The Union look to remain unbeaten at home as they face CONCACAF Champions League runner-up Real Salt Lake on Saturday (4PM/ABC). Peter Nowak's side returns to PPL Park after picking up four of a possible six points from back-to-back road games.
RSL sits in fourth place in the West with 20 points. Although they are technically mid-table in their conference they've only played 11 games. By contrast, the Galaxy, who lead the West with 30 points, have played five more games than RSL. Meanwhile, the Union are in first place in the East and have only played 12 games.
The ongoing CONCACAF Gold Cup has affected both of these teams in terms of player absences, but there is no question RSL has been disproportionately affected. They'll be playing without Alvaro Saborio, Arturo Alvarez, and Will Johnson due to Gold Cup duty. They are also without Javier Morales, who is out with a broken ankle. With Morales out RSL has relied on Fabian Espindola and Pauolo Arujo Jr. (who is dealing with a hip flexor strain) for goals.
The only Union player missing as a result of the Gold Cup is Carlos Ruiz. Health-wise the Union are in pretty good shape. Justin Mapp may be available after suffering a groin injury in the early going at Colorado. Amobi Okugo continues to rehab an ankle sprain, Stefani Miglioranzi, who also was dealing with a groin strain, made his first appearance in weeks during the 1-1 draw at Colorado.
The question remains - as always - who is going to score for the Union. Mapp had been playing out of his mind prior to the injury. His runs from right to left were incredibly dangerous. Danny Mwanga unleashed a wicked goal on Saturday in Colorado. Perhaps this is the game Jack McInerney opens his 2011 account. It'd also be nice to see Sebastien Le Toux get one from the run of play. His lone goal this season came on a penalty kick. Playing in front of the home crowd should hopefully embolden the Union to get forward and press the attack.
Temperatures should be cooler (current high temperature is listed at 75 degrees, with some rain), so heat-related fatigue shouldn't be an issue.
Here’s the lineup I hope we see today: Mondragon, Harvey, Valdes, Califf, Williams, Mapp, Nakazawa, Carroll, Daniel, Le Toux, Mwanga.
Final Score Prediction: The Union enjoy the home cookin' and remain unbeaten at PPL with a 2-0 win.
The Toni Stahl Memorial Union Player Most Likely To See Red: At this point I am just randomly picking players. Why not go with one of the "Candy Three"? I'll take Sheanon Williams.