CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union are fresh off two solid home draws against Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids and now are set to hit the road to take on one of their biggest foes.
Playing D.C. United at RFK Stadium for the first time, the match will be certainly an exciting one as the teams are only separated by a mere 120 miles and there is already a huge rivalry in place between the two teams.
And despite United’s struggles this season, Union coach John Hackworth is ready for a fight when his team travels south this Sunday and expects both teams to go all out for the three points.
“Certainly D.C. is a big game for us,” said Hackworth after training on Wednesday. “We go on the road against logically one of our biggest rivals. They’re struggling and they’re going to search every way they can for points. It’s going to be tough, but we played well in our last couple games and feel like we’re due for some things to go our way.”
The teams are toiling at the tail end of the Eastern Conference table with Philadelphia sitting in seventh place, five points above last-place D.C.
For Hackworth, a match at this stage in the season is all about getting results, and that’s exactly what both teams will intend to do going into the match.
“At this point, when you’re talking about where both of us are in the standings, it’s irrelevant,” he said. “We need to get some results, but most importantly, we need to put together the kind of complete game that we know we’re capable of – on both sides of the ball.”
The last time the teams met back in April, it was the Union’s first home match in front of nearly 35,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field. Philadelphia were able to take the 3-2 result from United in what would become the franchise’s opening victory.
Looking at their opposition some four months later, Hackworth believes the team D.C. field on Sunday will have many parallels to the one from the start of the season, despite their record and a midseason coaching change.
“If you look at the way they started in that game, recently they’ve started very similar lineups,” said Hackworth of United’s recent tendencies. “Their main players up front are all there. There will be some changes because of the coaching change, but at the same time, it’s the same personnel for the most part.
"In that game, we gifted them a couple situations, but it wasn’t an easy game for us. We’ve watched a lot of tape from them this year and on a lot of occasions they’ve actually looked like the better team.”
Winning a rivalry match like this is obviously important, but Hackworth and the rest of the team know that the result itself is paramount.
“This is one game,” said Hackworth of Sunday’s match. “We’re going down there and we think we’re a good team and think that we’re much better that what the standings reflect.”