CHESTER, Pa. — The objective will be the same, but the Philadelphia Union will look slightly different than they did in their previous match, a 1-0 victory last Saturday at Chivas USA.
When the Western Conference-leading San Jose Earthquakes visit PPL Park Saturday night, the Union will be without Gabriel Farfan and Keon Daniel, who each received red cards against Chivas USA. Midfielder Brian Carroll is doubtful to play due to a right hamstring strain, and Philadelphia will also be without manager Peter Nowak, who was suspended by the league for this match and May 5 against Seattle.
If captain Danny Califf returns from a hamstring injury as expected, he’ll likely rejoin Sheanon Williams and Carlos Valdes on the back line.
Recently signed attacking midfielder Kai Herdling will also be available for selection for the first time after arriving in Philadelphia on Thursday.
“We’ll try to maneuver a little bit,” Nowak said of his lineup. “The back line has been very solid, but there are guys who we may ask to play a position that isn’t natural, but they know the responsibilities. Whether it’s Ray (Gaddis) on the left or Sheanon on the right, maybe the other way around. We still have Porfirio Lopez and Chris Albright, so we’ll figure out what to do.”
Regardless of personnel, one thing the Union must do is mark Chris Wondolowski, who is tied with New York’s Thierry Henry for the league lead with eight goals. The Union offense is still looking to find a groove, having managed only four goals in six matches this season.
“We need to always have a body close to Wondolowski,” Califf said. “He’s one of those guys that runs around, does some good things but lulls you to sleep. Then suddenly there he is, getting on the ball. He can score with his head, his feet, his knee. He just finds a way to score goals. We have to be 100 percent concentrated on him at all times.”
The Union’s concentration level must remain strong to push their winning streak to three and unbeaten streak to four. San Jose present a major challenge and it’s not just Wondolowski. The whole club is performing at an extremely high level.
Philadelphia also come in with a good bit of confidence, especially playing at PPL Park, with a 332-minute shutout streak dating back to March 24 against Chicago.
“It’s important for these guys to be confident and believe in each other,” Nowak said. “When you play with eight (field players) and still win the game, the group cannot come closer. Now it’s about taking another step forward.”
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