Philadelphia Union (2-7-5, 11 points) at Chivas USA (2-6-4, 10 points)
When: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET; Where: StubHub Center, Carson, Calif.
TV: Comcast SportsNet featuring play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas
Will a week of training under the California sun translate into three much needed points?
Union manager John Hackworth and his staff certainly hope so looking to come off a tough loss to Los Angeles with points in hand against Chivas USA when the two square off Saturday night.
The first order of business will be shoring up a back line that has given up nine goals in two matches after starting off the season allowing less than two goals (1.25 goals against) in its first 12 games.
“There’s no way to sugarcoat it. It hasn’t been good,” Hackworth said during his weekly press conference. “We are clearly struggling to find a backline that is executing and playing well. But it’s something we’ve got to continue to work on.”
Offensively, the Union is finding a way to get goals which has been a struggle in previous matches. Despite a pair coming from converted penalty kicks, the Union has managed to score four goals in its past two. Against a Chivas USA side coming off a loss of its own, getting goals and getting them early could make pulling points before a return to PPL Park a very viable possibility.
The one thing Hackworth and Co. need to ensure is that the right lineup will be at the ready to face a Chivas team that although having struggles of its own have a potent attack in Erick Torres and former Seattle midfielder Mauro Rosales.
“The reality is that it’s tough to balance right now,” Hackworth said during a recent conference call from Los Angeles. “With each game and as we go through our training sessions, we’re going to try to find the best possible matchups for what we think we can be successful in the game going forward.”
“The only way we can get through it is to have a game where our defense, our collective team defending, our willingness to compete is solid all the way around. And that establishes it. Until that happens, we’re not in a position to say, ‘hey, this is what we’re doing and these are the guys that are doing it.’”
The team will be without midfielder Sebastien Le Toux, who remained in Philadelphia to rehab a back injury. Additionally, Michael Lahoud will not be available due to a second international call-up to his native Sierra Leone, competing in the second leg of qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.
The group does find a return of Cristian “Chaco” Maidana to the lineup, missing in action against the Galaxy after receiving an ejection two weeks prior against New England.
Certainly an attacking, creative boost to a team that can use one right now.
“Chaco gives us the ability to have a guy who is good on set pieces, good off the dribble, can take a guy one-v-one,” said Hackworth. “We certainly need an infusion of that in our game on Saturday. We’re hopeful that we can bring Chaco back, and we hope he can bring that for us.”
What do you think of the re-inclusion of Maidana to the lineup? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at firstname.lastname@example.org