Cutting down the Crew

Win was nice, but Union have another tough task in Columbus

Last Sunday, the Philadelphia Union finished what they started.

The result was a three-goal outburst in a stirring 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo at PPL Park. It snapped an eight match winless stretch since a 2-1 win over the New England Revolution on July 29.

Philadelphia’s young side also proved it could put together a complete match while playing sharp in the final third of the field.

The Union had three goals in a match for the first time since July 8 in a 3-0 shutout of Toronto FC.

Now comes the hard part – repeating the offensive feat on the road Saturday night at Columbus (13-11-6, 45 points).

Watch: Columbus preview

Keep in mind that the Union (8-14-6, 30 points) have only scored two goals once on the road all season and that was in an impressive 2-1 win at the Los Angeles Galaxy on July 4. And the Crew remain just one point out of the fifth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Can the Union carry their last offensive performance into a tough environment on the road? Can it catapult the club in general?

“I think so, but I’ve said it so many times when I was on the other end, when we weren’t getting the W, that I really thought our performance was good,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We put together a performance [Sunday] in a very tough situation and hopefully we can carry that forward. We have a pretty good team, and the results just haven’t been going our way.”

In their last five road games, the Union have managed a total of two goals. Winning is tough enough in Major League Soccer.

But winning on the road is even more daunting.

If the Union can execute like they did against Houston, it could go a long way in terms of confidence and possibly even hold over to next season.

“We’ve been training hard every single day and we believe in ourselves,” defender Sheanon Williams recently told philadelphiaunion.com. “We come to work every day ready to train and we feel like we’re well prepared. Breaks, for the most part, haven’t been going our way. I think if we can get a number of results between now and the end of the season, it will have a lasting effect.”

For nearly two months, the Union were waiting for a result like the one against the Dynamo.

Even though they reveled in the three points, it will mean more if the sharp play is carried over into Crew Stadium.

“The results are what everybody looks at, the fans, and everyone in the organization expects,” Hackworth said. “It’s nice to see that we put a lot together and they did it against an excellent team like Houston.”

The Union will face another excellent team in Columbus. If the Union can finish what they start on Saturday, that will be worth celebrating for sure.

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