Union Look to Stay Undefeated at PPL Park

Expansion club could climb up to 5th in the East with a win

The Philadelphia Union begin a four match home stand when
they host the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday at PPL Park. The Union enter
Saturday’s match with confidence, despite being in sixth place in the Eastern
Conference. Although the Union have just 11 points and an overall record of
3-7-2, they are one of four teams that are unbeaten at home and are looking to add
to their unbeaten streak as they make a playoff push in the second half of the
season. San Jose is currently in fifth place in the Western Conference with 19
points coming from a 5-4-4 record, but they are winless in their last five
league matches (0-2-3).

For any young team, especially an expansion team, confidence
is a major determinant of triumph or failure. The Union have been on both sides
of this critical barrier so far this season. Early in the season, it was clear
that the inexperienced side lacked the confidence they possess today, largely due
to playing nine of their first twelve games on the road. However, the Union
appear to be full of confidence and hitting their stride coming off a
come-from-behind home win against the Seattle Sounders and a road tie against
Chivas USA in their last two games.

The Union will look to take their confidence into their next
four home games and climb the ladder in the Eastern Conference. The first step
in making a run at the playoffs is defeating a solid San Jose team. The Union
are hoping to extend their unbeaten streak to three games, but they will not be
satisfied with a tie at home

While the Union appear ready to break away from their early
season struggles, San Jose has had struggles of their own recently. The team
has not won a game since beating the Seattle Sounders on May 22. Despite recent
results, the Quakes have plenty of firepower offensively to put the pressure on
the Union defense. Leading the attack for San Jose are forwards Chris
Wondolowski and Ryan Johnson, and midfielder Bobby Convey, who hails from
Philaelphia. Wondolowski ranks fifth in MLS with six goals, and
Philadelphia-native Bobby Convey is second in MLS with seven assists. 2010 third
overall pick Ike Opara has also added three goals out of the back for the
Earthquakes.

If Philadelphia can lock down Wondolowski and Convey in the
run of play and Opara on set pieces, San Jose will struggle to produce many
quality scoring opportunities. Offensively, the Union have the skill to break
down the San Jose defense. Many of the goals scored by the Union this season
have been the result of quality combinations and flank play. If the Union
continue to move the ball around quickly and get good service from the wings,
attacking threats Danny Mwanga and Sebastian Le Toux will have good
opportunities to add more goals to their season totals.

If the Union play well at home, as they have in their
previous three home games, they should be able to break down San Jose’s defense
and get their second win in as many games at PPL Park.