Philadelphia Union Host Dynamo In Crucial Eastern Conference Clash
photo via Philadelphia Union’s Twitter @PhilaUnion
The late season playoff push has begun in earnest. Tonight at PPL Park in Chester, PA two clubs fighting desperately to reach the Eastern Conference playoffs will face off in a huge clash. The Houston Dynamo are making their annual late season run to the playoffs but injuries and the big hole they dug for themselves earlier in the year may be too much to overcome as they visit an equally hot Philadelphia Union club that will be looking to shake off the disappointment of Tuesday’s Open Cup final loss. The Union are seeking their second playoff appearance in just their fifth season. This game will show just what kind of team the Union really are if they can beat the Dynamo, which they have not been able to do in the last five matches between the clubs.
Philadelphia is in much better shape to make the playoffs, currently tied for fifth on points with Columbus and New York but officially in sixth place due to goal differential. Houston is currently eight in the standings, five points behind the three clubs tied for fifth. While Philly is healthy and can pick a first choice lineup, Houston is struggling with injuries and will be without several key players tonight. Already without starting goalkeeper Tally Hall, the club announced that midfielder Oscar Boniek Garcia will miss the game due to a concussion. Houston will also be missing several other starters, including forward Will Bruin and defender Jermaine Taylor. It was hoped that Corey Ashe would be healthy enough to return but he was ruled out yesterday.
Jim Curtin still has the interim tag in front of his name but recent statements from himself and Union management indicate he will be in that position or something similar even if the club hires a foreign manager, such as Rene Meulensteen. Curtin remains unconcerned by these reports and has the club focused on playing soccer and making the playoffs. A win tonight will be huge for the Union in that pursuit and would further cement his credentials as manager. That the Union can field a full strength lineup will only help in that endeavor. The match will probably see the return of Algerian goalkeeper Rais M’Bolhi to the lineup after being out due to national team commitments.
Adam Stefanik is a writer for Stoppage Time Soccer. Follow him on Twitter @AdamSGT36