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Know Your Enemy: Philadelphia Union

FC Dallas hopes to close out the month of June on a high note as they travel east to face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park.

The Union are hot off a 3-0 blanking of their rival New York Red Bulls last Sunday. Philadelphia got two goals from Conor Casey and a third from Antoine Hoppenot.

Philadelphia is on a bit of a hot streak at the moment, winning three out of their last five including their last two in which they outscored their opponents six to zero while Dallas is unbeaten in five meetings all-time against the Union, going 2-0-3.

Last year, in the lone meeting between these two clubs, the game ended in a gritty 1-1 draw.  

Injury Watch

The injury report is pretty clear for the Union heading into Saturday’s game. Currently only midfielder Michael Lahoud is out thanks to a sports hernia surgery. Outside of that, Designated Player Kleberson is questionable with a quad strain.

WATCH: breaks down the game in their "Scouting Report" video feature. 

Key Matchups

Brian Carroll vs David Ferreira – This game will be won or lost in the middle and who wins this individual duel will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game. Carroll is an underrated leader in the midfield for the Union as he does all the dirty work in front of his defense. You can expect a few fouls on Ferreira by Carroll in this one.

Conor Casey vs George John – Two big players going head-to-head in this one will certainly be entertaining to watch. Casey scored two goals in his last game out against New York and will be looking to replicate that performance again on Saturday.

Key Player for Philadelphia

Jack McInerney – The young striker leads the league in goals at the moment but has been quiet these last few weeks while the Union have climbed the table. He is a threat both on and off the ball. He will want to put on a good showing in what should be his last game before the Gold Cup.

Projected Lineup

Hackworth uses a traditional 4-4-2 formation that sees two holding midfielders in the middle with a lot of emphasis on wing play.

Goalkeeper: Zac MacMath; RB: Sheanon Williams; CB: Amobi Okugo, Jeff Parke; LB: Raymond Gaddis; RM: Danny Cruz; CM: Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel; LM: Sebastien Le Toux; FW: Conor Casey, Jack McInerney

READ: USSDA playoffs recap days 3 & 4

Keys to three points

Philadelphia brings a very direct approach to their game. They work the ball well on the wings with Le Toux and Cruz, both of whom are workhorses in that midfield. Carroll is the cog in the middle of the field that does all the dirty work so the defense can intercept balls and win 50-50 battles with ease.

Dallas will want to pressure the ball in Philadelphia’s defensive end. While Okugo and Parke are solid defenders in the middle, their full backs can tend to float forward, leaving them exposed. Speed on the wings is also key for Dallas with Fabian Castillo and Jackson being prime targets to cause issues for their fullbacks.

Then there is Kenny Cooper, a guy that Philadelphia fans call the Union killer. In three games last year against the Union, Cooper scored five goals. The game plan for Schellas Hyndman should be fairly simple, just find a way to get Cooper space in the penalty box and let the Union killer do the rest.

Dallas will still have to defend well in this one though to get a result. Casey is on a bit of a hot streak and McInerney still leads the league in goals with 10 on the season. Eliminating the passing lanes and space that these two have up front will be critical for Dallas.

Hyndman and the players will need to quickly put away the thought of the US Open Cup loss to Portland. Moving on and showing the rest of the league that they still mean business will certainly help erase Wednesday night’s defeat. Time to end this month on a high note.