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Not sure if you’ve heard, but the Union signed Freddy Adu this week. Seriously. As I write this all four main stories on the Union website contain photos of Adu. Oh, and there’s also a handy link right there on the main page in the event you want to purchase a #11 Adu jersey. Freddy, Freddy, Freddy(!) is the new Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!
Now, whether Adu actually sees the field tonight against F.C. Dallas (8PM/ABC) remains to be seen. He is eligible to play, and apparently will be included in the game-day 18. But, and this is a big but, Adu has not played in a competitive game since the Gold Cup Final back on June 25th.
If I had to guess I’d say that Adu makes his first appearance in or around the 60th minute. Whether he plays or not the Union need to find a way to get out of this game with the three points. The U still sit in second place in the Eastern Conference, but have struggled over the last two or three games.
Their play has been lifeless. Perhaps the sudden departure of leading scorer Carlos Ruiz took the rest of the players by surprise. Maybe the uncertainty surrounding the transfer window has taken mental toll on the team. Whatever the reason, the Union need to snap out of it and get back winning games at home.
They’ll have their hands full tonight as F.C. Dallas, the second place team in the West, visit PPL Park. Dallas, coming off of a 3-1 loss to L.A., boasts perhaps the best young player in MLS. Brek Shea, who on Wednesday set up the game tying goal at the Linc against Mexico, is tearing up the league. He’s scored nine goals, which leads his team and ties him for fourth in all of MLS.
Shea is a 6’3” left-footed monster. He brings pace, a deft passing touch, and an ability to finish. He authored one of the best goals of the MLS season with this cracker against Toronto.
One player the Union will not have to worry about is Fabian Castillo, who tormented them in their matchup earlier this season. Castillo, who is away representing Colombia at the U20 World Cup, set up Shea’s goal and scored one of his own as Dallas beat the Union 2-0 back in May. No doubt Union players, and fellow Colombians, Faryd Mondragon, Carlos Valdes, and Roger Torres are relieved that Castillo is on international duty.
So what can Union coach Peter Nowak do to jumpstart his suddenly lethargic side? Well, if nothing else the Adu signing should inject some life and excitement into the side. Tactically, the Adu signing is perfect. He brings a desperately needed creative presence to the team. He can sit above Brian Carroll and spray balls all over the field. He can also step outside to the flanks and provide service to the forwards. Oh, and he can score, which as we all know is a major area of need for the Union.
Speaking of goal scoring, can we all agree that Nowak should just reunite Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga in the starting lineup? I think Mwanga will thrive with Adu on the field. Ruiz was a dangerous finisher, but he was not going to win a race to a ball played into space. Adu has the ability to pick out Mwanga and play balls ahead of him and into space. Mwanga has the speed and strength to get to and win those balls. Look for them to develop a quick chemistry. Similarly, Le Toux should have a field day running onto balls played into dangerous areas.
Defensively, should the Union grab the lead they’ll need to do a better job of killing off the game. Giving up a goal late in the game, as they did last week at home against Houston is unacceptable. Here’s hoping their training sessions this week stressed end of game situations.
Here's the lineup I hope we see tonight: Mondragon, Williams, Valdes, Califf, G. Farfan, Mapp, Carroll, Torres (as mentioned I would bring Adu in off the bench, likely in this spot), Daniel, Le Toux, and Mwanga.
Final Score Prediction: With Adu in the fold there’s going to be an electric atmosphere at PPL Park tonight. I think it helps lift the home side to a much needed 2-1 win.
The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely to See Red: I’ll say Daniel gets sent off as he’ll have his hands full with Shea all night.