hard work

Hard Work Key to Breaking Through on Road

After the exciting 1-1 tie against FC Dallas, Philadelphia Union’s players were talking about how nice it was to be home.

It was a short-lived visit, though.

In this inaugural season, the players have been well aware of the difficult schedule. Playing 8 of the first 10 league games away from home would be tough for any veteran team.

Imagine how hard it is for a first-year team trying every day to find its identity.

How do you prepare to embark on a three-game road trip to Houston (Saturday), Chicago and Kansas City before returning home to open PPL Park on June 27 against Seattle?

“Work, work, work, work,” said Team Manager Peter Nowak.

True, true, true, true.

But having the mental stability and mindset to go back on the road for three grinding matches can’t be easy. Especially when you’re searching for your first road win of the season.

The Union’s record stands at 1-5-1. 1-0-1 at home and 0-5 on the road.

“We have work to do,” said rookie forward Danny Mwanga, who scored the tying goal against FC Dallas at the end of the 93rd minute. “We have to work on finishing our plays. I think we have the potential to be a very good team. For us to win on the road, we have to finish plays. I think the staff will have us ready to play. Personally, I’ll be ready.”

Ah, confidence.

It’s amazing what a huge goal can do for a player’s confidence level as well as a team’s confidence level.

The Union have played well for stretches away from home yet they have come away empty with losses at Seattle, New York, Real Salt Lake, L.A. and Toronto. Being able to put together 90 solid minutes of play is key for the club to record that much-needed first road victory.

“I think we’re focused and hungry for a win on the road,” said midfielder Shea Salinas. “We have some momentum now from this tie. We’re undefeated at home. Now, we have to go out and play a complete game on the road. I think we’re close. We’ve done a lot of things well. If we can clean up some mistakes, I think we’ll start seeing improvement.”

If the Union can register the win at Houston, it could be even more beneficial.

“We have a three-game trip and it starts at Houston,” goalkeeper Chris Seitz said. “If we can get three points there, I think the momentum can really carry forward. We’re focused on the next match, which is huge for us. I think we’re all excited. Mentally, we’ll be ready.”

When the trip ends and the club returns home for the opener at PPL Park, the Union will see what homefield advantage is really like. After all those road games, it will be an unbelievable feeling to step on the field in Chester.

“We’re all excited about the opener in Chester,” said midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi. “We have our work cut out for us on the road. I think we’re doing a great job preparing for this. We knew before the season this was going to be tough and it has been. After seven games, I think we’re a lot better.”

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