The schedule shows two regular season games remain for the Philadelphia Union.
But that’s not entirely accurate.
Since the Union are such a young side, many of their players aren’t just playing the last two games. They’re auditioning for next season and beyond.
The first test will come against Sporting Kansas City Wednesday night at LIVESTRONG Park followed by Saturday’s regular season finale against the New York Red Bulls at PPL Park.
“I still want to come next year and be a 90-minute player like everyone else,” said rookie forward Antoine Hoppenot, who's lightning quick style makes him both a fan and locker room favorite. “You always want to be a starter and play 90 minutes. I’m going to try and show to get a chance next year to show that I can play 90 minutes.”
In the process, the Union will be looking for a pair of victories.
“The last [two] games, we’re playing for pride, we’re playing our team, we’re playing for the organization,” Hoppenot said. “For us, there’s not that much pressure in terms of making the playoffs. At the end of the day, everyone is talking in the locker room, we want to come out with [six] points.”
In this roller coaster season, the Union have struggled to compile points on a consistent basis.
The younger players have continued to learn and improve in all facets. When they return for the 2013 season, those lessons from the past will certainly help.
“I think we’ve gotten better every day, even when things weren’t going our way,” said third-year forward Jack McInerney. “The coaches work with us all the time and push us to get better. I think every player in this locker room has gotten better and we’re all excited about the future.”
Captain Carlos Valdes believes the Union should have more points. He pointed to several matches in which a break here or there impacted the match.
Looking ahead to next season, the tough defender is expecting different results.
“I know all the guys in here are good, tough players,” Valdes said. “Some results didn’t go our way. We have kept fighting and I like that about this club. I know good things are coming in the future here.”
Team manager John Hackworth will certainly have a busy offseason. There are so many decisions to be made.
First, there are two final matches to be played.
“At the end of the year, the analysis of our current roster is something we’ll look at very carefully,” Hackworth said. “Guys who have performed well for us but might not be the answer down the road, all of those things come into play in the next (two) games. It’s our last look at the guys on our current roster and you can’t overstate that. There are some tough decisions we have to make in that locker room.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com