On Saturday, the Philadelphia Union continue their road trip with a visit to Rio Tinto Stadium, home of the reigning MLS champions Real Salt Lake. Contrary to Philly’s last match, against the league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy, the Union will this time come up against a side struggling to find their championship form at the moment. RSL have won only two of their six matches.

This gives the Union hope, as does a solid week of training for the side.

“Our team has been really good in practice,” said assistant coach John Hackworth this week. “Defensively we want to be compact and organized, which was something we were not good at on Saturday. We had a film review where we looked at some problem areas. It seems we have the hard part figured out but we need to get the simpler stuff nailed down.”

They’ll have to play the match without one of their key players, midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi, who saw red in the Galaxy match. It was the third time this season that the Union have been without a man, following Toni Stahl’s ejection in their opener against Seattle and then captain Danny Califf’s dismissal against Toronto.

Seeing Miglioranzi get sent off surprised Hackworth.

“Stefani is one of the nicest people to walk the face of the Earth,” said Hackworth. “He’s by far the nicest guy who played on the field Saturday night. Bruce Arena would tell you that, too. He didn’t have any ill intent. He went to go win the ball and he does. He doesn’t hit any LA player. He almost kills Fred, but he doesn’t hit any LA player. The problem is he does it in a way that looks bad, with his studs showing. The officials are looking for that.”

Without Miglioranzi patrolling the center of the park, the Union will have to work hard to not let RSL’s impressive midfield overwhelm them. Kyle Beckerman, Will Johnson, and Javier Morales make up one of the strongest midfield combinations in the league.

“The guys believe in themselves, we are together,” said Hackworth. “We’re ready. We feel like we’re back in it. If we learn some very valuable lessons from Saturday we can give Salt Lake a great game. Can we get a result? I’m not gonna say that—we’re playing the MLS champions at altitude, on the road, possibly without our leading scorer, down our most experienced midfielder, so we have some hurdles. But our expectation is to get something out of it.”

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