The annual Fourth of July game is here! FC Dallas is hosting the Philadelphia Union for this year’s big game.
The Eastern Conference foe is currently lead by interim manager Jim Curtin. The Union are 4-7-6 on the season with two wins in their last three games while scoring a whopping nine goals in that span.
This is the lone meeting between these two sides in 2014. Last year, the two tied a wild game 2-2 as Blas Perez scored a game-tying goal in the final minutes of the game to help FCD secure a point against the Union.
FC Dallas is currently unbeaten in all-time meetings against the Union, going 2-0-4 in the six meetings. The two sides have tied their last three meetings going into Friday’s game.
Curtin only has a couple injury concerns for this game. Ethan White is the only player listed as out at the moment while Conor Casey, Vincent Nogueria and Aaron Wheeler are all questionable for this game.
WATCH: Toyota Keys to the Match
Andres Escobar vs Ray Gaddis - Pure speed in this matchup will be the thing to watch. Gaddis has a great ability to track back in the recovery department but does get pulled away at times when he goes into the attack. Escobar will be looking to pin him back to limit the amount of chances he gets at going forward.
Conor Casey vs Matt Hedges - Casey has shown in recent weeks to be a threat again on and off the ball. Set pieces is where he is most dangerous thanks to his size and ability to get a head on the ball. Hedges will need to find ways to keep the hulking striker away from goal and limit the space that he gets in the penalty box to poach a goal.
Key Player for Philadelphia
Sebastien Le Toux - The Philly fan favorite is always a threat on the wings. The times he is able to pull a defender wide before tucking away into the middle is when he is the most dangerous. Le Toux scored two goals in last weekend’s win over New England. Both goals came off his movement and ability to find holes in the defense to create chances for his club.
Berhalter has stuck with a 4-2-3-1 formation that sometimes resembles a 4-3-3.
GK: Zac MacMath, RB: Ray Gaddis CB: Maurice Edu, Sheanon Williams LB: Fabinho, RDM: Michael Lahoud, LDM: Amobi Okugo, RM: Danny Cruz, CM: Christian Maidana; LM: Sebastien Le Toux, F: Conor Casey
Keys to three points
Both clubs are currently on an uptick going into this game. The Union look much better under their interim boss while FCD has shown that they have put the dreadful month of May behind them with a solid performance in June (3-0-2 in all competitions).
FCD hasn’t won this annual Fourth of July match in a couple seasons, for them to break this streak they will need to get spread the Union out wide, control the middle of the field and continue to be discipline around the field.
Last week against Columbus, when FCD was successful in the attack, it was due to the pressure they created from the wings. Je-Vaughn Watson and Andres Escobar are going to be key in this one to spread the Union defense out and be able to pin their defense back. This will allow Blas Perez and Tesho Akindele to create chances in the attack.
The real battle will be won or lost in the middle of the field as well. Should Hendry Thomas be healthy enough to go in this one, he will be key in helping FCD maintain the possession battle and calming down the game when it is needed.
Defensively, across the field FCD needs to remain discipline. Last week’s game in Columbus was the first time in ages that FCD didn’t earn a single card. Keeping that kind of level headedness will go a long way in helping this team earn three points.