Portland Timbers (9-6-4, 31 points) at Philadelphia Union (5-10-4, 19 points)
What: MLS Regular Season; When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: PPL Park, Chester, Pa. Tickets: here
TV: 6abc with play-by-play announcer JP Dellacamera and color analyst Peter Pappas; Radio: None;
Social: Follow the action via Twitter: @TheUMatchday
Parking: $20 at all PPL lots; Mass Transit: Shuttle service to and from Chester Transportation Center
If you’re reading this, you probably watched the Women’s World Cup this weekend. You also probably watched the U.S. Men’s National Team play Honduras on Tuesday. And yes, while those are both nice to watch, I know what you’re really thinking about.
When will the Philadelphia Union play again?
Well never fear because the Philadelphia Union will continue their home stand as they take on the Portland Timbers at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Portland was in action this past weekend in a Sunday night game against the San Jose Earthquakes, winning 1-0 on a stoppage time goal from midfielder Jack Jewsbury. The Union, on the other hand, haven’t played since their U.S. Open Cup game against D.C. United last Tuesday. Due to their long break, the players were given the weekend off to recharge their batteries.
“You can see a freshness,” Jim Curtin said at his weekly press conference. “Some guys, there’s an eagerness to get back on the field and just play. Guys that are coming back from injury have a little bit of more life. You know, when you’re out, too, and the team goes on a good run, there’s a little bit more of a sense of urgency, say, to show that you’re still a guy that should be called upon as a starter.”
Being eager to get back on the field is something that the players spoke about as well, with Zach Pfeffer saying that guys were “chomping at the bit to get going again” and they were excited to “get back into the daily schedule and get their legs back under them”.
Those who benefitted most from the five-day break were the players who were coming back from injury, like Conor Casey, Steven Vitoria and Sebastien Le Toux, all of whom will be available for selection against Portland this weekend.
Coming into this game, the Union and the Timbers are two of the hottest teams in the MLS going 6-3-1 and 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, respectively. Over the course of those 10 games, the Union have scored 14 goals and conceded 12 while Portland has scored 15 and allowed 11 with both teams allowing five goals in games against the LA Galaxy in that stretch.
“Portland is a hot team right now, winning six of their last seven games but we’ve also done very well in our recent games as well so the past is behind us,” said Pfeffer. “Both teams have different personnel than in past seasons so we’re just going to go out and prepare this week as best as we can.”
With the win over D.C. United last week, the Union have improved to 6-4-2 in all competitions at home, something they look to continue to improve upon. Helping them in that regard is Portland’s away record of 4-6-1 and the fact that Portland have yet to score a goal at PPL Park in the two games that they have played here.
“We should be confident going into a Portland game that we know will be difficult, they’re a team that is good form right now, a team that is well coached, organized, doesn’t concede a ton of goals, and also confident right now,” Curtin said. “We do have the advantage of them having to come cross country and play in our stadium, so we know we’ll have a great crowd as always, cheering us on, and we’ll look to get three points.”
This is the team’s final home game in the MLS for the month of July, playing their last two league games of the month away at Toronto and away at D.C.
“We want to make PPL Park a fortress,” said Pfeffer. “That’s out goal and every time we step on the field at home, we expect to win and we want to win so that goal doesn’t change this weekend and we’re looking forward to getting three points.”
What do you think is a gameplan for success against Portland Timbers? Leave your comment below.
Contact Union writer Kyle Basedow at firstname.lastname@example.org.