Match preview: Union venture to take on Real Salt Lake in midweek clash
Philadelphia Union at Real Salt Lake
When: Wednesday, 10 p.m., Where: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
TV: The Comcast Network with play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Alejandro Moreno
Radio: None; Online: Streaming video via MLS Live; Social: Follow via Twitter gameday feed @TheUMatchday
Referee(s): Ismail Elfath (main), Corey Rockwell, Jeremy Hanson, Kevin Terry Jr. (fourth)
Int'l duty: Union: Keon Daniel (TRI), Jack McInerney (USA); Real: Tony Beltran (USA); Kyle Beckerman (USA), Nick Rimando (USA), Alvaro Saborio (CRC)
Following a tough 2-2 draw against FC Dallas on Saturday, the Philadelphia Union didn’t have much time to reflect.
Not when another difficult match was looming just four days later.
The Union (7-5-5, 26 points) will face the hottest club in the league in Real Salt Lake Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Real Salt Lake has won six straight league matches and seven in a row across all competitions. In addition, RSL is unbeaten in its last 10 matches, outscoring opponents 25-7 and registering shutouts in three consecutive matches. Furthermore RSL (10-5-3, 33 points), which remains in first place in the Western Conference, will be without Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rican National Team) as well as defender Tony Beltran, captain Kyle Beckerman and goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Philadelphia will be playing without top scorer Jack McInerney (United States) and midfielder Keon Daniel (Trinidad & Tobago) both of who will represent their nations in upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“Every match from here on seems to be a huge match,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “Each club we play is missing guys and we’re going to be missing guys. I think we have to realize that we have players who anxious to play and contribute and so do they. Aaron (Wheeler) came on and did a great job. Real Salt Lake, I think, will have some top players out.
“They’ll have players coming in who are very, very talented. We have to gameplan just the same. Nothing really changes. We have to execute the same way, no matter who’s playing.”
It seemed as if the Union had a surefire three points against FC Dallas until Blas Perez scored the equalizer late in stoppage time. Instead of three points, the Union left with one.
Having another tough match so soon can be viewed in a positive way.
“I think we’ll be able to put the Dallas game out of the back of our minds,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We have so much to concentrate on.”
Like Real Salt Lake.
“I think they’re playing the best soccer in the league,” Hackworth said.
The Union have been playing terrific soccer as well. Even without some key pieces, there’s no reason to think it won’t continue on the road.
“I think we’ll be fine if we stick to what we do best and play as a team,” said McInerney. “I’ll be pulling for the guys while I’m away. I know we can do it and continue to play well. We have been improving every week and I like where we are. I know we can get better, which is exciting.”
It would be exciting to leave Rio Tinto Stadium with three points. This is one of the toughest places to play in MLS and the Union are fully aware of that fact.
“I think we’ve proven that we can play anywhere under any conditions like we did in a storm at Colorado and won,” Williams said, “For us, it’s about sticking to our gameplan. It’s another game on the schedule and while it’s a big game, we’ll go in with the same mindset of trying to leave with three points.”
Have a thought on how Wednesday's clash against Real Salt Lake will go? Leave a message in the comments below.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org