CHESTER, Pa. – It will be a busy week at PPL Park.
The Philadelphia Union are preparing to host FC Schalke in an international friendly Wednesday night (7:30 pm ET, TICKETS) followed by a Mother’s Day clash against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon.
Not a bad doubleheader.
For the players, the thought process is one match at a time.
For now, all of their focus is squarely focused on FC Schalke, especially considering the club is looking for confidence after dropping consecutive league matches to San Jose and Seattle.
While this friendly won’t count in the standings, it represents an opportunity to improve and impress against one of the Bundesliga's top sides.
“That’s the mentality being from Philadelphia, that’s our whole mentality, you work hard, give it 110 percent whenever you can,” midfielder Amobi Okugo told philadelphiaunion.com after training on Tuesday. “Especially with a friendly, it’s going to be good to work out some kinks, work on some things we need to work on to get ready for New York on Sunday. We know we have a lot to improve on.”
Defender Sheanon Williams expressed similar thoughts.
“We have some things to work on,” Williams told philadelphiaunion.com. “We take it almost as a training exercise. We want to be competitive and have a good showing. We have some things to work on with both sides of the ball, so we want to continue to improve and hopefully, it gets us ready for Sunday. We play 11 v. 11 every week anyway, so this is another game in that respect.”
Wednesday's match will have some extra meaning with Raúl’s final performance for Schalke.
Plus, the Union will try and defend their home field like they have done so well in three previous friendlies at PPL Park. They’re 3-0-0 all-time with 1-0 victories over Chivas de Guadalajara, Celtic FC and Everton.
“This is why you have an entire team -- to take advantage of (playing Wednesday) against great competition,” said midfielder Brian Carroll. “Full well knowing we have a good league opponent coming up on the weekend, I’m sure lots of guys will see minutes and they’ll use that to prepare for New York. This match tomorrow also allows us to work on things for New York. It allows us to get game minutes to get sharper, to get fitter in a game environment, provide competition against the best possible opponent before New York.”
Once the action kicks off against Schalke, the players will certainly be playing to win.
“Schalke is a really good team and they did really well in Germany,” Williams said. “Some of their bigger players will be out there and I’m sure they’re not gong to want to lose just like we won’t want to lose. So it’ll definitely be competitive and both teams will be wanting to work on some stuff and get a good result.”
WATCH: Union-Schalke 04 preview