MLS First Kick 2011: Philadelphia Union vs. Houston Dynamo Preview

Posted In Match Previews and Reviews - By Brian Mechanick On Saturday, March 19th, 2011 With 1 Comment

With a new playoff system that rewards the top-3 teams in each conference, two teams will take the field in Houston’s Robertson Stadium to prove that they belong in the elite trio of the East. Houston, new to the conference, look to regain their winning play that disappeared last year. For the Union, after an offseason of major rebuilding and a mysterious pre-season in Greece that saw them play no MLS competition, the mission is clear: get a result.

The new players should be a major factor down the spine of the Union tonight, as GK Faryd Mondragon, DF Carlos Valdes, DM Brian Carroll, and FW Carlos Ruiz add veteran experience to the young side. Look for the defense to be much improved with the addition of the first three, making things tough on the Dynamo. The attack will remain the Union’s strength with a top notch attacking trio of Ruiz, Danny Mwanga, and Sebastien Le Toux. If the Union, can get out on the counter and get quality linking play through the midfield, expect goals from the Union.

For Houston, the key is the midfield, where Brad Davis, Danny Cruz, and Geoff Cameron will have to help out a rebuilt backline and forward core. Dynamo legend Brian Ching is likely out, so rookie Will Bruin and one out of the group of former Crew member Jason Garey, Dominic Oduro, and Cam Weaver are likely to lead the line. New acquisition Hunter Freeman is going to be a man of interest, as he mans the right back against Justin Mapp. And of course there is the goalkeeper, where Tally Hall takes the reigns from the eternal Pat Onstad.

Philadelphia Union Player to watch: Brian Carroll. Against the Dynamo’s talented midfield, Carroll will be absolutely key in breaking up play and launching the Union counter-attack. After so many great years in DC and Columbus, Carroll has the opportunity to win over the Sons of Ben with a composed performance in the center of the pitch.

Houston Dynamo Player to watch: Will Bruin. The scoring load is going to fall on the shoulders of the big Indiana product early, as he has to attempt to fill in the number 9 role that Brian Ching has owned for ages. Bruin was a dynamic goal scorer on the collegiate level, but having to deal with the strength of Danny Califf could prove too tough. If Bruin can win balls in the air and hold the ball up, expect things to happen for Houston.

Prediction: A rebuilt Houston defense and lack of proven goal scoring ability proves to be Houston’s downfall, as the Union go on the road and sneak out a 1-0 upset.

About Brian Mechanick - University of Michigan student, Michigan Daily Writer, ΑΣΦ Brother, Philly Teams/Tottenham/USMNT Supporter, Movie Fiend, Music Aficionado, Generally Affable Guy. Follow me on twitter at

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  1. Greg says:

    Good prediction sir

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