Do not look now but the Union is on a real hot streak right now. A gritty 1-0 win down in the land of Mickey Mouse, Orlando, extends the team’s winning streak to four games and keeps them on top of the eastern conference.
Philadelphia Union vs Houston Dynamo Preview
After initially being ruled offside, Daniel Gazdag got his tenth goal of the season on a quick-thinking play to stab the ball home in front of Pedro Gallese after a good flick-on from Jakob Glesnes. The game was not without more VAR controversy. In second-half stoppage time, VAR got a good look at whether Daniel Gazdag pulled down Antonio Carlos. While the entire crowd and certainly the Orlando commentators thought it would be whistled for a PK, the ref signaled for a foul against Carlos.
The Union now get to come home to face a team that they have not faced in a while, the Houston Dynamo. Most Union fans will remember the heartbreak against the Dynamo in the Open Cup final. While they have been associated with some Union heartbreak in the past, this Houston team is certainly different from teams of old. Let us take a look at how the Dynamo is faring this season, the player to watch out for, and the prediction for this upcoming matchup.
2022 MLS Season
Houston has gone through a bit of an overall this season. The team fired head coach Tab Ramos after only one season in charge and brought in former MLS vet Paulo Nagamura. Nagamura has been around the league a long time, having won two MLS cups and three US Open Cups during his time here as a player. He came into the Dynamo having been the coach of SKC II for the past four seasons. There have not been a ton of changes, but the ones that the team has made have certainly made a few splashes. The key acquisitions for this Dynamo team were goalkeeper Steve Clark, striker Sebastian Ferreira, and Mexican international midfielder Hector Herrera.
Despite all these names, the team has not managed to get much better than they were last season. The team seems to go in and out of consistency, which has not helped Nagamura during his first year with the team. So far this season, through twenty-two games, the team has managed to accumulate a record of 7-11-4 for seven wins, eleven losses, and four draws. This is good for twenty-five points and eleventh place in the western conference, just five points off the playoff spot. In the team’s last five games, they are 1-3-1 while only scoring more than one goal twice in that span.
This one was a bit tough for this writer to decide. The Dynamo have some good options in the attack and it feels hard to choose from the plethora of solid options they have. Despite this, the player I believe the Union needs to watch out for is one that MLS fans will know very well, Darwin Quintero. While it was tough to decide between Quintero and newcomer Sebastian Ferreira, Quintero gets the slight edge. Let us start off with his stat line to this point in the season. Through twenty-one games played, he has scored seven goals and added three assists, same as Ferreira. One of the main reasons I chose him over Ferreira is because of his speed.
His ability to pick the ball up and break through several lines of defense has been an absolute help for Nagamura in his first season. MLS fans should know of Quintero’s pure athleticism having seen him in Minnesota. He knows how to exploit the space in front of the defense and between the midfield. It will be up to the midfield core to help communicate with the defense on his positioning. The last thing the Union wants is for Quintero to have time and space to launch an epic strike. With El Brujo out due to yellow card accumulation suspension, it will be interesting to see who gets the task of matching up with this dynamic playmaker.
The Union is on absolute fire right now. They are starting to figure out how to make the most of their chances and truly close out games, which had been a bit of a problem during the stretch of games where they kept drawing after giving up late goals. Daniel Gazdag was able to notch his tenth goal of the season last game, while Julian Carranza has seven goals and Mikael Uhre has six goals. There is the potential to have three attacking players with double-digit goal totals this year which has been unheard of with any Union team in the past.
I do not foresee too many changes to the lineup from the game in Orlando. With Jose Martinez out and Alejandro Bedoya back in, I could see Leon Flach slotting in the six positions and either Jack Mcglynn or Paxten Aaronson moving over to the left shuttler position. The Houston team can be absolutely torn apart on the counter and this is where I think the Union will shine. While Steve Clark is a good goalie, the Houston defense does not exactly fill me with any sort of fear. I think the Union will pull out a 3-1 victory against the Dynamo. Game time on Saturday is at 7:30 pm.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych