Philadelphia Union vs. New England Revolution
What: Major League Soccer regular season match
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
TV: Comcast SportsNet featuring play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas
Game notes (PDF): Click here
As the Union prepares to kick off the second half of its 2014 Major League Soccer campaign, following a break – if one can really call it that – from action due to the group stage of the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the question is this:
Is this a club that has found its scoring form?
Signs would point to yes, given that the club struggled through its first 11 matches of the season, but have come alive as of late scoring timely goals when needed. The club has compiled 19 goals in its last eight matches in all competitions. As a result, the Union went unbeaten in its last two MLS matches before the break and has vaulted itself into the quarterfinal stage of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, grinding out a pair of extra time victories at PPL Park.
Now, it’s a chance to convert that success against one of the best teams in the League in a New England Revolution side on Saturday night (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) that packs a ton of offensive firepower.
“The games that we have won against them are the 1-0, grind it out, not let their guys get a full head of steam and start to run [type of matches],” said Union interim manager Jim Curtin, who will get his first start as manager in an MLS match. “When you look at them, their front four players are strong, [Diego] Fagundez when he gets going [is a menace], Lee Nyugen has been one of the top players in the league, they have a bunch of midfielders that can score goals too…New England is a tough place to play, so there will be some tweaks but we’re going to stick to the things that we have stuck to over the past two weeks, which have been telling our guys to win your individual battles, because it’s what’s most important.”
The positives are that Union forwards are finding (and finishing) scoring opportunities. Conor Casey was on a four goal in two-match tear before the break, Andrew Wenger scored a pair to lift the Union over developmental affiliate Harrisburg in fourth round U.S. Open Cup play and surefooted striker Sebastien Le Toux leads the team in goals and has been putting himself in the right spots to generate chances and goals. Le Toux told reporters that since coming back from a midseason back injury, things are much clearer for him in the final third.
“Yeah, I feel pretty good and I’m ready to get going after this break,” Le Toux said. “Before Vancouver I had the back injury and had to sit out, I was not really a 100 percent. I was playing with my back bothering me when I ran, so I took a few games coming off the bench and I feel much better. Right now, I’m close to 100 percent. I can see the field better, my touch is better, I can run, I can help the team, so [for me it’s all about] getting good performances again.”
Collectively the Union will hope for a good performance to get itself back on track. Following New England is another road match against FC Dallas on Independence Day all before a return to PPL Park for a home match on “Fireworks Night” against another Western Conference foe in the Colorado Rapids (7 p.m., purchase tickets). Sandwiched in between all those the Union will host the Revolution in quarterfinal round play of the U.S. Open Cup on July 8. (7 p.m., purchase tickets).
What do the Union need to do to get off on the right foot? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at email@example.com