Philadelphia Union is down but not out.
They traveled to Montreal, took a 1-0 lead in the second half and ultimately left Stade Saputo with a frustrating 2-1 loss last Saturday.
With one final regular season match looming Saturday against Sporting Kansas City at PPL Park, the Union know this much: there’s still plenty to play for. If they win the match, they could wind their way into the playoffs. A draw won’t be good enough.
Win the match and hope for other outcomes. That’s where the Union sit.
At least they’re one of the 19 teams in MLS that reside in the playoff picture.
“The players understand what’s on the line we have talked about it enough,” Union manager John Hackworth said after the 2-1 loss at Montreal. “It’s just disappointing and if we are still mathematically alive next weekend, we’re going to put everything we have into it no matter what, but (last Saturday), especially in that second half, was our opportunity and we let ourselves down.”
The Union played against the Impact without Sebastien Le Toux, who has been battling plantar fasciitis. And they’re going to be without captain Brian Carroll against Sporting Kansas City because of yellow card accumulation.
No matter who’s in the lineup, this is about getting three points any way possible.
“Just got to keep going,” forward Conor Casey said. “Our effort is good, we can’t blame it on that since it’s been there all year. We just got to keep going out and leading on the field and being a little bit better for the small things.”
To stay alive in the playoff race, the Union need a 13th victory on Saturday. It won’t be easy against a club that has been very good on the road.
This is clearly a playoff game before the playoffs, just like the one in Montreal.
“I think we played a good first half and got the goal,” Hackworth said of the loss to the Impact. “We had some good opportunities to get two goals and unfortunately we didn’t execute on those opportunities. They came out with a lot of energy in the second half and really pushed the game. Montreal got the equalizer and kept pushing after that and we did not do a good job of dealing with it. This was a playoff game before the playoffs, so both of us had to win tonight and our expectation was for us to come here and get the victory.”
The expectation is to get the victory against Sporting Kansas City. After a marathon season, it comes down to this.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org