YOUNGER UNION PLAYERS TOLD TO KEEP FOCUS

YOUNGER UNION PLAYERS TOLD TO KEEP FOCUS
PHILADELPHIA — With a team comprised of seven rookies and a host of first-year starters, the Philadelphia Union expected there would be some growing pains this season.

Off to somewhat disheartening 1-3-0 record, the team’s troubles were brought to the forefront in their U.S. Open Cup play-in match against the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday. A very young starting line-up was eventually altered to bring in the more experienced veterans to try to salvage the match, which eventually ended 2-1 in New York’s favor.

One of those team leaders who came into the match, Alejandro Moreno, stressed that despite their shaky performance the team’s younger players need to focus on what’s ahead.

“It’s a long season, it’s definitely not a sprint,” Moreno said after training on Wednesday. “We’re doing some good things on the field. We’ve lacked consistency over the course of the 90 minutes. We have made some decisions on the field that have perhaps affected the outcome of games. If we are to get results on a consistent basis, our play has to be consistent throughout 90 minutes.”

The key for Moreno was that the mental state of the team seems to dip at times during games and those lapses lead to mistakes, on which the opposition has capitalized more than once this season. To be successful, the Venezuelan insists, this trend needs to be halted.

“Where we don’t turn off and tune off in key moments of the game and allow goals where perhaps it affects the rhythm and the way we’ve been playing,” said Moreno. “Look at a few of the games we’ve lost and it seems that we are carrying the game and all of a sudden we take a goal and that takes something out of the team.

“We cannot turn off in key moments of the game and we cannot allow silly goals in silly moments. And we have to make sure that when we have our opportunities and our chances that we take advantage of those. It’s all very basic and it may seem obvious, but it’s something that needs to be reminded.”

The "switching off," as Moreno puts it, has been evident at points this season in each of the team’s losses, and even their lone win against D.C. United. Following the team’s loss in the USOC, Coach John Hackworth wondered publically why things went the way they did.

“The question that we have is that in a game when we’re playing an opponent, why don’t you bring your best?” Hackworth said. “Is that an inexperience factor? Is it that they’re uncomfortable without the senior leadership on the field? We’ve reset the bar this morning and we believe in them and know how good they’re capable of playing and that when they get that chance to play again, they better be ready for it.”

There isn’t much time to get "ready for it" following Tuesday’s loss. The team face the league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday night. The intention is to turn in a much more seasoned performance--rookies included.