Two months. It's been two months since the Union last won a league game. They are in the midst of an eight game winless streak. Somehow they sit third in the Eastern Conference. Amazingly, if the season ended today they'd qualify for the MLS playoffs.
Tonight they face the Columbus Crew, who sit atop the Eastern Conference, five points clear of the Union (7:30PM/The Comcast Network).
Peter Nowak's side will face a shorthanded Crew team. Tony Tchani, Eddie Gaven and Emilio Renteria are out due to injury. Emmanuel Ekpo is out due to a red card suspension. Chad Marshall, although likely to play tonight, is coming off of a hip injury which forced him out of Wednesday's 2-2 tie against Houston.
[Update: Starting Lineup Released and Listed After The Jump...]
If ever the Crew were susceptible, it's tonight. The question remains whether the struggling Union can take advantage and pick up their first ever win against Columbus.
As Yogi Berra said, it's getting late early for the Union. After tonight the Union have just five games left on the schedule. They need to figure things out and get a move on.
Can they finally play a complete game? They'll need to if they hope to gain ground on the conference leader. Many people are calling this the biggest game in franchise history.
What can they do to win tonight? Well, finishing their chances would be nice. They certainly had the better of play last week against Portland, but were unable to score and settled for a 0-0 tie.
They'll also need their midfield to be active and actually be a conduit from the back line to the forwards. Their midfielders will need to provide some width and play dangerous balls into the box. Finally, they'll need to show a killer instinct in the final third.
The Union are running out of time to figure things out. Someone needs to step up and take ownership of this team. Sebastien Le Toux has been their most dangerous player offensively. Someone, anyone, needs to raise their game and take over.
It may be a bit much to ask of him considering he only joined the team a little over a month ago, but Freddy Adu needs to provide that creative attacking presence. The back line needs to play like they did last week in front of rookie keeper Zac MacMath.
The margin of error in Major League Soccer is not that great. In order to win you need to do the little things. Doing the little things is what made the Union so successful early in the season. If they have any hope of making it to the postseason they desperately need to get back to doing those little things.
Lineup I'd like to see tonight: Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabe Farfan, Brian Carroll, Freddy Adu, Kyle Nakazawa, Roger Torres, Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga
Final Score Prediction: Desperationc carries the day as the Union finally earn the three points with a 2-1 win.
The Toni Stahl Memorial Player Most Likely To See Red: Brian Carroll. Because why not?
UPDATE: The Union announced their starting lineup. It looks like this: MacMath; G. Farfan, Califf, Valdes, Williams; Carroll, Adu, Torres, Pfeffer; Le Toux, M. Farfan.
Yes, Peter Nowak is starting 16 year old homegrown player Zach Pfeffer in one of the most important games in the young history of the franchise. Wow. No pressure, Zach. Also, Michael Farfan is getting the starting nod up top ahead of Danny Mwanga and Veljko Pauno. Okkkkkkk, experimenting with the lineup.