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Matchday 22: Union Face United in D.C.

Aug 19, 2012, 4:43 PM EDT

Philadelphia Union travel to Washington D.C. to face United at RFK Stadium in Major League Soccer action.
union_united

The Union, who have lost two straight games for the first time since interim coach John Hackworth too over, look to right the ship this evening in D.C. against United (5PM/NBCSN). The Union may catch a break as United may be without perennial All-Star Dwayne De Rosario, who missed D.C.’s last match, a loss against Sporting Kansas City, with a shoulder injury.

The two teams did a bit of business midweek as the Union sent forward Lionard Pajoy to D.C. in exchange for midfielder Danny Cruz. It’s likely both players will debut for their new club today. Cruz will likely play due to injuries to Michael Farfan and Gabriel Farfan. The Farfan brothers may play, but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to go the full 90 minutes. Pajoy will likely play as a result of an injury to Maicon Santos and a viral infection for Hamid Salihi.

Union coach John Hackworth will have Jack McInereny and Carlos Valdes back in the fold. McInereny returns from suspension. Valdes is back from duty with the Colombian National Team. What will Valdes’ return mean for new signing Bakary Soumare and the entrenched Amobi Okugo? With their playoff hopes fading I’d imagine the Union brass want to see Soumare as much as possible.

He looked incredibly rusty last week, particularly when Sherjill MacDonald rounded him on the endline, but that is to be expected for a player making his season debut. Okugo has been fantastic alongside Valdes, but it’s important for evaluation purposes to see how Valdes and Soumare play together.

Another player affected by the recent transactions is Chandler Hoffman, who may see increased playing time with the departure of Pajoy. Hoffman, the Union’s first round pick in 2012, got the start against Chicago last week and may be a part of the first XI this evening.

No matter who takes the field for the Union they’ll have to deal with the attacking duo of Andy Najar and MLS All-Star Game MVP Chris Pontius. Najar is coming off of an impressive Olympics with Honduras, where he attracted the eyes of a number of Premier League teams. Pontius has been in tremendous form all season, leading United with 10 goals.

The Union have had their struggles on the road, going just 2-7-1 thus far, but need to get their act together if they hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

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