows up.

For DC, it’s almost as easy! Because of the injuries to them at consecutive times, Mullins and Acosta have played together for 89 minutes this year. Last year Mullins was acquired from NYCFC in July and almost led the team in goals (8) at the end of the year as Acosta found his footing in the League. That magic needs to be reclaimed, and quick.

Chuck: Score prediction and goal scorers for each team.

Ryan: 1-0 Philly (Sapong)

The Lineups

The Philadelphia Union are ailing in this one. While Joshua Yaro has returned to training, he will not feature in this matchup. Maurice Edu is on track in his recovery, but there is no timetable for his return. Roland Alberg will likely miss out on this game with a quad injury opening the door for Adam Najem to earn his first MLS Start. Ray Gaddis and Chris Pontius will likely be game time decisions and if they miss out, look for Ilsinho and Keegan Rosenberry to deputize. Look below for a probable lineup.

Keys to the Game:

Attack Attack Attack: Find C.J. Sapong and push him forward with the ball. Continue to get as much out of a weakened midfield as possible. Sapong has been a big part of the team’s successful moments so far this season and with an early goal, the Philadelphia Union can control the pace. The defense has not let a goal in since the disastrous second half against Montreal Impact. Hopefully, the defensive form can continue in the upcoming matches.

Next: The Ole Onionbag (mailbag) week eight

Don’t get caught up trying too much in the infield: DC has solid players who can push the ball and do special things with it. Their forwards are not lighting up the league as they are missing Patrick Mullins. DC has a strong defense led by Bill Hamid but they can allow goals. Hamid will make the special saves, but can also be beaten like any great goalkeeper.