Last we saw the Union, which was ten days ago, they fell 1-0 against San Jose. Today they return home to PPL Park to face Chivas USA (4PM/Live Well HD). The two sides played to a 1-1 draw back on July 3rd. With a 6-12-6 record the Union have all but been mathematically eliminated from the playoff race. Despite this reality there's little to suggest that Peter Nowak's side will simply roll over and play out the string.
There's good news on the injury front as the Union will likely have Danny Mwanga, Chacho Coudet, and Juan Diego Gonzalez back in uniform. Although he has not been playing much of late the best news of all may be that Cristian Arrieta will be unavailable due to a call up by the Puerto Rican national team. Good luck with that, Puerto Rico.
In light of where they are in the table I am hopeful Peter Nowak will further commit to playing his youngsters. Although Gonzalez is healthy I'd prefer to see Michael Orozco Fiscal stay in the middle thereby enabling Sheanon Williams to start on the outside. Similarly, why not give Amobi Okugo a run-out in the middle of the park instead of Stefani Miglioranzi? Shouldn't Nowak, with an eye towards next year, use these last six games to evaluate his young players?
I've now gone 200+ words without mentioning Jonathan Bornstein, who will be in town with Chivas USA. I recently discovered that Jonny B is maybe possibly on Twitter (the account has not been verified), and have thus far refrained from mocking him directly. The key part of that previous sentence being thus far.
While I'll begrudgingly admit that he wasn't a disaster in South Africa I was nonetheless disheartened when US Soccer announced that Bob Bradley would return for another four years as US coach? Why was I upset? Because inexplicably Bornstein is one of Bob's guys. Rest assured it's a good thing I'll be attending a wedding instead of berating Bornstein at PPL.
Ok, that's out of my system. Who else will the Union need to focus in on during this match? Offensively Chivas USA is paced by 23 year old American Justin Braun, who leads the team with 9 goals and 3 assists. Defensively they are led by Michael Umana and Mariano Trujillo, who leads the team with 31 fouls committed. It's a good thing that more likely than not Alejandro Moreno won't start. Otherwise, with Trujillo on the field Moreno would have spent 1/3rd of the game picking himself up off the grass.
Although he was a bit shaky against San Jose I'd expect Brad Knighton to be in goal for the Union this afternoon.
Finally, I came across an astounding Sebastien Le Toux note on the MLS website. With 11 goals and 10 assists Le Toux has been a part of 21 of the Union's 27 goals this season. I am well aware he's had a great year, but that note hammers home the extent to which he's carried this team.
Union Player Most Likely to See Red: If he sees the field I am going with Coudet. He hasn't played in a bit so the timing on his bizarre two-footed 20 yard plus sliding tackles could be a bit off.
Final Score Prediction: Union remain strong at home with a 2-1 win.