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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Philadelphia Union🔎
Last year's MLS Cup runners-up continue to be a tough team to deal with in 2023.
An important week for FC Dallas is about to get underway as they head east to take on the Philadelphia Union tomorrow night at Subaru Park.
This will be the first meeting between the two sides since last August, when FC Dallas hosted the Union and won a midweek match 1-0.
Both teams enter Wednesday’s game fresh off draws over the weekend. The Union played to a scoreless draw with LAFC, while FC Dallas came from behind to tie the Columbus Crew 1-1.
Let’s dive into how FC Dallas can earn three more points on Wednesday against the Union.
Key Player: Daniel Gazdag
Gazdag has been putting up MVP-like numbers in 2023, scoring 13 goals and adding ten assists. While he isn’t the only guy that you have to contend with, he’s always a threat in and around the goal. He’s scored four goals in his last six games too.
Key Matchup: Gazdag vs Facundo Quignon
You could make the case that Asier Illarramendi could be tasked with slowing down Gazdag in the Union attack, but I think it will be more on Quignon to keep him at bay tomorrow night like we’ve seen Nico Estevez do against some of the league’s best attackers this season. Quignon has a good sense of how to keep these types of scorers from causing too much trouble for the Dallas defense.
Struggles against Dallas: The Union have won only two of 15 all-time meetings with FC Dallas (D5 L8, including a penalty shoot-out win), though those wins came in the last two meetings in Philadelphia, in 2017 and 2019.
But better at home against Dallas: The Union have only lost once in six home matches against Dallas (W2 D3).
Subaru Fortress: The Union have drawn two straight regular-season home matches after winning 18 of their previous 21 at Subaru Park (D2 L1). Still, the Union have suffered only one defeat in their last 36 league games in Chester (W26 D9) dating back to September 2021.
Defensive mindset: In the last four seasons combined, the Union have given up the fewest goals in MLS.
Out: Leon Flach (core)
Questionable: Jakob Glesnes (core), Jose Martinez (knee)
International duty: none
For the longest time, Jim Curtin has used a diamond-shaped 4-4-2 lineup. It has served them well over the last few years, but this season, he’s started to shift more into a 3-4-2-1 type of look. Since the game is in their home stadium, he’ll likely stay with what has worked for so many years:
Blake; Wagner, Glenses, Elliott, Mbaizo; Bueno, Martinez, Gazdag, McGlynn; Uhre, Carranza
Keys To Three Points over Philadelphia
Keep working the transition game - One area that we know FC Dallas will look to use to their advantage will be on the counterattack. In recent weeks, when FC Dallas has been successful in the attack, it has been when they force a turnover in the midfield and quickly break out with Paul Arriola, Jesus Ferreira and Jader Obrian. Those three will need a big road game if FC Dallas wants to escape with points.
Take more chances in the attack - In the same vein, FC Dallas has to find ways to take more chances in the attack on goal. In recent games, they’ve been a bit too picky in front of the opposing team’s goal outside of the win in Utah last Wednesday when they came from behind to win that one 3-1. We need more of that kind of chance-taking like we saw in Utah than the waiting for the perfect shot or opportunity like we’ve seen in some home games recently against Seattle and Columbus.
Be smart defensively - While the Union are known for their defense, they still have a very good attack, especially at home. They do well to defend with their attackers too, so giving up poorly paced passes in the defensive end will not go well against a team like the Union. FC Dallas defenders need to communicate better with one another and with Maarten Paes to ensure there aren’t any gaffs in the back like we’ve seen at times this season.