When it comes to stretch run for the postseason, Union using maturity to combat adversity

Team resolve going a long way in Union's fortunes this season

Celebration vs. DC United (2)

Photo Credit: 
Greg Carroccio

The first 24 matches have been a marathon.

Now, it’s down to a 10-match sprint.

Through the first 24 matches, the Philadelphia Union have continued to ascend to new levels of poise and maturity.

The youthful Union proved their mettle once again in a 2-0 victory over rival D.C. United Saturday night at PPL Park. Following a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire last Saturday, the Union went back to training and worked extremely hard.

That work paid off with a clean sheet against D.C. United.

With the win, the Union improved to 10-7-7 (37 points). Beyond the three points was this: the Union keep displaying resolve.

As the playoffs approach, this is all great news.

“I think and I’ve said this all year long that we have a group of players who believe in each other,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “They trust each other. I think the character you see out of our team after we have a negative result is we come back and have a positive one. We’ve done it all year long. I think our resolve that way has been excellent.”

A number of players said the intensity in training all week was at an all-time high.

The chippiness was channeled into a shutout victory.

“It’s just a sign of resolve and maturity as a team,” said centerback Amobi Okugo. “Last year, we might have put our head down and succumbed to a loss. This year, we’ve got a great locker room, great staff and we just know how to fight back, bounce back and show our maturity.

“In training, it was good. Some guys should have worn extra shin guards because that’s how crazy it was at practice. Once we step off the field, we’re good friends. Me and Jack (McInerney) got into it. A couple other guys got into it. Once you step off the field, it’s all good. We took that energy and put it to good use against D.C. United.”

First year defender Jeff Parke admitted he was upset by last week’s result.

With two difficult road games looming at New York and New England, the Union needed these three points.

They got it.

“Guys backed each other well and did a good job of backing each other, supporting each other and realizing the next game is where points were needed,” Parke said. “It’s getting to a point in the season where we need to get points. We have to make a push to get ourselves to the playoffs and set ourselves up so we’re in a nice position to go in and get a nice seed instead of a bottom seed. I think the guys have done a real nice job at this part of the season.”

Midfielder and captain Brian Carroll agreed.

“Guys are backing each other up and lifting each other up as a team,” he said. “It’s something we try and pride ourselves in. It shows we’re coming together as a group. It shows we believe in each other. It’s something we believe in trying to correct because we don’t want to go and give two away. It’s something we always try and focus on in bouncing back after a loss.”

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