Union to Use Celtic Win as Stepping Stone

Club hopes to carry momentum of friendly win into Toronto match

While Wednesday’s impressive win over Celtic was quite an
achievement for the expansion Philadelphia Union, the impact of the feat
won’t fully be realized until the club takes to the pitch again this Saturday
against Toronto.

Earning a victory against a heavily favored international
side, even one just starting their preseason, may very well provide an
invaluable lift, especially after a difficult loss to San Jose last Saturday.
As the expression goes, however, the proof is in the pudding. Luckily for Philadelphia,
dessert is about to be served.

Prior to Saturday’s rematch against Toronto, manager
Peter Nowak’s crew can feel good about their accomplishment and the way they went
about earning it.

“I think that the first half
was very promising from an offensive standpoint,” Nowak said following the 1-0
win. “There were lapses and situations where we could have performed better,
but I think we put some good things together.

“In the second half, (we) showed some of our guys’ inexperience. You could see
their excitement, nervousness, whatever. But that gets better with experience
and I think the experience like tonight where you have a big name like Celtic
prepares you moving forward.”

The Union will need to be prepared against the Reds, as the
visitors currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference. To a man,
Philadelphia players seem to be in better spirits than they were before topping
Celtic at PPL Park.

“It’s good because it gives us confidence to play,” said
midfielder Fred. “Celtic is a big team in the world. This is nice for
everybody. This is like training, but you have to do everything (we did in the
Celtic match) against Toronto.”

The Union may have lost against San Jose, but they played
well enough to take all three points and arguably as well in the run of play as they did in a 3-1
win over Seattle in the PPL Park opener. Their strong form continued on
Wednesday against Celtic to the satisfaction of captain Danny Califf.

“Absolutely I’m proud of our guys,” said Califf. “We played
without fear and with confidence. They’re a good team but tonight we were a
better team. They’re just starting preseason so it’s understandable (that they
weren’t in top form), but I was proud of our guys, proud of our effort, and you
can’t take anything away from that.”

“It was an even player against an even player,” added
forward Sebastien Le Toux, who scored the match’s only goal. “(Celtic) may say
they were tired, but we were maybe a little bit tired too because we played on
Saturday. All of us played tonight and we scored a goal against them. They had
some opportunities, but we stayed strong and everyone did a great job.

“Even if they were tired or not playing all their best
players, a lot of people speak and may say Celtic is a much better team than Philadelphia
and we saw tonight that, even if it was a sub team, they didn’t beat us and it’s good for our confidence. We have to continue (to play) this way.”

It’s not like the Union fielded their starters for the full
90 minutes, with only the club’s four starting defenders staying on the field
after the break. Regardless, the Celtic match was the perfect way for the club
to put the loss against the Earthquakes behind them. Doing so can only help against
Toronto, a match that Philadelphia will be eager to walk away from with maximum
points.

“It
was important to forget about what happened Saturday," said Le Toux. "For myself, I missed some
opportunities to score in the second half (against San Jose) and I really
wanted to find the net today. It was good but we have to continue and get ready
for Toronto. They are a good team. We have to play the same way (we did against
Celtic). I think we are going to be prepared for Saturday and try to win for
our fans.”