United-Union Preview

D.C. United went into a lengthy MLS layoff with plenty of

momentum.

Five games without a victory ultimately led to a coaching change

for the Philadelphia Union.

John Hackworth will make his coaching debut Saturday night as

the Union try to prevent United from winning four in a row for the

first time in nearly four years.

Philadelphia dismissed Peter Nowak, named the franchise’s first

coach in 2009, on Wednesday after he went 21-30-24 and led the team

to its first playoff appearance in 2011. The Union (2-7-2) are in

ninth place in the Eastern Conference with the second-fewest points

in the league.

Hackworth came to Philadelphia after two years as an assistant

with the U.S. national team under Bob Bradley.

“I’m not Peter Nowak. I’m John Hackworth and I’m going to do

things the way I have done it,” he said. “I believe in the players

we have. … You can’t change things overnight. We have a lot of

work to do. Saturday, we want to compete, put our best foot

forward.”

Hackworth takes over a club that is 0-4-1 in its last five,

falling 1-0 at Toronto in its last MLS game May 26. The Union have

been shut out four times and are tied for the fewest goals in the

league with eight.

This game will also feature the first MLS game in a Philadelphia

uniform for forward Jorge Perlaza, who was acquired from Portland

on June 6 for Danny Mwanga. Perlaza had six goals and two assists

in 41 appearances with the Timbers.

He scored in his Union debut Tuesday, a 3-2 loss to Harrisburg

in a friendly.

Turning things around won’t be easy, with Hackworth’s first game

coming against conference-leading United (8-4-3). However,

Philadelphia beat D.C. 3-2 in a physical match in the U.S. Open Cup

on June 5.

“I think the last game added onto that (rivalry),” defender

Brandon McDonald told D.C.’s official website. “What it’s going to

bring to the next match is what fans want to see. Grit and fight

and a battle.”

United have won three straight in MLS play for the first time

since a four-game run June 7-29, 2008, and lead the league with 28

goals. They defeated New England 3-2 on May 26 as substitute Maicon

Santos broke the tie in the 61st minute.

Santos leads the team with seven goals while Dwayne De Rosario

is second with five. De Rosario has scored three goals and

registered one of his league-leading eight assists over the last

three games.

De Rosario and forward Chris Pontius will be in the lineup

Saturday after missing the previous match against the Union –

Pontius due to an injury and De Rosario because of international

duty.

Their returns, along with several other players getting

healthier, could help United end their woes against Philadelphia.

Since entering MLS for the 2010 season, the Union are 3-1-1 in all

competitions versus D.C.