The Philadelphia Union have pushed the elite teams in this league to the brink at times this season, but results against the top notch sides from both the Western and Eastern Conferences have been elusive.
Thursday night will present another opportunity for the Union to test their mettle against arguably their toughest opponent of the season. The LA Galaxy come to town with Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, Omar Gonzalez and David Beckham leading the way, currently pacing the race for the Supporters' Shield by two points over Real Salt Lake.
The Union certainly aren’t taking this challenge lightly.
“Obviously we know that they have a very good attacking team,” said defender Michael Orozco Fiscal. “With Donovan, Buddle, and with Beckham putting balls in, we just have to be very mentally ready, not give up any easy shots on goal and just try to defend our goal for 90 minutes."
“We just have to be sharp in the back," added Rookie of the Year candidate Danny Mwanga. “Because they are very good at offense and at the same time if we get chances early in the game we have to make sure we finish them, and not give them any easy chances in the back.”
With the media circus surrounding Beckham and Donovan, the Union will have a chance to steal the show from LA's star-studded outfit. Orozco Fiscal and the rest of Peter Nowak's side have to be confident in order to earn a result.
By all accounts, they are.
“We can play against the Galaxy, which is a very good team,” said Orozco Fiscal. “We can prove ourself, get rid of the little bad taste that we had."
That bad taste comes from the 3-1 drubbing the Union took from the Galaxy at the Home Depot Center earlier this year.
One advantage the Union will have on their side this time around is the crowd. The Union faithful have helped create a unique home field advantage, and will no doubt be in a frenzied state for one of the most highly anticipated matches in PPL Park history.
“It's something very, very different," said Sebastien Le Toux, the Union's leading scorer. “Because we really have lots of people behind us, we have lots of energy when it’s a little bit difficult for us during the game. It’s a great atmosphere and the Philadelphia fans are always behind us, so it's something very good.”
The relationship between the fans and the Union is special, and it should help spur the Union to victories beside the Commodore Barry Bridge for years to come.
“It’s a big advantage especially for us,” said Danny Mwanga of the home crowd. “The fans, the Sons of Ben, every game out there supporting us. They are going to be there and we're going to push even harder to get these three points."
In Thursday's highly-anticipated matchup, three points against the league's top team would be all the thanks the Union faithful need.