Union Come Home, This Time to Stay
They all knew the schedule would turn back around in their favor.
The time is now. And the timing is perfect.
After playing nine of their first 12 league matches on the road, Philadelphia
will benefit from four consecutive home games at PPL Park, beginning with
Saturday’s 6:00 p.m. tilt against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Instead of living out of a suitcase and playing in front of hostile crowds, the
elements will now favor the Union.
They got a nice preview of how beneficial PPL Park can be with a 3-1 win over
Seattle Sounders FC on June 27. The crowd was loud and got louder as the game went on.
Ah, home, sweet home.
“I think we’re going to have one of the best, if not the best, homefield
advantages in MLS,” said defender Danny Califf. “The fans never stopped
chanting. They arrived early and stayed late. It’s the type of crowd any player
would love to play in front of. We feel very fortunate.”
The Union have played three home games, going 2-0-1. The first two home games
included a win over D.C. United and a tie against FC Dallas at Lincoln
PPL Park is the destination from here on out.
“It’s going to be very exciting with all the home games coming up,” said rookie
Danny Mwanga, who is second on the club with five goals scored. “Hopefully, we
can keep earning points at home. It’s good to be at home because the fans have
been very supportive. It’s very exciting.”
Building a homefield advantage is vital to any club’s success. While it doesn’t
guarantee a victory, it sure does help.
“Yeah, it is nice to be back home,” said coach John Hackworth. “We hope this is
just the beginning. Nothing really has changed. Hopefully, we can start being
more consistent. I think you can get a little more motivation knowing that No.
1 you’re improving and No. 2 you have the fans on your side. Playing at home at
PPL through much of the month of July is a tremendous asset.”
Midfielder Shea Salinas will especially revel in playing at PPL Park against
San Jose, the club that left him unprotected after last season.
“It is very exciting to be playing at home,” Salinas said. “All of us are
looking forward to playing at home and yeah, I do have a little extra incentive
in this game.”
Picking up three points is crucial in every game. If the Union can build some momentum and string together some wins at home,
they’ll suddenly launch themselves into the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“In this league, you have to take it one game at a time, but you can really
make up ground with home wins,” said midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi. “At the
same time, knowing you have the backing of the home crowd really helps. You
feel it. Our fans in Philadelphia are amazing. I think if we execute, we have
the ability to be really, really good.”
The next step begins against the Earthquakes. Let the excitement at PPL Park