Match Preview: Union vs. Toronto FC

Insight into Saturday's 4 p.m. match at PPL Park

 

Who: Philadelphia Union (2-2-1, MLS) vs. Toronto FC (1-2-2, MLS)

When: Saturday, April 13, 4:00 p.m.; Where: PPL Park, Chester; Tickets: Click here.

TV: 6abc featuring play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera; color analyst Alejandro Moreno; sideline reporter Heather Mitts

Online: Featured as MLS’ Stream of the Week. To watch free: http://soc.cr/jW2Gs

 

Toronto FC is anything but a pushover.

It defeated Sporting Kansas City and earned draws against FC Dallas and the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The Philadelphia Union (2-2-1) are fully aware of how improved Toronto FC (1-2-2) is in 2013. So Saturday’s match at PPL Park should be a battle.

“Toronto clearly is a much different team, credit to coach (Ryan) Nelsen and his staff, they brought in some new guys who have brought a lot to their team and changed the way they play,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “They are a difficult team to get a result against and they have proven that in the early stages of this season. I don’t think I would categorize them as a team that does anything that scares you tremendously but they are deceptively good at a lot of things and they take advantage of teams when they least expect it.”

No match is easy in Major League Soccer.

This one certainly won’t be for either side.

Watch: Hackworth, Hoppenot talk Toronto

Hackworth will almost certainly inform his club of Toronto FC’s prowess in advance of this early season matchup.

“Toronto is sneaky good,” Hackworth said. “If you think they are not good, they will punish you for it. I want to make sure we’re prepared for very good players -- players who can break you down one-on-one. They are organized and can lull you to sleep at times. I don’t think you can get overconfident against a team like that.”

The Union are 3-2-2 all-time against Toronto FC with a 2-0-1 mark at PPL Park.

If they’re hoping to extend that home unbeaten streak, they’ll have to play at an extremely high level for 90 minutes. The players understand.

Last week, they held a 1-0 lead for quite a while against the Columbus Crew but wound up settling for a 1-1 draw.

“They are a good team,” Union forward Antoine Hoppenot said. “It’s a completely different side from last year. We expect them to try to get forward and attack us. We’ll be ready for that. It should be a good game.”

Indeed.

And it’s a vital game for each club though it’s still early in the season.

“We’re close in the standings right now,” Hackworth said. “It’s a tale of two teams that weren’t considered in the mix last year. Here we both sit with Saturday being an important game for both of us.”

Fourth-year forward Jack McInerney leads the Union with three goals and he has accomplished that feat in the last five games. With another strong game from McInerney, the Union could garner three more huge points.

“Jack is playing well and he’s not just doing it with his offense,” Hackworth said. “His work rate, his ability to steal some balls, his ability in both New York and Columbus to move him to a wide midfield position when we had to, there is certainly a lot of trust and faith that he can play those minutes and play different roles. He’s getting the most chances and that’s what he does best. But he has to finish those chances.”

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