THE UNION MIGHT have dodged a bullet, but only slightly.
On short rest following a 1-1 stalemate in Chicago on Wednesday, the club returns to Chester to host Houston tomorrow night at PPL Park (7:30, 6ABC).
However, the Dynamo will be without rookie forward Will Bruin, out 4-to-6 weeks with a partial meniscus tear in his left knee. Bruin opened the season on a tear (no pun intended) of his own, scoring a team-high four goals and an assist, a rookie team record for the amount of starts (20). Bruin suffered the injury last Saturday at home against Seattle.
Houston (6-7-9, 27 points) is still formidable, however, with the trio of Brian Ching, Cam Weaver, and Jason Garey. Additionally, Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear is still trying to sprinkle in newly acquired veteran Calen Carr, the former Chicago Fire forward still recovering from a concussion.
"We brought him here because we know what type of forward he is," Kinnear said. "He's one of those players that has good pace and can get behind the defense. We knew his condition before he came, but we also knew that he's the type of forward we can use. He's progressing, and, hopefully, his health can give us four forwards soon."
Conversely, the Union (8-5-8, 32 points) is still trying to keep pace with the loss of leading goal scorer Carlos Ruiz. In his case, pending league approval, Ruiz apparently will head to Mexican second-division club Veracruz, as the club is confident Ruiz, 31, is the missing link for returning "Los Tiburones Rojos" (Red Sharks) to the Mexican top flight.
On Wednesday, the Union went with Serbian forward Veljko Paunovic and Sebastien Le Toux up top. The decision paid dividends in the 34th minute, when Paunovic netted his second goal of the year, helping the Union escape Toyota Park with a point.
"I thought we did a good job of trying to lock it down," Union assistant John Hackworth said after the Chicago match. "We made a couple of adjustments ourselves and got off a great goal. We thought coming out at halftime the possession improved . . . Everyone was fighting really hard until the end and we were able to finish with a point on the road."
On the road, the Union is 3-4-4, but has a 5-1-4 home mark, which the Union will hope to improve against a club that like itself is trying to accentuate its positives.
Back pacing sidelines
Union boss Peter Nowak is expected to be on the sidelines tomorrow after being forced to watch the Union take on the Fire from his Chicago hotel room, while dealing with back spasms. According to a team source, the 47-year-old manager complained of lower back pain at the airport Tuesday. The pain worsened by the time the team arrived in Chi-town. Nowak visited a Chicago hospital, where he was told that he won't need major surgery on "issues with his sciatic nerve pain he felt in his knees." He was still limping slightly as of late yesterday afternoon, but told the source, "that it would take a lot" for him to miss tomorrow's match.
Odds and endlines
Union midfielder Kyle Nakazawa and UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar are scheduled to appear at Chickie's and Pete's Sports Bar in South Philly for a meet-and-greet with UFC and Union fans. Beginning at 3 p.m., the pair will also be handing out tickets to both UFC 133 at the Wells Fargo Center tomorrow night and an upcoming Union game. . . . Former Union defender Michael Orozco Fiscal was one of 22 players called up by newly minted U.S. men's national team coach Juergen Klinsmann ahead of next Wednesday's friendly at Lincoln Financial Field (8 p.m., ESPN2, Univision). Despite being with the Union early in training camp and even making the trip to Orlando for the team's first preseason match, Orozco's loan deal - which was worth $200,000 in guaranteed compensation - via Mexican club San Luis wasn't renewed. Nowak didn't elaborate on why the technical staff chose not to renew, but between the inclusion of Colombian defender Carlos Valdes and Orozco's U.S. callup, it can be assumed that money was the underlying factor.