Numbers don’t always tell the whole truth.
While the numbers show that the Philadelphia Union are unbeaten in seven career matches (4-0-3) against the New England Revolution, Saturday’s eighth match promises to be the most challenging one yet.
The Revolution (1-0-0) won 1-0 at Chicago, not an easy place to play. Led by goalkeeper Matt Reis and a new-look group virtually from top to bottom, the Revolution appear to be rejuvenated in 2013.
“It’s a good stat to look at but it is a different New England team,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “They are well coached, organized and they know they can go on the road and win. It presents a new challenge for us.”
The defense in front of Reis hardly resembles past New England clubs. This one is much, much improved.
“They have six guys who are committed to defending,” Hackworth said. “Reis was fantastic in goal for them last week and to have a veteran goalkeeper like that play at that level, it means we’ll have to be pretty special to break them down and beat them.”
It’s the second home match for the Union (1-1-0), who lost 3-1 to Sporting Kansas City in the season opener before going on the road to dispatch Colorado 2-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Taking back control at home is something the Union are focused on doing, beginning with this match against New England.
“New England is undefeated and are an Eastern Conference opponent, which means they stand in our way,” Hackworth said. “We have a lot of pride in how we want to play at PPL Park and we want to establish a domain here at home. It’s a really important game for us.”
Union midfielder Amobi Okugo scored his first career goal in the 2-1 win at Colorado.
The goal for the Union is to come away with three more crucial points against New England.
“I feel like (New England) has changed their culture a little bit,” Okugo said. “They’ve brought in some technical guys, like Lee Nguyen and especially Jerry Bengtson, who is there to pounce on your mistakes. So it’s going to be a tough matchup. We have to stay focused for 90 minutes and get the win.”
After gaining a character type of win at Colorado, the Union picked up some much-needed confidence. It sure made the trip back home a happy one.
“We feel really good,” Okugo said. “The red eye flight back was much better than if we had lost. It was good that we got the win. We’re trying to carry it forward.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org