Greg Carroccio

Match preview: Toronto FC next on the docket as push for the postseason continues for Union

Toronto FC (9-9-6, 33 points) at Philadelphia Union (7-9-9, 30 points)

What: Major League Soccer regular season match

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m., ET (kickoff 7:08 p.m.); Where: PPL Park, Chester, Pa.; Tickets: purchase tickets

TV: Comcast SportsNet featuring play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas

Radio: None; Online: Streaming video via MLS Live; Social: Follow the action via Twitter: @TheUMatchday

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There are nine league matches remaining.

Every single one is huge.

Especially the next two against Toronto FC – Wednesday night at PPL Park (7 p.m., purchase tickets) and Saturday afternoon at BMO Field (2 p.m., The Comcast Network). 

It’s a rare home-and-home set of matches against the same club for the Philadelphia Union.

Toronto FC (9-9-6, 33 points) is tied with New England and Columbus in the Eastern Conference standings. The Union (7-9-9, 30 points) are three points back.

Do the math.

The next two matches could play a large role in the chase for the postseason.

“It’s huge,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin told philadelphiaunion.com. “The fortunate thing is they (played last) Saturday against New England, so you hope they beat each other up. You don’t know how Toronto’s going to handle it all. Are they going to bank on being at home? Take it and put everything into the home game and rest a few guys here and be ready there. Either way, we’ll be prepared for them. We have the rest and advantage and we have the homefield advantage in the Wednesday game.

“We can dictate things. That’s a playoff type game with them. We’re right around the same spot and having it in our homefield, we’ll have to get a win. Then you can go to their place and play with house money. It starts with our home match and we know we have to take care of business at home.”

Toronto FC is not an easy club to prepare for. They can be frustrating with their style.

The Union must battle through that.

“We’ve seen it before against Toronto and we know what to expect,” said Union forward Sebastien Le Toux. “They’re a difficult team to play and make it tough on you. It’s a matter of us staying together and playing our game. We can’t let them play their game. We’ve been in good form and we need to keep it together. We’re a very confident club and we’ve been playing well. We had a bit of time off and now we need to get back and get focused on this match. It’s one at a time. We have a big month with a back-to-back here against Toronto and the (U.S.) Open Cup (final) against Seattle.

“There are other big matches also. For us, we just have to focus on this one match against Toronto. That has worked well for us.”

The Union’s last league match resulted in a 4-2 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. It was the debut of goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi.

Down the stretch, the Union will be looking to take advantage of Mbolhi’s World Cup and international experience in the drive for the second playoff berth in club history.

With Mbolhi called up for international duty, look for Zac MacMath to step in.

“It was all positive,” Curtin said of Mbolhi’s debut. “He was confident in goal, very explosive. The goals he gave up were world-class goals. Tough one in that regard and we could have done a few things to prevent shots. I was very happy with his performance. He’s a special goalkeeper and he’ll go away with Algeria for a couple games. I’m sure he’ll come back in very good form.”

What are your thoughts on this midweek matchup? Leave a comment below.

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com