Result after result makes for a "live and die" mentality admits Hackworth

How the momentum swing from three points changes everything

Sheanon celebration vs. Crew

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

In a marathon MLS season, momentum can change so quickly.

Take the Philadelphia Union, for example.

For a while, it looked as if the Union might be facing a two-game losing streak heading into a huge match against the ever-improving Portland Timbers Saturday night at PPL Park (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets)

The Union (8-6-6, 30 points) were trailing Chivas USA 1-0 for nearly 60 minutes in nasty conditions last Friday. But the Union rallied for three goals, got three coveted points and the confidence that goes along with it.

As a result, the Union erased a loss at Houston and began a crucial stretch at home with a victory.

It changed the demeanor of the players in training.

And it clearly changed their momentum in a positive way.

“It changes a lot,” manager John Hackworth said. It really … I can’t overstate the fact that you live and die, in your feeling at least, when you’re putting your head on the pillow at night and waking up in the morning from result to result. It’s tough when you feel like the previous three games we feel like we dropped some points. That’s why Chivas was so important to us. It was great for the guys to battle back the way they did. Regardless of what happened and the reasons why, I think in the end we were going to get that game. We were going to get a W. Full credit to the players that they handled that in the second half.”

No matter what would have happened Friday, the players would be preparing the same way for Portland.

But rallying for the three points certainly altered the momentum.

“Absolutely,” Hackworth said. “It doesn’t change the fact that we still think this is a really important game for us. But it does ease some of the pressure. It puts guys in a better frame of mind. Guys have smiles on their faces. We try to do that anyway no matter what happens. But you can tell the guys are a little more relaxed and a little more confident. That’s a tough situation … being down alone is tough to come back and win. When you have the weather the way it was, then some crazy stuff going on in the game by certain people, it’s difficult.”

Philadelphia is in the middle of a stretch in which it plays four of five at home. It started with that victory over Chivas USA and continues against Portland (8-2-9), which sits in second place in the Western Confidence.

Keeping that momentum going is the next challenge.

“We aim to win every game,” said defender Sheanon Williams. “Getting the three points against Chivas USA was big for us. The matches coming up are very tough and we need to keep getting points and taking care of business at home.”

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