Here are a few highlights from twitter following the Union's 3-0 win on Wednesday night
— Billy Nayden (@bnayden) June 4, 2015
— Adam Michael Gross (@GatorsNeverDie2) June 4, 2015
— Doctor Banner (@TheTimDevoe) June 4, 2015
Counter attacking at it's finest. This is just beautiful. pic.twitter.com/htTq16ZM5r
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) June 4, 2015
Everything you need to know from last night's game in one infographic. pic.twitter.com/vIzMbA100E
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) June 4, 2015
Today’s practice started out with some very good news for the Union. Just when they thought things couldn’t get any better after a dominating performance against Columbus Crew SC, goalkeeper Andre Blake was a participant in practice today.
For the work that he did in the goalkeeping drills, Blake looked sharp, showing good movement and dexterity on his knee. The spring is definitely back in his step, showing off how he is able to jump and cut without any issues.
The mood at practice today was lighthearted, joking around yet playing with the passion of a team that has won three out of four games and wants to win more.
Vince Nogueira and the rest of the starters had a light day today, participating in only the passing drills before doing some strength and conditioning work. Instead of joining the starters in the passing drills, Nogueira spent some extra time running and jogging around the field, looking to maintain the fitness he has showed in the past couple of games.
The passing and movement drills today deal with playing the long ball, with the added focus of staying onsides. When the starters left to go work on conditioning, the players who were on the bench and those coming back form injury did 4v5 drills, playing on a field that was a third of the size of a normal pitch.
Steven Vitoria fully participated in these drills, playing as the facilitator for both teams, and was not allowed to score.
The teams broke down like this:
Both teams played well and really got after the ball but the star was Lee, who showed off some of his shooting skills while playing from his traditional defensive position.
It's a double-game week for the Union, starting tonight at 7 p.m. against Columbus Crew SC at PPL Park. The game will be broadcast on The Comcast Network. It's also the third game in an eight-day stretch, leaving Jim Curtin with a few tough management selections. The good news is the team is relatively healthy, perhaps the most they've been since the season opener back on March 7.
|Andre Blake||OUT||Right knee menisectomy recovery|
|Mike Lahoud||OUT||Right quad strain|
|Antoine Hoppenot||QUESTIONABLE||Left hamstring strain|
|Conor Casey||QUESTIONABLE||Right quad strain|
|Steven Vitoria||QUESTIONABLE||Left knee strain|
With Blake out, the keepers will be Brian Sylvestre and John McCarthy again. Lahoud's injury, also not a surpise, will likely continue to be filled by Brian Carroll. Lahoud will miss a game against his a good friend and national teammate Kei Kamara. If you missed today's story about the two building a school back home in Sierra Leone, check it out here.
Three questionables for tonight include Steven Vitoria. The center back last played April 25, the last time the Union played Crew SC. Vitoria has a shot to be in the 18 tonight, but all signs are pointing to another CB pairing of Maurice Edu and Richie Marquez.
For Columbus, they have three questionables in Wil Trapp, Chris Klute and backup keeper Matt Lampson. Trapp has been going through concussion symptoms and hasn't played since April 8, but has been back in training for roughly the last week-and-a-half.
The bigger news is Crew SC will be without center back Michael Parkhurst, who is suspended for one-game following a red card in Crew SC's prior game against Orlando City. He's started all 12 games this year and will likley be replaced by Tyson Wahl, alongside Emanuel Pogatetz.
In today's press conference, team captain Maurice Edu spoke about the teams performance in the last game and thier focus moving forward. Here are some highlights from what he said:
On the team’s latest run of form
I think we’re starting to click at the right time. We had a difficult start in terms of results early on, but in saying that I wouldn’t say that we were playing terribly. I still think that we had a handful of games that we played pretty well at the start of the season, but we didn’t put together complete performances. We played well in those games, and ultimately in glimpses we came up short. So in the last three games, even in the DC game where we lost, we were proud of our performance. We felt that we put together a good performance over the course of the ninety minutes and in a couple small details we lost that game. But if we go out there and perform like that in the next couple games, we’re confident that we can get the results we want.
On the team’s momentum carrying over from their run of results
I think that the last few games have been a continuation of hard work. We’ve trained well and come into these games very confident, which I think has showed. We’re obviously disappointed not to win that game after going up early, and we thought we could have been up a couple of goals after that first half. From that standpoint we’re obviously disappointed but if you go back and watch the film, you can see that we still played well. We still created a lot of good chances, and defensively I thought we were pretty solid as a group. And again, we’re confident that if we play like that, we’ll get the run of results that we need.
After Edu spoke, head coach Jim Curtin jumped on the podium for his weekly presser. Here are a few of his highlights:
On the team’s reaction to the last loss against Columbus
Yeah, if you look at the season as a whole, the Columbus and Vancouver games were where we got outplayed and beat soundly. Columbus has a way of playing that when they get on you early and dictate the rhythm of the tempo of the game, they’re as good as anyone. They’ve had some unfortunate calls go against them with the red card and penalty against Michael Parkhurst that early in the game against Orlando, and to go on and still get that 2-2 result was impressive. They’ve had a little bit of an unlucky run lately but they’re a good team, a team we respect a great deal, and when they’re clicking on all cylinders they’re a handful. We’re fortunate to get them without Michael Parkhurst who I think is really an underappreciated center back in the league, not just for his defending but for his ability to possess and start their attack as one of the best passers in the league. So for them to be missing him is an advantage for us.
On the positives to take out of the loss against DC
Yeah, the guys are confident now, that is for sure. There’s a belief in the group and we’re healthy, at least as healthy as we’ve been. There’s some continuity in practice each week which goes a long way. I think the guys have worked hard and we’ve gotten a lot of good performances out of some veterans. I think that Brian Carroll’s quietly done a great job in stabilizing midfield. Vincent Nogueira’s back in the mix with Chaco and you guys have written about how important it is to have them both on the field at the same time. You sprinkle in some other guys having good performances and there’s a belief in the group. We know we’re not anywhere near where we want to be in the standings but at the same time we’ve looked like what we can show in the last three games. We can be a team that can play with anybody in the league and that’s the way we’re taking it. Now we have some games at home, 4 out of 5 in June and we need to go on a run if we want to put ourselves back in the playoff picture.
Today’s practice was even colder and windier than yesterday, with temperatures on the field around 55 degrees. The conditions on the field were also lees than optimal as the grass has become waterlogged due to the heavy from the past two days. Players struggled to find their footing at first, slipping whenever they tried to make sharp cuts, but they managed to work past it after the first few minutes.
Curtin had the players practicing with passing the ball in triangles, working on the one touch passing that is so important in the pro game. The triangle passing was done at full speed, eventually integrating through balls for an added flourish.
During the drill, Curtin walked in and around the players, sometimes intentionally getting in the way, coaching patience and the importance of timing. Timing is key for the team as a majority of their offensive play comes off of counterattacks, using the through ball to deadly effect.
Andre Blake and Steven Vitoria were doing strength training during this time, working on overcoming their individual injuries. Vitoria was healthy enough to actually get some play in practice, participating in the transition possession drill and the 11-on-11 drills.
The transition possession drill had an added element of difficulty as the teams of seven players had to pass around the high press, completing 20 passes between them before they could pass it to the other end of the field.
Practice today took place in less than optimal conditions, as the weather flipped between light rain and wind.
In preparation for a busy week, with a game on Wednesday and a game on Saturday, the team had a light practice, with many of the starters getting in some light cardio and passing before getting out early.
The rest of the players, those who are coming back from injury/were on the bench on Saturday, trained with players from Reading United and the academy teams who were brought up for the day.
The Union were buoyed by the fact that Steven Vitoria returned to training for the first time in three weeks, hopefully giving a boost of strength to a backline that hasn’t been fully healthy since the beginning of the season.
In terms of what occurred during practice, players participated in multiple passing and possession drills with an eye on trying to play in the counterattack. C.J. Sapong looked like a man possessed, working tirelessly both on and off the ball.
At the end of practice, each of the Reading and academy players attached themselves to a player, peppering them with questions and seeking advice about playing professionally in the MLS.
Eiður Guðjohnsen is still practicing with the Union, preparing to leave for Iceland later this week when they play in their Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Will Campbell (Committed to the University of North Carolina)
Sebastian Elney (Committed to the University of Maryland)
Kyle Morton (GK)
Philadelphia Union and D.C. United have met 13 prior times with both clubs winning five matches. Saturday's match will be the second between the two clubs this year. The Union won the first match 1-0, at PPL Park just two weeks ago thanks to a stoppage-time winner from Zach Pfeffer.
But here is today's starting lineup with career stats listed in parenthesis. It is Andrew Wenger's 50th career start in MLS.
Bench: John McCarthy, Raymon Gaddis, Ethan White, Fred, Zach Pfeffer, Eric Ayuk, C.J. Sapong.
Career stats vs. D.C.
All 20 MLS teams are playing again this weekend. Here is the schedule for this weekend's games:
Friday May 29th
Sporting Kansas City vs. FC Dallas, 9:00 p.m.
Saturday May 30th
Toronto FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, 5:00 p.m.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Real Salt Lake, 6:00 p.m.
D.C. United vs. Philadelphia Union, 7:00 p.m.
New York City F.C. vs. Houston Dynamo, 7:00 p.m.
Orlando City SC vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.
Chicago Fire vs. Montreal Impact, 8:30 p.m.
Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers 9 p.m.
Sunday May 31st
Seattle Sounders vs. New York Red Bulls, 5:00 p.m.
New England Revolution vs. LA Galaxy, 7:00 p.m.
Here are some quick notes about each game:
Sporting Kansas City (4-2-6) vs. FC Dallas (6-3-3)
Sporting KC look to continue their good run of games after managing to play Seattle to a 0-0 draw on Saturday. The entire team has been solid lately, with three players making the MLS Team of the Week for Week 12. FC Dallas have also been playing well even though they are coming off a tough loss to Montreal. They are currently in the middle of a five game road trip over 42 days, the longest such trip without a home game in franchise history.
Toronto FC (4-5-1) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (5-4-3)
San Jose is coming off a hard fought draw in primetime on Sunday against an in-form Orlando City team. Chris Wondolowski continued to put the ball into the back of the net, scoring his team’s only goal and his 100th goal in his MLS career, making him only the ninth player ever to do so. For Toronto this is their second home game in a row, winning last week against the Portland Timbers. Without injured forward Jozy Altidore the past two weeks, their other designated players, Michael Bradley and Sebastian Giovinco, have stepped up and scored the goals for the team.
Vancouver Whitecaps (6-5-2) vs. Real Salt Lake (4-4-5)
With six wins through 13 games, the Whitecaps are off to a great start, and are currently sitting in third in the Western Conference, one point behind FC Dallas. They are coming off a 1-0 loss against the best defensive team in the MLS, the Colorado Rapids. Real Salt Lake is coming off a 2-0 home win against NYCFC, a game where midfielder John Stertzer scored his first MLS goal and goalkeeper Nick Rimando kept another clean sheet.
New York City FC (1-7-4) vs. Houston Dynamo (4-5-4)
Though New York City are coming off a loss to Real Salt Lake, it is only their twelfth game as a franchise and are still trying to move pieces around. With players like Mix Diskerud, David Villa, and soon-to-be-joining Frank Lampard, the club can only improve. Houston are coming off a late loss to an LA Galaxy team that used Robbie Keane as a sub in the second half. The Dynamo have been tough on the defensive end lately, only conceding one goal in each of their last four games.
Orlando City SC (3-5-4) vs. Columbus Crew (4-4-3)
Orlando City are coming off a gutsy draw against San Jose, playing with only 10 men for a majority of the second half. Kaka seems to be rounding into form at just the right time, scoring in consecutive games for the first time this season. The Crew arrive in Orlando on the heels of a 2-2 draw against Chicago. Kei Kamara had a first half brace, the third time he has scored a brace this season.
Chicago Fire (3-5-2) vs. Montreal Impact (2-3-2)
Chicago comes into the game off of a strong performance against the Crew. Down 2-0, they managed to fight back to get the draw as Jason Johnson headed in a goal in the dying embers of stoppage time. Montreal is also coming off a good performance, a 2-1 home win against FC Dallas. Ignacio Piatti and Jack McInerney both scored their second goals of the season to secure three points for the Impact.
Colorado Rapids (2-3-7) vs. Portland Timbers (4-5-4)
The Rapids are one of the toughest teams to play against in the MLS despite not having a stellar record. They have only allowed 10 goals in 12 games and are coming off an away loss to Seattle, the best team in the Western Conference. The Timbers are a team that has put together a nice string of games, including a 1-0 against a very good D.C. United team on Wednesday night. With rising star Darlington Nagbe, they are a dangerous team when in possession of the ball.
Seattle Sounders (7-3-2) vs. New York Red Bulls (4-2-5)
The match-up between the Sounders and the Red Bulls have a lot of soccer fans salivating, as both teams are strong offensively. The Sounders have the best record in the MLS and have also scored the most goals with 18, while only conceding nine. The Red Bulls are coming off a loss to the Union and look to get their high pressure game back on track in Seattle.
New England Revolution (5-3-5) vs. LA Galaxy (5-4-5)
In another game where it’s East vs. West, the Galaxy visit the Revolution, four days after coming off a 1-0 win against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday. Robbie Keane looks to be healthy again as the team preps for the arrival of Steven Gerrard. New England are coming off a 1-1 draw with D.C. United last Saturday. The game saw them go down to nine men with Chris Tierney and Lee Nguyen both being sent off early in the second half, meaning both players will be suspended for the game on Sunday.