Match preview: A must win game at home for Philadelphia
Montreal Impact (3-13-5) at Philadelphia Union (5-8-9)
What: Major League Soccer regular season match
When: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET Where: PPL Park, Chester, PA. Tickets: purchase tickets here, tickets
TV: Comcast SportsNet, play-by-play JP Dellacamera, color analyst Peter Pappas
Radio: None Online: Streaming video via MLS Live
Follow the action via Twitter: @TheUMatchday; Game notes (PDF): click here
This is the kind of game that only takes place once or twice a season.
On Saturday the "U" host the Montreal Impact, also known as the bottom-dwellers of the Eastern Conference. The Impact come into PPL Park with a measly three wins and riding an astonishing six game losing streak.
The stars have finally aligned this season for Philadelphia. Recent big time signings of Carlos Valdes and Algerian national team goalie Rais Mbohli have been brought into provide reinforcements and should be primed to break into the Starting XI this Saturday. They would be taking the field against what statistically is the worst team in the MLS.
But something always feels a little off when the Union take on Montreal. First off, Philadelphia is 1-4-2 all-time in regular season clashes with the Impact, and in the past five meetings between the two teams Philly has only scored once while conceding nine times. In those meetings they have failed to come away with anything more than a point.
Something has to click on Saturday and it starts with interim manager Jim Curtin. “We’re not going to take them lightly, It’s basically in our hands -- whether we make the playoffs or not. We’ll have no one to answer to but ourselves. Handle your business at home, eight games here and steal one on the road or so and you’re in a really good spot,” said Curtin.
Curtin is expressing what the fans so desperately want, victories at home. PPL Park should be fortress for the Union, 18,000+ passionate fans, and a supporters section that sounds like something you would hear in Manchester. Home has to feel comfortable and be a place you look forward to playing in, you should expect to win there.
Regrettably, this has not been the case all season long; Philly has only won twice in nine games at home during MLS competitions. Like Curtin said eight of the final twelve games here means this trend has to change and change now.
What’s a better game to do it in then against Montreal.
— Danny Cruz (@Dannycruz5) August 7, 2014
If we assume that Valdes and M’Bohli play then that’s two experienced World Cup vets anchoring the backline with Mo Edu having World Cup experience providing a solid third vet. Vincent Nogueira has regained his fitness and in turn the inherent skill he possesses. Ray Gaddis has performed well enough to spur talk of him getting USMNT call-ups. The Boys in Blue look to have weathered the inevitable storm that comes in any sports season and actually managed to come out stronger on the other side.
Scoring has come fast and furiously; sixteen goals in the last seven games and second in the Eastern Conference in total goals for. Montreal has been giving up goals aplenty so Conor Casey, Sebastien Le Toux, and up-and-comer Brian Brown should see chances left and right.
When you stack the two teams up it seems rather lopsided but there is one wild card that must be mentioned. Yes, Jack McInerney will be back in PPL Park for the first time since leading the Union in scoring in 2013. He has been productive in Montreal, scoring nine goals in all competitions. It’s a sure bet that he circled this game the minute he was dealt and will be fired up to play his old teammates.
McInerney is all the Impact have really have in attack as fellow forward Marco Di Vaio has failed to live up to his magnificent last season. With a newly cemented Philadelphia backline look for few chances to even be created.
While things do look promising on paper it’s what we see on the field that will determine the outcome of the game. The utmost focus has to be applied on Saturday and Philadelphia cannot get caught in this “trap” game looking forward to their Open Cup semi-final against FC Dallas. Get the three points at home and get the playoff ball rolling.
A little motivation:
What will the result be Saturday? Leave your comment below.
Contact Union writer Doug Ammon at email@example.com