The significance is obvious.
With four matches remaining and the Philadelphia Union sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, this one on Saturday is huge.
The Union (11-10-9, 42 points) host Toronto FC (5-15-11, 26 points) at 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park. These three points won’t be easy. Nothing ever comes easy against Toronto FC.
“It’s certainly one of the biggest games,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We’re in a position right now with this game, two games left at home, being in fifth place right now, it’s important that we treat this game with the respect it deserves. And our opponent is probably much better than people are giving them credit for. It’s going to be a really tough game, but one for us as an organization is very important.”
Coming off a gritty 1-0 victory at Sporting Kansas City last Friday, the Union put themselves back in the playoff race.
The task now is to push forward again as the favorite at home against a club with just five victories all season.
“I think tactically, we have to approach the game a little differently,” Hackworth said. “Last Friday, we were the underdog, and quite honestly, we’re pretty good in that role. This week, people are going to say, ‘We’re at home. Philly has got to win to keep pace with the playoff race.’ The pressure is on us this week. That’s OK because I think anybody in our locker room would want it that way.”
Hackworth said he would rely a good bit this week on the veteran players to keep the club concentrated.
“I think that comes from leadership, Brian Carroll, Jeff Parke, they’ve been good at making sure we’re focused on what we can control,” Hackworth said.
The Union left the Sporting Kansas City a bit bruised and battered. Over the past week, they’ve gotten much better.
“We’ve recovered well,” Hackworth said. “Keon (Daniel) is back and training 100 percent. Danny (Cruz) is pretty close to being 100 percent. Sheanon (Williams) is good. Right now, Sebastien (Le Toux) is having a bit of an issue with his plantar fasciitis. That kind of inflammation is something he’s going to have to work through. Overall, we’re pretty healthy.”
If the Union are able to get three points against Toronto FC, it would mark the club's 12th victory. That would be the most wins in any of their four MLS seasons.
It would also go a long way to securing their second career playoff berth.
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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at email@example.com