Walkout vs. Houston
Greg Carroccio

Full steam ahead: Union know remaining four matches are vital to securing playoff berth

The push for the playoffs will likely come down to the final regular season match at Columbus.

But there are four huge matches remaining – three at PPL Park and the last one on the road at Crew Stadium.

The Philadelphia Union could have gained ground but ultimately fell 1-0 at D.C. United on Saturday. It wasn’t completely crushing.

It just means the Union need a bunch of points in their final four matches.

“The playoffs should be in the back of our minds now, and I think that should be the only push that any of us need,” midfielder Danny Cruz said following the 1-0 loss to D.C. United. “You know, when you are playing the game you try to put yourself in the best positions to be successful, and (interim manager Jim) Curtin is right, in the end of the first half we didn’t get a lot of numbers in the box. It was Conor (Casey) fighting guys by himself. We were ripping balls in, but there wasn’t enough people in there. Second half, I really do think we did a better job, we just didn’t finish. I know I had a good opportunity. There was a few good chances off set pieces, like I said, and it wasn’t there. But we now have a few days to get ready for Chicago, someone that is in the East, and if we do our job and get the results at home that we need we’ll be in a good spot.”

There isn’t much time to dwell on this loss with the Chicago Fire coming to PPL Park on Thursday night (8 p.m., purchase tickets).

These three points are vital.

“I think today we had a lot of set pieces, got ourselves in positions and cleared the ball away a lot,” Cruz said. “I think the final ball wasn’t really there, but I think there are positives to take away from it. We know that we have a huge three games now at our home, and if we do the job I have no doubt that we can get into the playoffs.”

Since Curtin took over, the Union have advanced to the final of the U.S. Open Cup and are in position to possibly earn their second playoff berth in franchise history.

Every game will likely be a grind.

The Union have been incredibly resilient under Curtin. There's no reason to expect that to change.

“Yeah, the goals have dried up,” Curtin said. “You know, we’re struggling. We are getting chances. We’re creating chances, maybe a little more commitment to get in the box; we talked about it at halftime. First half, I thought we just got out competed for probably 40 of the 45 minutes, but that changed in the second half. I thought we put a lot more into it. You know, probably deserved a goal, but we didn’t get one. So again, the goals have kind of dried up. We are going to have to find a way to fight through it, and we need to now win three games in a row to give ourselves even a chance at the playoffs."

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Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com

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