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Matchday 25: FC Dallas at Philadelphia Union

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FRISCO, TX - MAY 14:  Forward Danny Mwanga #10 of the Philadelphia Union heads the ball against Jackson Goncalves #6 of FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on May 14, 2011 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
FRISCO, TX - MAY 14: Forward Danny Mwanga #10 of the Philadelphia Union heads the ball against Jackson Goncalves #6 of FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on May 14, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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EDIT: Don't forget, if you haven't already entered a prediction for tonight's game in our win a t-shirt contest, head here and do so immediately! 

0 games left in the marathon MLS season and tonight is another doozy. Dallas travels to Philadelphia to take on a Union side that has lost just once in 11 home games this year. If that's not enough, cult US Soccer hero Freddy Adu has signed with the Union and will be on the bench tonight ready for a half hour at the end of the game! It's all to play for tonight in what should be a fantastic game

Game notes

A week off! For the first time in a month, Dallas has not played a mid-week game and this should mean that we see a fresh FC Dallas team. They fought valiantly for the last month but obviously ran out of gas in the second half at Los Angeles and Schellas subsequently gave them two days off this week to rest up. 

Andrew Jacobson returns I think it's extremely likely that we see Andrew Jacobson starting his first match in a month tonight for FC Dallas. He's been dealing with a nagging knee injury, but I've heard rumblings that he could start tonight and you'd have to expect it against his old Philly side. I think we have all kind of forgotten just what a difference he's made in the Dallas midfield. I could be wrong, but I believe Dallas has lost 1 game this year(Kansas City) when he with the full 90 in the midfield.

Stiff defenses Tonight's game will pit two of the top 5 defenses in the league up against each other. Philadelphia doesn't score a lot of goals, but they don't give up a lot either. Needless to say chances will be at an absolute premium tonight and the first goal probably wins it.

Keep reading for more notes, keys, referee and prediction 

Don't change that dial 15 of Philadelphia's 27 goals this season have come in the last half hour of the game. With Adu likely coming off the bench as an impact sub tonight, it's extremely important to keep focus for 90 minutes. Incidentally, Philly has been vulnerable at the end of the first half and start of second half giving up half their goals within that time. 

Looking at the table 3 points are absolutely vital tonight as Seattle hosts Chivas USA in what is likely a win for them while LA is idle meaning a win would pull Dallas within 3 points of the Galaxy eliminating the game in hand that Dallas has on them. Tonight is a biggie.

Keys to the game

Hound the Frenchie Sebastien LeToux doesn't have the goals this year, but for Philadelphia good things happen when the ball is at his feet, the eight assists show that. He's incredibly overdue to break out for a hattrick and playing against the Dallas team that initially rejected him for a move to MLS, I worry that tonight could be the night.

Use your physical advantage Looking at the Philadelphia team we will likely see tonight, there's not a whole lot of size in that group, meaning Andrew Jacobson, Maicon Santos and Brek Shea need to be monsters in the air tonight in midfield and players like George John and Ugo Ihemelu need to make their presence known on set pieces. 

Referee

Geoff GAMBLE
MLS Career Stats: 6 games, 3.2 Y/g, 1 R
MLS 2011: 6 games, 3.2 Y/g, 1 R
Assistant Referees: Daniel BELLEAU and Eric PROCTOR
Fourth Official: Drew FISCHER

All-time Philadelphia matches with Gamble as referee:
FIRST MATCH

All-time Dallas matches with Gamble as referee:
FIRST MATCH

We've got a newbie ref tonight....that worries me, although anyone new is likely better than the average MLS ref

Prediction

Tough, tough game to call. Dallas is finally rested but Philly is near impossible to beat at home. Philly is playing without Ruiz now but they've still got some weapons. I've waivered on my prediction for this one and I think I'm going to stick with a draw.

1-1 draw