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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Union-Dynamo: Lineups and pre-game thoughts

Philadelphia Union (4-1-2-3)
Bench: Blake, Le Toux, Lahoud, Hoppenot, Berry, Fabinho, Fernandes.

Houston Dynamo (4-4-2)
Bench: Deril, Cochran, Lopez, Carrasco, Creavale, Sherrod, Cummings. 

- The thought midweek was that there was a plan in place with John Hackworth’s starting XI against New York to rotate the squad. He followed through on that with a handful of changes, including the reintroduction of Conor Casey, Brian Carroll and Sheanon Williams after rests.

- The chemistry in the center of defense will be a key today for the Union. The position next to Amobi Okugo has been rotated often this young season, and the relationship between he and Austin Berry, and he and Aaron Wheeler has been underwhelming. With Wheeler back in the fold today (an interesting commentary on Berry’s place), they will have to be much better against an experienced strike tandem like Will Bruin and Giles Barnes, which can break you down a number of ways.

- Sebastien Le Toux gets a day off, which could be beneficial for him long-term, as he hasn’t exactly wowed of late. Le Toux’s absence on corners, where his delivery is occasionally sub-par, will be helpful, especially with Vincent Nogueira or Cristian Maidana taking over.

- At some point after his acquisition, you had to think you’d see Andrew Wenger as a wide forward in a 4-3-3.

- Both goals against New York came from untenably large pockets of space in front of the back four. The Union can ill-afford to replicate those mistakes today, especially with Oscar Boniek Garcia slotted into the center of midfield with Brad Davis out. That eases the burden on the fullbacks – though Tony Cascio can be a handful – but raises the onus on players in the center of the pitch.

- The battle today could very well be won in the middle of the pitch. The Union possess a manpower advantage there, with Carroll, Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira patrolling the area against Ricardo Clark and Garcia. However it happens, the Union’s personnel needs to have a better push forward and be more responsible tracking back if they want to end their winless ways.

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