Match Preview: Union versus Houston Dynamo, Wednesday May 17th, 7:30 PM

The suddenly-streaking Union look to keep it rolling against a strong Dynamo side in Chester.

A couple weeks ago, the Union’s season was on life support, people were calling for Jim Curtin to be fired and Jay Sugarman to sell the team, and life for Philadelphia’s soccer team generally sucked. Then the Union went out to LA and got a road point, came home and spanked their archrivals from NY 3-0, and went into DC and destroyed the United, 4-0. And while the boys in blue still dwell near the bottom of the Eastern Conference (because when it takes you until May 13th to get two wins, a lot of people are going to be above you), and while there’s still issues that need to be addressed, there’s a sense of perhaps, just PERHAPS, this tiny wayward blue and gold ship may be turning it around.

C.J. Sapong is on fire and in the running for the Golden Boot. Alejandro Bedoya is back at his natural position and playing well. The back line of Jack Elliot and Oguchi Onyewu has solidified, with the ageless Fabinho and old-turned-new starter Ray Gaddis flanking them. Andre Blake hasn’t allowed a goal in over three matches and looks like the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year that he is. And Haris Medunjanin looks every bit like the playmaker and opportunistic scorer.

All that will be tested on Wednesday by a red-hot Houston Dynamo team which sits atop the Western Conference. Last year, it was former Union man Chaco Maidana who struck a free kick for the Dynamo in the waning moments that found the back of the net and gave his side all three points with a 1-0 result. While Maidana (and Sheanon Williams) have both moved on, Andrew Wenger remains in the rotation for Houston and will surely receive a welcome home of sorts from the faithful in Chester.

These mid-week fixtures can be brutal on teams. The depth and stamina of your team can be called into question. This is the second Union match in five days; they’ll play another in Chester this Saturday as well. Working for the Union, however, is how the DC United game played out; the U had a man advantage for over a half hour with a 1-0 lead already in the books and were able to substitute freely while DC had to chase the game. Playing like that isn’t as stressful or tiring as needing to press for an equalizer, and that may help against the Dynamo.

The boys in blue need to do work on striker Cubo Torres and midfielder Alex if they’re to keep the scoreless streak intact.  Do they do it? I say no, but I also say Sapong keeps rolling and the Union pull a respectable point out of the match against a tough opponent.

Union 2, Dynamo 2