After a recent training session, Zac MacMath looked rested and ready.
That’s because he was.
With the calendar flipping to September, it’s stretch drive time for the Philadelphia Union.
This is a team with postseason aspirations. Getting there starts with getting a positive result against Houston this Saturday (7:30 p.m., purchase tickets).
“I think we have that sense (of urgency) and to the players with the calendar flipping to September, it does seem like it going down the stretch, especially mentally, and we’re ready as a club,” MacMath said. “I feel refreshed, much more so than last year. It was much rougher last year with the locker room issues and whatever. I think the team has a good mentality. I’m in a very good place and I’m excited for the rest of the season and hopefully, into the playoffs.”
MacMath earned his 10th shutout in a scoreless draw against the Montreal Impact on Aug. 31.
While he’s more interested in club goals, getting to that magical number meant something.
“I was hoping I could get to 10 shutouts and to get there now is something special and something that I take a lot of pride in,” MacMath said “I think we have got a couple more shutouts left in us which is something we’d like to do. More than that, I think it’s something we tried to take pride in. We had a couple bad losses this year and we haven’t had two bad games in a row, which is good. To bounce back the way we did against Montreal shows the perseverance that we have and we’ve been able to erase those bad games.
“Our defense was great against Montreal and we showed a lot of character. I think the character of this club has been something special all season. The experience we have helps, but also because the team is in a good place and as a group, I think we’re all getting along. It’s not like we’re tired of each other and we’re eager to get on the field as much now as preseason.”
MacMath also pointed to the consistency of the coaching staff as a huge reason for his improvement and the club as a whole.
“It has helped a lot,” MacMath said. “We’ve been with Coach John [Hackworth] a long time. He’s got the same groove, the same trust each week and having that sense of trust between the coaches and players is something special.”
The Union have shown incredible character all season with positive results in a blizzard at Colorado and with a draw at Columbus, a place they hadn’t fared that well in previous years.
Now, back home this match looming against the Dynamo promises to be just as daunting.
However, MacMath said the club remains confident.
“We tend to stick more on our game plan on away games,” he said. “Usually, it ends up working out for us and we get a goal late and find a way to get the win. This is a tough place to play, but we’re going in with a good attitude and plan to stick to what we do best. Hopefully, we’ll come away with the result we expect.”
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org