The Philadelphia Union (8-8-6, 30 pts, third place Eastern Conference) look to get back to their winning ways, after the embarrassing – but some say not surprising – rout by the Montreal Impact, 5-1 on Saturday the 23rd, hosting Real Salt Lake (8-6-7, 31 pts, fifth place Western Conference). Another incentive for the U is that it would be their eighth MLS home win of the season – a franchise record. The Union though have been exceptional in bouncing back from losses, 5-1-0, this season. RSL has not won a game in a month, so they are also looking to get back on track. Their last result was a 1-1 draw at the San Jose Earthquakes on Friday the 22nd. These teams have tied the last four games against each other, and the Union have never beaten them (0-2-6), and still have not beaten a Western Conference team this season. Their last meeting on 3/14/15 in Utah was a 3-3 draw. Fernando Aristeguieta (now playing for Red Star FC in France’s Ligue2) scored twice for the Union in the 1st half, and the third was an own goal. RSL’s Javier Morales and Jamison Olave got the first two goals, but the crusher for the Union was Alvaro Saborio‘s equalizer PK in the 85’ on a foul by Maurice Edu. This will be their only regular season MLS meeting this season.
Both teams have had a week off thanks to the MLS All Star Break, but it was obvious in Montreal that this Union team was out of gas, having played 11 times in 39 days “We look forward to a new challenge, and I know my guys will bounce back against Salt Lake in this building,” Union Coach Jim Curtin said. “They’re itching to get back on the field, so you saw that today in training after we gave them a day off to survive what has been a tough stretch.”
RSL’s main offensive weapon is F Yura Movsisyan. He leads his team with 20 games played, 19 starts, 1,601 minutes, 53 shots – 23 on goal – and seven goals. One of those goals was a game winner and he also has one assist. Not far behind is MF Juan Manuel Martinez with six goals and two assists. Their GK Nick Rimando is 7-3-7, with three clean sheets, starting 17 games. (Editor’s note: Movsisyan will miss the match with a hip flexor).
Andre Blake (see his SportsCenter #1 play save here )and Keegan Rosenberry each played the full first half in the All Star Game on Thursday, but they are likely to start on Sunday. Tranquillo Barnetta is out on a yellow card accumulation. Fabinho, Raymon Gaddis and RSL’s Tony Beltran are all on yellow card warnings.
Union possible starting XI: (4-2-3-1)
1 Andre Blake (GK), 12 Keegan Rosenberry (DF), 4 Ken Tribbett (DF), 16 Richard Marquez (DF), 33 Fabinho (DF), 2 Warren Creavalle (MF), 7 Brian Carroll (MF), 25 Ilsinho (MF), 6 Roland Alberg (MF), 13 Chris Pontius (MF), 17 C.J. Sapong (FW)
A well rested Union has no excuses coming into this home match and I have faith in the Sons of Ben and the rest of the crowd cheering the Boys in Blue on to a 2-1 victory, and I will stick with my oft repeated hope for C. J. Sapong to get a goal in the run of play for the game winner late in the second half.