Having two weeks off between matches is difficult on many levels.
When you have two weeks off amid an 0-3-2 skid, it’s even tougher.
But that’s the Philadelphia Union’s plight. They are 10-10-9 (39 points) and tied with the Chicago Fire for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the New England Revolution.
The Union have five matches remaining, beginning with a huge one Friday night at Sporting Kansas City (8 p.m., NBC Sports Network).
- Come to the Union vs. Sporting Kansas City viewing party this Friday at Gunners Run at the Piazza at Schmidt's:
While the Union had two weeks off, they were forced to watch how the rest of the clubs fared. That’s all they could do while getting ready for Sporting Kansas City.
“It’s awful hard right now,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “I usually watch all the games or as much of the games as I can just so I have a feel of what’s going on around the league but actually this is the first time I was thinking about as I went for a jog. I was like maybe I should just not watch one of these games, maybe I should watch Kansas city make sure I have my scouting done for that, not that we need to -- we pretty much know them inside and out.
“But at the same time, just come back to my living room at some point and ask my sons, “Hey who won,” and it would be a huge just mental relief for me. … I’m sure just because I’m not a creature of habit I’ll end up watching those games and agonizing them as the results start to fall.”
Even with the recent results, the Union are still in a very good place to secure a second playoff berth in four seasons. All they can control is what sits in front of them.
That starts Friday at Sporting Kansas City with three humongous points up for grabs.
“The only thing I think we all feel is that we are disappointed, we feel the frustration of the fans, that is certainly palpable when you walk off the field here after a game like Saturday night (against Houston), but there is nobody more frustrated or more disappointed in that result than the players and coaches,” Hackworth said. “We have to live it, it is our livelihood so we are very competitive group, we take a lot of pride in what we do and we have lofty goals for ourselves.
“At the same time, I think we have all been in this business long enough to know that these kind of run of forms happen in particular in the MLS season. I can tell you many times having a five-game winless streak is nothing compared to some of the winless streaks I have had in the past as a coach. It is how you rebound from them. I remember one such streak where we were able to reel off 12 consecutive wins. I am not saying we are going to get to that level, but we are still in a good position for ourselves. If we take care of business, if we play the way we played on Saturday night (against Houston), we will get the results. The ball will start falling in our favor.
“That is just the feeling that we have is that we have been really unfortunate and at the same time we have to take care of business ourselves and not leave it to chance that it is going to be a one-goal game or it is going to be a difficult decision that goes against us."
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org