Not long after the dust settled on Saturday night’s monster win, Union defender Amobi Okugo took to Twitter to put everything in perspective:
— Amobi Okugo (@amobisays) October 6, 2013
It was a statement showing that while the euphoria stoppage time against Toronto FC in front of a sold out PPL Park brought, it’s a microcosm of the big picture.
And that is being one of five teams left standing in the Eastern Conference when the dust settles on the regular season in three weeks is the ultimate goal.
That job was made a bit more difficult with the loss of two key components in defender Sheanon Williams (yellow card accumulation) and Brazilian winger Fabinho, who was shown red after jostling for a ball with TFC’s Alvaro Rey.
However, judging by Union manager John Hackworth’s postgame comments on Saturday, it appears the latter loss of Fabinho won’t be definitive without a fight from the technical staff who plan to take his one to MLS’ high court – aka the league’s disciplinary committee for review.
“We are going to have to juggle some things [against D.C. United] because Sheanon’s got five yellow cards so he will be out. From what I hear, and I haven’t seen anything yet on video, but Fabinho might be appealable. But I do not want to say anything, I might get in trouble, but it is questionable about whether he actually steps on the guy or not, so maybe we could appeal that. That is a possibility to bring him back. Point is, when we look at the last five games, we knew that we had to get three points here tonight and we did.”
The coaches will have to wait until later this week to see what the committee decides in that case, but in the immediate the goal is to get ready for a battle against a United team that has struggled but doesn’t lack talent and determination – case proven from a recent win the final of the U.S. Open Cup, qualifying United for CONCACAF Champions League play next season.
The time to enjoy Saturday has come – and gone. Now it’s back to work.
“I think we need to enjoy it, first off,” said Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath. MacMath, who made four saves to post his 12th shutout of the season, felt that in a return to training Tuesday, D.C. United is now the focus. “Once we come back to work, on whatever day it is, we know that this game's over, and we have three more left, and a big one against D.C. They are our biggest rival. All of our games against D.C. are always tough, physical battles. Especially going into RFK, we have to be prepared mentally and physically.”
The Union will look for a clean sweep of United in league play this season, after picking up a 3-2 win in April at RFK Stadium and a 2-0 win at PPL Park in August. United did best the Union in Open Cup play earlier this summer making it the second consecutive year Philly has fallen to the eventual champions.
But a champion of a different kind is what the Union has aspirations of becoming in a push for the 2013 postseason. The club has embraced the underdog role – a role it’s had even against lesser opponents – and will look to this game like a playoff as pulling a result from D.C. United continues to close a narrow gap in a tight race to the finish.
So while nights like Saturday are sweet, it’s all about keeping things in perspective.
And how do you do that?
“You have to be calm, cool and when the game comes down to it, you just have to perform well.” said Brazilian midfielder Kleberson, the last minute hero against Toronto.
What are your thoughts on the Union’s recent run of play? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org