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Philadelphia Union Seek Key Win Against Banged-Up San Jose Earthquakes

Philadelphia Union

photo via Philadelphia Union’s twitter.

The Philadelphia Union host injury-riddled San Jose Earthquakes Sunday night in a key match for both playoff hopefuls.  The Union are coming off a nine day break after three games in seven days, including two in a four day period in hot and humid Texas.  They will host the Earthquakes, who are coming off a midweek 1-1 draw in Seattle.  San Jose are currently in 8th place in the Western Conference (6-9-7, 25 points), trailing fifth place Vancouver by eight points.  Philadelphia sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference (6-9-9, 27 points), trailing fifth place New York by just one point.

While the rested Union will be missing Brazilian defender Fabinho due to injury, Sunday should see the return of Argentine playmaker Cristian Maidana from a hamstring injury.  San Jose, unfortunately, has no such luck when it comes to injuries.  The Quakes will be missing several key players, including forward Steven Lenhart and defender Clarence Goodson.  The big blow, however, is the loss of Argentine playmaker Matias Garcia Perez.  He is expected to miss the next four to six weeks after suffering a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery.  With San Jose also expected to be with out defender Victor Bernardez and midfielder Yanick Djalo, the loss of Perez is huge.

Philadelphia has had nine days to recover from the 2-0 loss at Houston, a game in which the Union struggled to get anything going as many of the players were exhausted after playing 120 minutes just three days earlier in Dallas in an Open Cup semifinal.  The Union won that game on penalty kicks to advance to the club’s first ever final in just its’ fifth season.

Both matches in Texas were played in hot and humid conditions and interim manager Jim Curtin did not rotate most of the squad in order to keep the players fresher.  This culminated in the very lackluster effort in Houston.  The Union will be motivated by a passionate home crowd and a desire to redeem themselves.

They will face a team that has given them fits over the years and still have high-scoring forward Chris Wondolowski leading the attack.  Former Union midfielder Shea Salinas has also been difficult to play against and scored the only goal in last season’s match in San Jose.

This match should also see the return of defender Carlos Valdes, goalkeeper Zac MacMath and forward Conor Casey to the Union starting lineup.  MacMath is still the starter despite the signing of Algerian World Cup star Rais M’Bolhi last month.

M’Bolhi has yet to play since his signing, though his visa and/or paperwork issues have been cleared up.  He was in a minor accident this week in France as he was on his way to the airport to return to the Union.  He was unhurt and will be the starter when he deems himself ready to play.

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