Match preview: Getting back to winning ways, starting with Chivas USA

Union hope win over Goats springboards strong run (7:30 p.m.)

Chivas USA at Philadelphia Union

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Where: PPL Park, Chester; Tickets: Click here

TV: The Comcast Network with Union play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Alejandro Moreno

Radio: None: Online: Streaming webcast via MLS Live; Social: Follow action on Twitter @TheUMatchday

Referee(s): Jorge Gonzalez (main), Brian Dunn, Matthew Nelson, Mark Kadlecik (fourth)

International duty: Union: Keon Daniel (T&T), Jack McInerney (USA); Chivas: Steven Purdy (ESV)

All-time (five meetings): Union: three wins (nine goals); Chivas USA: zero wins (four goals); Ties: 2

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Beginning Friday against Chivas USA, the Philadelphia Union will play four of their next five matches in the friendly confines of PPL Park.

After some grueling stretches, the Union will have an opportunity to take advantage of this five-game stretch.

It starts against Chivas USA (3-10-5, 14 points), the worst team in the Western Conference.

Manager John Hackworth has coached long enough to understand that records don’t matter.

Not only has Chivas USA played much better recently, but defender Carlos Bocanegra is close to making his debut.

“It’s a dangerous one (attack) because Chivas under coach (Jose Luis) Real has done a fantastic job kind of restructuring that group,” Hackworth said. “I’m really impressed by how they’ve played the first two road games of this trip, getting a draw at Dallas and a draw at Montreal. Two big results for them. Their organization has improved dramatically, so we know it’s going to be difficult, and it’s a different kind of situation facing a team like that versus the last four games we’ve had.”

How about preparing for Bocanegra?

“Only from the fact that we know Carlos really well,” Hackworth said “(Assistant coach) Jim (Curtin) played with him, and I coached him. He’s a fantastic player. It certainly makes them a lot better. He will bring instant leadership to that club and do a great job organizing the backline. My expectation is that he will play, and that just makes it that much harder for us to break them down. Carlos, I think, is coming back to the league at a point where he’s still really in a very good point as an individual. I know how he takes care of himself and the way he prepares for things, so I expect him to be in good form.”

The Union (7-6-6, 27 points) enter this match in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

While this looks like a surefire three points, nothing is guaranteed in this league. Points are earned. They will be difficult to get against this new-look Chivas USA side.

“I think we have a good idea, but there’s not as much work to kind of look at,” Hackworth said. “You’ve got to kind of throw out everything they did up until when Coach Real came in because they’ve changed so much. They’re clearly a much more defensive team. Their line has dropped dramatically. They’re keeping a lot of numbers behind the ball. They’re being patient. They’re really keying off of being a team that is organized and doing their individual jobs and trying to do it collectively as well. Again, we’ll look at all of the games under Coach Real, and obviously it’s a big difference from before.”

One storyline to look at will be Farfan vs. Farfan – Chivas USA’s Gabriel Farfan vs. the Union’s Michael Farfan. Gabriel was traded by Philadelphia earlier this season.

No matter what happens there, the overall goal for the Union is the same as always – to pick up three huge points.

We have a big homestand coming up soon and we need to take advantage of it,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “We need to compile as many points as possible, especially when we’re home. We don’t want to give away points there. To get those points, we have to attack, play aggressive and smart like we know we can.”

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