The Philadelphia Union will travel to Texas for a mid-week match against the Houston Dynamo.
Like the Union, the Dynamo are battling to get above the playoff red line. The Union are four points below the sixth place team in the Eastern Conference (New England) and Houston are three points below the sixth place team in the Western Conference (Real Salt Lake). Both teams need points to keep pace with their conference rivals.
Houston is coming in riding a 4-match unbeaten streak in league play. However, that doesn’t mean they are super hot, as only one of those results was a win. Still, Houston has a 7-6-6 record with a +10 goal differential, which indicates that when they win, they win big, while their losses are a little tighter. Houston also plays well at home, with 6-2-2 record.
In comparison, the Union have a 7-10-3 record and a -7 goal differential. That can be attributed in part to their putrid road record, where they have only generated 7 of their 24 points in 9 games. If the Boys in Blue want to realize their dream of securing a playoff spot, they need to start getting results on the road.
The individual stats show why Houston has such a good goal differential. They have speedy wingers in Romell Quioto (3 goals, 11 assists) and Alberth Elis (9 goals, 7 assists). They will work with their number 10, Tomas Martinez, in trying to get the ball to their striker Mauro Manotas, who has 10 goals so far. They also have wingback DaMarcus Beasley, who will push up the ball on the left. The Union’s young centerbacks will have their hands full containing the Dynamo offense.
Lately the Union have looked very dangerous on the attack. They dominated the first half against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday, with C.J. Sapong finally coming out of his funk and scoring a goal. But the Union had the wind taken out of their sails in the second, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic provided an assist and a goal. After that, the Union were forced to chase the game, which they aren’t very good at, and they ended up losing 3-1. I can’t even be upset about that though, because, Zlatan.
If the Union could learn how to finish chances, they’d have a ton of goals. This match could come down to who has the better goalkeeper, which would be good for the Union, because no one would rate Houston’s Joe Willis above Andre Blake.
But it’s not good to count on your goalie to win the game for you. Until the Union can show some improvement on the road, I cannot predict that they will get one road point, much less three. Prediction: Dynamo 3, Union 1.
NOTE: U.S. Soccer has announced that Union will host the Chicago Fire in their U.S. Open Cup semifinal match, which will take place on Wednesday August 8. However, they cannot host the U.S. Open Cup final if they beat Chicago.