Sun, Sep 23
4:00 PM ET

Preview: Dynamo aim to build momentum in trip to Philly

PPL PARK, Chester, Pa.
Sept. 23, 2012 (WEEK 29, MLS Game #280)
4 p.m. ET (WPVI-abc6; FS-HOU+/MultiM)

Philadelphia Union conclude their two-game home week with a crucial match against the Houston Dynamo in the playoff futures for both clubs on Sunday afternoon at PPL Park. For Union, the arithmetic is simple: Win, or they will be eliminated from playoff contention, following their 1-0 home loss to D.C. United at midweek. The Dynamo find themselves holding onto fifth place in the Eastern Conference and the final postseason spot by just a single point, following their 1-1 draw at Sporting KC last weekend.

REFEREE: Edvin Jurisevic. SAR (bench): James Conlee; JAR (opposite): Mark Cahen; 4th: Ted Unkel

MLS Career: 51 games; FC/gm: 22.4; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 4; pens: 6


  • PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); QUESTIONABLE: DF Bakary Soumare (R knee inflammation); DF Gabriel Farfan (R ankle contusion); MF Danny Cruz (L sesamoid stress reaction); PROBABLE: FW Zach Pfeffer (R hip flexor strain)
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO – OUT: DF Corey Ashe (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jermaine Taylor (L quad contusion)




  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: PHI: Brian Carroll, Gabriel Gomez
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: PHI: Gabriel Farfan, Michael Lahoud, Jack McInerney, Carlos Valdes … HOU: Corey Ashe, Bobby Boswell, Macoumba Kandji


  • ALL-TIME (5 meetings): Union 2 wins, 7 goals … Dynamo 1 win, 6 goals … Ties 2
  • AT PHILADELPHIA (2 meetings): Union 0 wins, 2 goals … Dynamo 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 2

FUTURE MATCH: 10/20: Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, 6:30 p.m. CT (NBC SN)

  • The teams are playing for a second this time. A late Brian Ching penalty kick was the decider in a 2-1 Dynamo victory June 30 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • It was the Dynamo’s first win in league play vs. Philadelphia; Union had won two of the first four, with two draws. But Houston did win both legs of last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal Series, a 2-1 win in Chester followed by a 1-0 victory in Houston, on their way to MLS Cup 2011.
  • Coaches record: John Hackworth vs. HOU: P1 W0 L1 D0 … Dominic Kinnear v PHI: P5 W1 L2 D2


6/30: HOU 2, PHI 1 (Davis 20; Ching 83 – Daniel 46)

  • The Dynamo grabbed the lead in the 20th minute. Boniek Garcia’s cross from the right found Macoumba Kandji on the edge of the box. The forward slid the ball into the path of the onrushing Brad Davis, who superbly curled the ball into the far corner.
  • Union pulled back to even terms just 36 seconds into the second half. Brian Carroll found Keon Daniel at the top of the box, and the Philly midfielder turned and lash a bouncing drive beyond Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall from 20 yards.
  • But the home side claimed the winner in the 83rd minute after Gabriel Farfan’s sent the Dynamo substitute Brian Ching tumbling to the turf. Referee Fotis Bazakos awarded a penalty and Ching converted the ensuing spot kick himself.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-4-2): Tally Hall - Andre Hainault, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe - Boniek Garcia, Geoff Cameron, Luiz Camargo (Warren Creavalle 79), Brad Davis - Will Bruin (Brian Ching 74), Macoumba Kandji (Brian Ownby 71).
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-4-2): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams (Freddy Adu 84), Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan - Keon Daniel, Gabriel Gomez (Michael Lahoud 75), Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan - Jorge Perlaza (Antoine Hoppenot 64), Lionard Pajoy.


Philadelphia Union saw their winless streak extended to eight games as D.C. United scored the game’s only goal on Thursday evening at PPL Park. Union are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points from 27 games.



  • The game's lone goal came in the 67th minute. Freed from a long ball out of midfield by Maicon Santos, United's Chris Pontius made a move in the box, forced Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath to come off his line and fed an open Lionard Pajoy, who took the time to settle the ball and then volley it into an empty net against his former team.
  • United goalkeeper Bill Hamid was credited with five saves for United, who won for a second time this season at PPL Park.
  • Union interim manager John Hackworth made three changes to the team that came back for a 1-1 draw with Toronto FC at BMO Field. Gabriel Gomez, Keon Daniel and Antoine Hoppenot came into the midfield, in place of Michael Lahoud, Freddy Adu and the suspended Michael Farfan.
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan (Chandler Hoffman 70) - Gabriel Gomez (Freddy Adu 77), Brian Carroll - Danny Cruz, Keon Daniel, Antoine Hoppenot (Josue Martinez 57) - Jack McInerney.


Taking the Lead: Carlos Valdes, Philadelphia Union

  • Union saw their current winless streak extended to eight games, matching the club record set last July 29-Sept. 10.
  • “My feeling right now is that our team is struggling,” said Union team manager John Hackworth. “We’re doing everything possible to try put ourselves in a position to score and get attempts on goal, and for whatever reason, even though we had some really good looks,  too many times in behind their defense and not to get something out of it, that’s tough.
  • The last Union victory came July 29, a 2-1 win vs. New England. They’ve gone 0-4-4 since, scoring just four goals in that span.
  • “We want to win every game, especially at home. … I thought we tried to play a lot more than they did. They sat back and really kind of tried to kill the game and catch us on the counterattack,” said Antoine Hoppenot. “It’s tough to lose a game like that. They ended up catching us on the counterattack and getting one and then they just sat back and killed the game off. It’s a tough one.”
  • Union’s last goal scored by a striker came July 29, when Jack McInerney netted the game-winner vs. New England. Defenders have scored the last two goals; the others in the current streak came from a holding midfielder and an own goal.
  • “A little bit of me feels like we can’t buy one, no matter what, because I think those goals are going to come with those young players,” said Hackworth. “The hard part about it is that this is their opportunity, and for young guys like this when they get this chance they really got to seize it. We’re going to keep on teaching it, but at some point those guys have to create the chances and finish them.”
  • With Michael Farfan suspended, Keon Daniel was given his first start since Aug. 21 in the attacking central midfield spot.
  • “All we can do right now is give guys opportunities, see what our combinations are, and tonight we tried something new and while it created a lot the quality wasn’t there. So we’ll just have to continue to do that. The one thing I’ll say about the team is they certainly didn’t give up,” Hackworth said. “In fact they almost tried too hard at the end. ... Guys are doing everything they can to put themselves in a position to get something off, but that’s not the smartest way to go about bringing yourself back in a game. So that’s something we have to work on.”
  • Rookie Antoine Hoppenot made his third league start, his second in the last three games, in a wide position opposite Danny Cruz.
  • Gabriel Gomez made his first appearance after not featuring at all over the past two matches because of international duty.
  •  “We pushed Jack and Danny Cruz up high and tried to go with a more attacking lineup with Keon Daniel and [Gabriel] Gómez,” Hackworth said. “We’re going to keep trying some stuff. But, at the end of the day, we’ve got to start finishing some chances or we’re just going to have the same conversation again and again. I hope that doesn’t happen.”
  • With a loss or a tie vs. Houston, Union will be eliminated from playoff contention.


The Houston Dynamo gained an important road point, Sporting Kansas City coming back with a late equalizer to leave the teams in a 1-1 draw on Friday evening at Livestrong Sporting Park. The Dynamo are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 46 points from 29 games.



  • The Dynamo took the lead in the 58th minute. From a continuous spell of possession, Brad Davis took Boniek Garcia's pass in the middle of the attacking third, worked to his left to get into space, and put a low shot past a screened Jimmy Nielsen and inside the far post.
  • But Sporting hit for a late equalizer in the third minute of stoppage time. Latching onto a loose ball at the top of the box, Graham Zusi chipped the ball to the far post and C.J. Sapond flung himself headlong at the ball, nodding it past goalkeeper Tally Hall to keep KC atop the East.
  • Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear made two changes to the team that claimed a late 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake at BBVA Compass Stadium. Jermaine Taylor and Boniek Garcia returned from international duty, coming into the team in place of Colin Clark and the suspended Calen Carr.
  • HOUSTON DYNAMO (4-3-3): Tally Hall - Kofi Sarkodie, Jermaine Taylor, Bobby Boswell, Corey Ashe (Andre Hainault 74) - Luiz Camargo, Ricardo Clark, Brad Davis - Boniek Garcia, Will Bruin (Brian Ching 88), Macoumba Kandji (Giles Barnes 81).


Between the Lines: Houston's dynamic 4-3-3

  • The Dynamo still have just one win in their last six league games, now sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference to start the week. But they have not lost in three meetings vs. East leaders Sporting KC.
  • “Hard-earned point as far as I’m concerned, the guys battled hard,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “The way it came about is tough but when you look at it, taking five out of nine points from Kansas City the guys should be pretty proud.”
  • “We weren’t looking for a tie. We were looking for a win,” said Brad Davis. “Sporting is ahead of us in points and we are trying to climb the ladder. That would have put us a couple points behind them. We are still in good place for playoffs. We have five games left and we have to keep moving along and picking up points.”
  • Davis scored his seventh goal of the season, a single-season career-high. Now in his 11th season, his previous best was six goals, in his second season of 2003, in 26 games for the Dallas Burn.
  • Boniek Garcia returned from international duty and recorded his third assist in his last four matches. He has six assists in his 13 MLS appearances.
  • Kofi Sarkodie made his second consecutive start, his first two of the league campaign, remaining at right back.
  • “He’s defended well and is winning a majority of his battles and is getting into the attack. I think he’s stepped in and done well,” said head coach Dominic Kinnear. “Before, the defense was just playing well and the guys that were playing well were playing. Now he’s gotten a chance … and he prepared himself well and has stepped on the field and looked good.”
  • Goalkeeper Tally Hall was credited with a season-high seven saves in preserving the single point for the Dynamo, seconds away from his 11th shutout of the season.
  • “His positioning was very good and the guys defended in front of him pretty well so there was nothing really clear cut until the very end,” Kinnear said. “I thought he put himself in the right spots and it made it easier for him to put his hands on some things.”
  • Said Davis: “Thirty more seconds and we clear that ball one more time he’s got a shutout record for himself. You really want to be able to depend on your goalie to come up with some big saves and keep you in the game and the last couple of games he’s done that. I think he was huge for us again.”
  • New signing Giles Barnes made his MLS and Dynamo debut, coming on for the final nine minutes in KC. “He’s shown pretty well in practice and it was a good opportunity to give him a chance to play,” Kinnear said. “I thought when he came on he did some good things.”
  • On Thursday, the Dynamo moved to the top of Group 4 in the CONCACAF Champions League with a 4-0 win against CD F.A.S. of El Salvador at BBVA Compass Stadium. Goals from Giles Barnes (21) and Bobby Boswell (44) gave the Dynamo a comfortable halftime lead, and Cam Weaver (49) and Colin Clark (78) finished off the victory.
  • • Here’s the Dynamo team: Tyler Deric; Kofi Sarkodie, Andre Hainault, Bobby Boswell, Warren Creavalle; Je-Vaughn Watson (Calen Carr 58), Adam Moffat, Giles Barnes (Luiz Camargo 81), Colin Clark; Cam Weaver, Brian Ching (Alex Dixon 71)
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