Here come the Union part 1: A win against Houston puts red line in sight

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The Union are unbeaten in four straight games, haven’t conceded a goal in three matches, and have scored seven goals in the last two. The fight that this team has shown since the beginning of the season is starting to pay off. However there is more work to be done. This week is the first two game week of 2017 for the Union. They will need to rely on their depth, and their recent momentum to get positives from it. Good results on a two game week could see the Union move from 10th to sixth in the east! The Union will need two wins to claim a playoff spot. The mid-week match agaisnt Houston can help the Union move closer to the red line.

Houston has been one of the hottest teams in MLS. They are first in the west, and have truly transformed into a team that can kill. They have a veteran savvy defense, controllers in the midfield, speed on the wings and lethal attackers. They are a dominant team, but one thing sticks out about the Dynamo. When looking at the break down of their wins and losses, all of their wins and ties have come at home; their three losses have come on the road. This hot Union team will need to continue to frustrate Houston to continue their road woes.

 

Keep bodies around Cubo:

Cubo Torres has been the comeback player of the year so far. He leads MLS with eight goals. His resurgence has been because of Houston’s ability to create attacking chances. Cubo feeds off the work of others. He’s a great striker, and can get into dangerous spots. The Union will need to keep three bodies around him when he makes his runs in the attacking area. Houston looks to get him the ball in the box, so the defense and d-mids will have to stick to him. Whether it’s Onyewu, Marquez or Elliot the center backs will need to body him. Bedoya and Medunjanin will look to cut off his runs before he gets to the danger area. The Union’s three game shutout streak is on the line. In front of them is the leagues leading scorer. This should be a matchup for the ages.

 

Don’t get caught on the counter:

Houston will likely sit back at times being on the road. The Union will have to take advantage of these times, but also be cautious. Houston has speed on their team. Elis, Quioto, and Manotas are all speedy playmakers. If the Union attack breaks and they get caught out of position, they will be extremely vulnerable. The outside backs will have to be cautious moving forward, because they will be the only ones who can catch the speedy wingers of Houston on the break.

 

Use possession and set pieces to win the match:

The Union can win this match if they keep the majority of possession, and if they create dangerous set pieces. Last weekend the Union picked apart DC United. They did this with their ability to keep possession. On the fourth goal they scored last week, they had 49 consecutive passes. This type of possession is something this Union team is built for. Keep the ball, pick out the right passes, and be lethal with the chances created. The Union can do this agaisnt Houston, and they can also be lethal on set pieces.

Medunjanin is felling it right now. He can turn any set piece into an attacking chance for the Union. His lethal range on free kicks, and excellent service on corners makes the Union’s chances to win stronger. A good corner/free kick can turn the match for the Union.

The Union have two matches this week so a few of the players who haven’t seen the pitch may get a start at some point this week. I’d expect to see very little changes in tonight’s match, and changes made on Saturday against Colorado. This match should be an interesting one if the Union can pull out the W they will be one step closer to being above the red line!

Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network later for a recap of the Houston match, a preview of the Colorado match and a look at the action from last weeks MLS matches. Until then, Peace out Union fans.

 

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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