CHESTER, Pa. – Many of the positives in the Philadelphia Union's inaugural season have come from their ability in the final third of the field. Possession and creating chances through fluid movement have been their strengths.
This weekend, they’ll be extremely important assets. Going up against a vastly improved New England side at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, the Union will need to break down a very stern defense that has only allowed seven goals in their last seven matches, six of which have come in their two most recent defeats.
Union Coach John Hackworth realizes that getting through their defense will be a very tough task that they’ll need to accomplish if they want to get a result out of the match.
“They have been very tough defensively and are coming off of a rough game themselves,” said Hackworth after training on Wednesday. “They’ve turned their season around with defense. We didn’t play them too long ago here, about four weeks and they’re pretty much the same. We’re going to know each other well. It’s a difficult place to play up there on the turf again on the road.
“Our expectation is that we can definitely play much better than we did on Sunday [in a 2-0 loss at D.C. United], and that’s what we’re going to try and do.”
Union captain Danny Califf stressed that his team needs to continue doing the things they do well and taking something from the match could be a very real possibility.
He also took quite a bit from the last time the teams played four weeks ago in a match that ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
“We didn’t really give them much at all,” said Califf of the July fixutre. “We created quite a few chances. We know that their style is more of a defensive counterattacking style, so we need to go in with the attitude that we’re going to be solid defensively and continue to work on the things that we’ve done well all year, which is trying to possess the ball and move it around.”
For Hackworth, it’ll have to be a complete team effort given New England’s recent strength.
“That’s what we can concentrate on – how to break them down as they’ve been very strong defensively,” said Hackworth of priority No. 1. “Where can we penetrate and what kind of movement do we want to have on and off the ball. Also on set pieces, an area that they are very good. Those are the things we’re going to try and take advantage of.”