After an impressive MLS debut Eric Hassli will be needed to continue his strong play, especially with the possible absence of Chiumiento. He doesn’t need to score but if the striker plays similarly to the first game it will create space for the rest of the attacking players.
The Union’s offense runs through Sebastian Le Toux whether he plays in the midfield or up front as a forward. Last week saw the Frenchman play as a striker, as rookie sensation Danny Mwanga came on a sub late in the game, and it was strike off the bar that led to the only goal.
With the international call ups of last week’s starters DeMerit and Boxall, Greg Janicki will play a huge role in the centre next to whoever Teitur decides to start. It’s assumed that Rochat and Leathers stay at their normal position so it will be either Brovsky or Duckett and Janicki needs to assist either rookie in their professional debut.
The addition of Columbian goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon paid immediate dividends as in addition to his shot stopping, it was clear his leadership will play an important role to the Union this year. He was able to organize the backline as Philadelphia held onto lead against the Dynamo and got a cleansheet.
WHO’S ON FORM
Local Boy Terry Dunfield had a great match at Empire Field against Toronto FC and was all over the field. Even if you take away his goal which gave the Whitecaps the lead for good, Dunfield was making crisp passes forward, blocking shots in the box and shutting down the central midfield paired with Gershon Koffie.
The other Columbian addition, Carlos Valdes, was another key on the backline and helped with the cleansheet. Most felt that the central defender’s play was better than Danny Califf who was selected to MLS Best Eleven last week.
WHO’S OFF FORM
If Bilall Duckett does get the start at centre half it should be noted that there were times in the preseason that he struggled when he played in that position. He will have his hands full with any combo of Union forwards in Mwanga, Le Toux, or Ruiz.
Second year midfielder Kyle Nakazawa got the start at right midfield and was unable to create much offense for the Union. His start allowed Le Toux to start at forward and caused last year’s rookie sensation, Mwanga, to start on the bench.
Last Game: 4-2 Win vs Toronto FC
Last Game: 1-0 Win at Houston
There should be no changes at forward, central midfield, fullback and goalkeeper positions. Teibert has said that he will only play 65 minutes max in this match. Chiumiento may be healthy enough to come on as a late game sub. The main area of concern will be CB where Janicki is coming off injury and Duckett may be getting his first start at a position he never played in college. UPDATE: The Whitecaps have signed Kevin Harmse who may get the start instead of Duckett at centre half, after he played the full 90 minutes in the reserve game against San Jose on Tuesday.
Having Mwanga start on the bench was quite a surprise for everyone including supporters of the team as the above lineup seems to be the best lineup for the Union. Expect Le Toux to start at midfield but also slip up to play in the box whenever the need arises to make a 4-3-3 formation. The backline has improved greatly with the addition of the two Colombians as Philadelphia will look to secure another cleansheet.
INJURIES (As per MLS injury report)
QUESTIONABLE: MF Davide Chiumiento,
PROBABLE: MF Russell Teibert
QUESTIONABLE: DF Danny Califf
PROBABLE: DF Juan Diego Gonzalez
The Whitecaps are on the road for the first time and after such a successful opening at home it should not surprising to expect a letdown especially with so many missing starters. With being so depleted at centre back you can expect Dunfield and Koffie to hang back more and the full backs will be cheating towards the centre as well. Will the Union start Le Toux at midfield or forward and does Mwanga start on the pitch or on the bench like last week? The Caps will have to concentrate on shutting these two down to have any chance. Hassli and Harris will need similar service like last week, even without Chiumiento possibly, to see similar results.