Preview: Union look to keep faint hopes alive at Toronto

TORONTO FC vs PHILADELPHIA UNION
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
September 15, 2012 (WEEK 28, MLS Game #263)
1 p.m. ET (TSN/RDS; CSN-Phi)

Toronto FC and Philadelphia Union face off for the third time this season when the clubs meet Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC saw their goal of a first-ever playoff berth come to an end at midweek, when they lost 2-1 to the Chicago Fire at home. Union need every point they can take if they are to reach the postseason for a second consecutive season, sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference following a scoreless draw with New England in their last match.

REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Philippe Briere; JAR (opposite): Daniel Belleau; 4th: Geoff Gamble
MLS Career: 54 games; FC/gm: 27.4; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 8; pens: 7

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INJURY REPORT:

  • TORONTO FC – OUT: GK Stefan Frei (L lower leg); FW Danny Koevermans (L knee ACL tear); DF Ty Harden (lower abdominal strain); MF Torsten Frings (L hip); QUESTIONABLE: FW Eric Hassli (rib contusion); DF Doneil Henry (L knee tendinosis) …
  • PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: FW Krystian Witkowski (concussion symptoms); QUESTIONABLE: DF Gabriel Farfan (L big toe sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: TOR: Ashtone Morgan (caution accumulation; through Sept. 15)

WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Torsten Frings … PHI: Gabriel Gomez, Michael Farfan
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Richard Eckersley, Eric Hassli, Doneil Henry, Ryan Johnson, Reggie Lambe … PHI: Brian Carroll, Gabriel Farfan, Michael Lahoud, Jack McInerney, Carlos Valdes

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 7 goals … Union 3 wins, 13 goals … Ties 1

AT TORONTO (3 meetings): Toronto FC 2 wins, 5 goals … Union 1 win, 7 goals … Ties 0

2012 (MLS):

5/26: TOR 1, PHI 0 (Koevermans 88)

7/8: PHI 3, TOR 0 (Gómez 34; Adu 36; Hoppenot 78)

• The teams have split their two meetings this season. A Danny Koevermans goal was the difference in TFC’s 1-0 win May 26 at BMO Field, their first win this season. Gabriel Gómez, Freddy Adu and Antoine Hoppenot scored to give Union a 3-0 win July 8 at PPL Park.
• The victory in the first meeting was the first for TFC in four meetings with Union.
• Union set a club record with a six-goal outburst in a 6-2 win against Toronto FC last May 28 at BMO Field.
• Coaches record: Paul Mariner vs. PHI: P1 W0 L1 T0 … John Hackworth vs. TOR: P1 W1 L0 T0

LAST MEETING

• Union took the lead in the 34th minute. Jack McInerney chased down a long ball from Michael Farfan along the right side and found an open Gabriel Gómez in the box, whose classy finish snuck inside the post past goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
• Just two minutes later, Union doubled the lead when Gabriel Farfan’s through ball set up Freddy Adu, whose left-footed blast from inside the area found the back of the net.
• Antoine Hoppenot completed the scoring in the 78th minute, after he was sprung on a through pass from Michael Farfan and blasted a low shot past Kocic.
• PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan (Chris Albright 89) - Brian Carroll, Gabriel Gomez - Lionard Pajoy, Michael Farfan (Roger Torres 83), Freddy Adu - Jack McInerney (Antoine Hoppenot 65).
• TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Milos Kocic - Jeremy Hall, Logan Emory (Doneil Henry 86), Richard Eckersley, Ashtone Morgan - Reggie Lambe, Torsten Frings, Terry Dunfield (Luis Silva 65), Eric Avila (Julian de Guzman 46) - Danny Koevermans, Ryan Johnson.

TORONTO FC

Toronto FC saw their winless streak stretched to eight games, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Chicago Fire on Wednesday evening at BMO Field. TFC is in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, with 21 points from 28 games.

• The Fire opened the scoring in the 13th minute. A quick series of passes in the final third was concluded when Pavel Pardo fired a shot off the post –- only to see the rebound come right back to him. He spun and put in a cross from the left that found Alvaro Fernandez unmarked to head home for the lead.
• The lead was doubled three minutes before halftime. A corner kick was poorly cleared and fell to Chris Rolfe outside the area, and he slammed home a low drive that sailed inside the left post.
• TFC pulled a goal back in the 79th minute when midfielder Luis Silva set up Eric Hassli in the left side of the penalty area, curling a shot past Sean Johnson's dive.
• TFC head coach Paul Mariner made three changes to the team that suffered a 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. Milos Kocic came in between the posts in place of Freddy Hall, Reggie Lambe started in midfield in favor of Terry Dunfield, and Eric Hassli came in up top in place of Ryan Johnson.
• TORONTO FC (4-4-2): Milos Kocic - Jeremy Hall, Darren O'Dea, Richard Eckersley, Logan Emory (Eric Avila 56) - Andrew Wiedeman (Ashtone Morgan 46), Luis Silva, Aaron Maund, Reggie Lambe - Quincy Amarikwa (Matt Stinson 75), Eric Hassli.

TEAM NEWS
• Over their eight-game winless streak in league play, TFC is 0-6-2. Their last victory came July 18, 2-1 vs. Colorado. It’s the second-longest winless streak for the club this season, after opening the campaign with nine consecutive losses.
• “We were their best player.  If you want to give teams a two-goal stand then carry on, but we’re not that good,” said TFC head coach Paul Mariner. “We were the architects of our own downfall. Playing ridiculous balls in the wrong area of the field. I thought we eradicated that, but obviously some of the lads that have been in the squad haven’t been listening.”
• With the loss, Toronto FC became the first team eliminated from playoff consideration this season.
• “It’s all about being a professional,” Mariner said. “We are at the bottom of the table. We haven’t won in two months. And that is the type of performance that you give as a group? There is absolutely no excuse for that first half. They played as individuals even though everything we have spoken about is always around the fact that we have to be together to get a result.”
• TFC saw some of their international campaigners back for the Chicago match. Bermuda international Reggie Lambe started and played 90 minutes, while Canadian international Ashtone Morgan came on as a halftime substitute.
• “You can come up with all the excuses in the world – international call-ups and injuries to key players. But I was brought up in an environment where you were dying to get your opportunity to play at a great place like BMO Field or Old Trafford or Highbury. And when your chance came, you made sure that you stayed in the team and you made sure that the manager couldn’t drop you. You can draw your own conclusion from what you saw tonight,” said Mariner.
• Eric Hassli scored his second goal since coming to TFC from Vancouver Whitecaps FC, his fourth of the season.
• TFC have six league matches remaining – three at BMO Field, three on the road – and two games in the CONCACAF Champions League.
• “[We’ll] find out a great deal about the players and demand that we have a higher level of performance from everybody,” Mariner said. “It’s all about analyzing what’s going to be around next year. There is one thing that you have to have in a football team and that is fight. If you are not fighting for your right to play and your own personal pride, then that’s a problem.”

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Philadelphia Union saw their winless streak extended to six games last time out, reaching a scoreless draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Union are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 26 points from 25 games.

• The closest either team came to scoring was header off the crossbar by Union's Amobi Okugo a minute before halftime.
• Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis was credited with seven saves on the evening, while Union 'keeper Zac MacMath registered three for the match.
• Union interim manager John Hackworth made two changes to the team that went down to a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew at PPL Park. Freddy Adu and Antoine Hoppenot came into the side for Gabriel Gomez and Jack McInerney.
• PHILADELPHIA UNION (4-2-3-1): Zac MacMath - Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan - Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud - Danny Cruz (Josue Martinez 83), Michael Farfan, Freddy Adu (Keon Daniel 80) - Antoine Hoppenot (Jack McInerney 67).

TEAM NEWS

• Union have now gone six games without a victory, matching the second-longest winless run in club history. Union went eight games without a win last season.
• Over their six-game winless streak, Union have scored three goals total, and have not scored more than a single goal in any game.
• “We have to do a better job of executing in front of goal. All you can do is work at it, prove it and make sure guys feel good about the work they put in so they have a little bit of confidence going into the next game,” Hackworth said. “… This week, we are tracking every single goal scored in training. Those stats aren’t going to lie. So going into next week, we’ll have a pretty good idea who is finding the back of the net on a consistent basis for our team.”
• After three consecutive starts, Jack McInerney returned to the substitutes’ bench with Antoine Hoppenot starting. McInerney came on for the final quarter of the match.
• “We’ve been best as a team with our personnel playing with a 4-3-3,” Hackworth said. “It might not suit Jack the best though. He might be better with a two-striker system, playing in a more traditional 4-4-2. But the impressive thing is he has continued to do the job and I have no problem with him week in and week out. All of us would love to see him score more goals, but he’s played that role better than anyone on our team.”
• Said McInerney: “It’s not my favorite. I’d rather have another forward out there with me to combine with, someone who can work off me. But I’m fine with it.”
• For Hoppenot, it was his first start since July 29, when he made his first start in MLS. Hoppenot has appeared in the last 15 league matches.
• After coming off the bench in back-to-back matches, the two stints totaling 21 minutes, Freddy Adu started and played 80 minutes in a wide left role.
• “It’s good to have Freddy back here in this opportunity and we’re trying to get it across to all our players that we want players to be consistent in training and games and whoever is called upon, we want them to play as a team and for the team,” said Hackworth. “Freddy was important, he always is important, he’s important for us every game. But it was nice to have him back.”
• After going six consecutive games without a shutout, Union have now recorded clean sheets in two of their last three games – but both were scoreless draws.
• “Whenever you get a shutout its good for Zac (MacMath), it’s good for the back line in terms of confidence and in terms of structure,” said defender Amobi Okugo. “I think the back line has done pretty well the last few games, just a few mishaps here and there. And it was good to get a shutout, but we didn’t win.”
• Said Hackworth: “It was great that Carlos (Valdes) was able to (play). We wouldn’t have played him unless he was 100 percent. Our back line weren’t under much pressure during the first half. … In the end for us to get a shutout on the road, yeah, that’s important.”