Match preview: Taking a break on a high note main game plan for Union against Vancouver

Union eager for two wins in row against Whitecaps (7 p.m., TCN)

 

Vancouver Whitecaps at Philadelphia Union

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.; Where: PPL Park, Chester, Pa.

TV: The Comcast Network featuring play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas

(Note: Channel 580 is the full HD stream for Verizon FiOS customers)

Radio: None; Online: Streaming video via MLS Live; Social: Follow the action via Twitter: @TheUMatchday

Game notes (PDF): Click here

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The Philadelphia Union will be looking to stretch their winning streak when Vancouver Whitecaps FC visit PPL Park Saturday night.

It won’t be an easy task.

After completing their road trip with a 3-0 victory at Chivas USA last Saturday, the Union returned home and began preparing for a talented Vancouver side. It will be the Union’s final league match before the planned FIFA World Cup break.

Philadelphia will have a U.S. Open Cup match looming against the Harrisburg City Islanders.

But all of the Union’s focus is on the Whitecaps (5-2-5, 20 points; fourth place in Western Conference), one of the most improved clubs in Major League Soccer.

“I see a team that is firing on all cylinders right now and in particular they have (Pedro) Morales who has been a really good playmaker for them,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “And they have a lot of speed in many different positions, so you take a guy that provides you that penetrating pass and pull the strings in the midfield within a very fast and athletic group of players that work hard in front of him, yeah , it’s going to be a challenge and  the games we have seen from them previously they have been a handful. So, big challenge for our back line this Saturday we’ll have to do a good job trying to containing them all night as much as possible.”

Philadelphia enters this match at 3-7-5 (14 points), and a fourth win before the World Cup hiatus would be huge.

The Union came up big with a clean sheet against Chivas USA with Conor Casey scoring a pair of goals and Cristian Maidana adding a goal. The goal now is to build from that win and carry it into this match against the Whitecaps.

“Well I think that there were a number of things that were good in that game,” Hackworth said. “I think the best thing was that we had a really tough result that we were shooting for and probably one of the tougher weeks leading up to that Chivas game just in terms of that we had to ask ourselves a lot of very tough questions and there was a lot of challenges thrown down because it was a must-win situation for us. Chivas is a team that is having similar struggles to us this year and we felt that even being on the road it was really important that we go out there and put a complete performance together and I think we got that.

“But that’s just one so were trying to put that behind us for sure and focus on Vancouver and what that game means to this club because we feel like if we can string together two victories that would put ourselves back in a place where we wall want to be.”

The players are fully aware of how difficult it will be to defeat Vancouver. They know what’s at stake.

“I think we’re playing a different Vancouver team than I have ever played against in the past,” forward Andrew Wenger said. “Offensively, they’ve turned over a bunch of players, they don’t have Kenny Miller there anymore who was really the focal point of their attack, but they have a lot of young quick guys, Morales is very good so we just have to be sharp. I think what’s especially important for us is getting through the early seconds of the game.”

The Union have struggled at times at PPL Park this season and it will be vital to strike early to take advantage of the homefield advantage.

“I think that it’s important in the early stanzas of the game to put a good foot forward and get the fans behind us,” Wenger said. “I think in the past the fans have been a large part of our success here at home, or what I’ve seen in the past, and I think that’s very important to come out on the right foot and set the tone early.”

What do the Union need to do to get after Vancouver Saturday? Leave a comment below. 

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