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News and notes ahead of tomorrow's season opener

The injury report for the Union and Dynamo, plus news of some new Union signings and the reserve league schedule.

First of all, if you didn't pick up today's Inquirer and Daily News, go out and do so before it's too late. The Inquirer has launched a weekly soccer page that will run each Friday, and Kerith Gabriel has a season preview story in the Daily News.

Here are all the links:

Union have new look, a mainbar story by Marc Narducci

Mondragon will make a big difference in goal, a column by Marc Narducci

- Galaxy, Real Salt Lake favored to win an expanded MLS, a league preview by Marc Narducci

Game-changers will make immediate impact, a season preview by Kerith Gabriel

- New faces on Union roster, a package of biographical capsules by Kerith Gabriel

The Union posted its game notes last night. The injury report for them and Houston is as follows:

Questionable: D Juan Diego González Alzate (left hip flexor strain)
Probable: M Sebastien Le Toux (left ankle sprain)

Out: M Colin Clark (left knee), M Francisco Navas Cobo (right hamstring strain)
Doubtful: F Brian Ching (right hamstring strain)

The referee will be Abbey Okulaja, assisted by Chris Strickland and Adam Garner. Andrew Chapin will be the fourth official.

Now for the fun part: trying to project what the Union's starting lineup will be. Here's what was written in the game notes.

A lot of that makes sense, although I can't help thinking whoever did the writing for the Union got Williams and Harvey reversed.

The big question I have is whether Miglioranzi should be the starting right midfielder. That strikes me as creating a very defensive lineup. Houston is good, but I don't think they're so much better than the Union that so much defense is required.

Of course, the projected starting lineups are often a charade. We're as likely (and perhaps more likely) as not to see a different set of players come out of the tunnel at Robertson Stadium tomorrow.

Who do you think should play in that right midfield spot? Is the above lineup too defensive? Post your thoughts in the comments.

The Union made a couple of newsworthy announcements right before leaving for Houston. First, they announced three signings: Trinidadian midfielder Keon Daniel, SuperDraft pick forward Levi Houapeu, and midfielder Gabriel Farfan, the brother of Michael Farfan.

There is biographical information on all three players on the Union's website here.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Union announced that Brendan Burke, the coach of PDL affiliate Reading United, will manage the Union's Reserve League squad. The club also announced its 10-game Reserve League schedule.

This year marks the return of the reserve league after a three-year absence. The reserve league is divided into three divsions: East, Central and West. Since money was the main reason for the discontinuation of the reserve league back in 2008, having the divisional setup makes sense.

The reserve league is a good thing, and it's worth more attention than it's probably going to get here and elsewhere this season.

No one would disagree with either of those statements, of course. But the reserve league is one of those things that many people don't think of when they just watch first-team games. Having a reserve league gives real playing time to players at the lower end of a club's roster (and salary scale).

It also allows clubs to expand their roster sizes, and encourages the use of club youth academies as a player development structure. Promoting a player directly from a youth development structure to a first team doesn't always make sense, but having a reserve league gives those players a middle ground.

Here is the Union's reserve league schedule. It's not a coincidence that most of the reserve league matches are scheduled in close proximity to the first-team matches against that same team, and in that same city or region. For example, the April 10 Red Bulls-Union reserve league game is the day after the first-team game at PPL Park.

The Union's home reserve league matches will be played at either the Bob Urban Field of Dreams at Houston Park or Chester Park in Wallingford, Pa. Exact details for venues will be released at a later date.

Sunday, April 10: New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union, 10:00 a.m.
Monday, May 16: D.C. United at Philadelphia Union, 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 29: Philadelphia Union at Toronto FC, 10:00 a.m.

Sunday, July 3: Philadelphia Union at D.C. United, 10:00 a.m.
Monday, July 18: Philadelphia Union at New England Revolution, 10:00 a.m.
Monday, August 15: Philadelphia Union at New York Red Bulls, 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 21: Philadelphia Union at Columbus Crew, 10:00 a.m.

Monday, August 29: New England Revolution at Philadelphia Union, 10:00 a.m.
Sunday, September 18: Columbus Crew at Philadelphia Union, 10:00 a.m.
Sunday, October 16: Toronto FC at Philadelphia Union, 10:00 a.m.

Some teams allow the public to watch reserve league games. There was no specific mention of that in the Union's press release, but I'll post that information when I have it.