Three Questions with the Brotherly Game: Game Preview

Hunter Martin

I talked with the Brotherly Game's Justin as we both preview the game between the Montreal Impact and the Philadelphia Union. The battle for the MLS playoffs is still on and the Impact have not been lucky at PPL Park.

The Phialdelphia Union host the Montreal Impact with a spectre of fear of conceding 5 goals again. Having just lost 5-1 to the New England Revolution, Jack Hackworth and co. are confident of their chances but have enough respect and fear towards Les Bleus of Montreal.

We talk Philadelphia Union with Justin  of the Brotherly Game of taking some  time to talk Impact , Union and Designated Player.

1) We need to talk Justin. What is happening with Kleberson?
Is the Philadelphia Union cursed in its DP signings, in its short MLS history?

I wish I knew. The Union have an albeit aging midfielder who made 20 appearances with Manchester United, has won a World Cup, and yet, they feel the need to bench him in favor of someone who was only a trialist at Manchester United.

Both are in the past, but Kleberson is head and shoulders among the Union's best 11 players, and even when Daniel went down with an injury last week at New England, manager John Hackworth subbed on Michael Lahoud instead, leaving Kleberson on the bench for the full 90 in a game where they needed someone like him.

In Hackworth's weekly press conference, he had this to say about Kleberson: "Kleberson has done a good job in training, so I think he's ready for an opportunity.

But for him having not played a 90-minute game in so long, it's going to be difficult for him to come in." It's a completely moronic endless cycle that sees Kleberson bench-ridden for his entire tenure with the Union.

Unlike Adu, though, Kleberson is on loan to the Union from Bahia with an option to buy and the contract expires at the end of the season. It's a little different than the Adu signing and I would not say the Union are cursed, just they do not know how to manage their assets.

2). How would you rate the Philadelphia Union's midfield among its Eastern Conference foes?
Personally, I was never able to give them a specific tag but always found them dynamic.

I would rate the Philadelphia Union's midfield near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. It is by far the Union's most glaring weakness and it makes the benchings of Kleberson (and for that matter Roger Torres) all the more puzzling. It'd be one thing if Kleberson were being benched if the Carroll-Daniel-Farfan-Cruz-Le Toux midfield combos were dominating everything, but they are not.

It is a very poor midfield made even worse with two capable midfielders sitting on the bench. The Union's offensive dynamism comes from their strikers, early in the season Jack McInerney and more recently Conor Casey, while Le Toux leads the league in assists.

The poor midfield, and while he has racked up assists make no mistake about it Le Toux is not a natural midfielder, fails to link up with the strikers, thus leaving them little wiggle room to create.

3). PPL Park has not been kind to the Montreal Impact. Between the Impact winning by 5 goals and Philadelphia conceding 5, are both teams bound for an explosive matchup?
Is the Impact predictable enough for Jack Hackworth to shut down its stars?

The Impact may be predictable, but the Union will be without stud centerback Amobi Okugo, who is suspended on the account of yellow card accumulation, so predictability may not matter when it comes time to shutting down Marco di Vaio and co.

While the backline has been a strength of the Union this season, unfortunately they are not very deep at central defense outside of starters Parke and Okugo and have no obvious replacement for Okugo. Forward Aaron Wheeler has seen some time at centerback in friendlies, Michael Lahoud played some centerback at Chivas USA, Sheanon Williams could slide over to centerback and someone else could slot into right back, etc. It is a complete unknown.

As far as whether or not this game is explosive or a blowout will depend on how the Impact defense deals with the Union attack. Di Vaio and the Impact will score goals against a thrown-together-at-the-last-minute Union defense, the result of the game will depend on whether McInerney can break out of his slump and/or Casey can continue his hot streak.

Philadelphia Union predicted starting XI:

As I said with the injury to Okugo this could go a number of different ways, but because Hackworth loves sticking with His Guys and doing the incredibly dumb, I'll make this my guess: (4-4-2) Zac MacMath; Fabinho, Jeff Parke, Michael Lahoud, Sheanon Williams; Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan, Danny Cruz, Sebastien Le Toux; Conor Casey, Jack McInerney

Score prediction:

Impact win 3-1. Di Vaio is good and Okugo got himself suspended at the worst possible time.

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