How do you prepare for a team that’s undefeated to start the season? One that has allowed only allowed one goal through five games? A team led by the best player in America?
Confidence in your own game is a good place to start. The belief that despite starting the season with a 1-3-0 record, you are indeed good enough to beat a team like the LA Galaxy despite their hot start.
That’s the exact sentiment Philadelphia Union assistant coach John Hackworth is passing to his players ahead of Saturday's game.
“The Galaxy are right now the best team in the league,” said Hackworth before he and the team left for Los Angeles on Wednesday. “No question that’s going to be a huge challenge for us. In watching them and the personnel that they have, I don’t think it’s inconceivable that we can’t go in there and get a result. It would take us coming together in all ways to pull that off, but that’s what our goal is right now.”
It will be no easy task as Bruce Arena has put together a solid team in his second year in charge of the team and they have shown few signs of slowing down in the early stages of the season.
With U.S. Men’s National Team standout Landon Donovan pulling the strings and Edson Buddle scoring the goals (he has all seven of the team’s tallies), the Galaxy are a force to be reckoned with as they try to reach their second straight MLS Cup final.
Sticking together and playing as a team, combined with that positive attitude, will surely help out the visitors, says Hackworth.
“It’s going to take a collective effort of everyone playing up to their potential to do that,” said Hackworth of what he wants to see from his players on Saturday night. “We’re think we’re capable of it and we think we have the personnel to do it, it’s just a matter of going out and doing it.”
Without Sebastien Le Toux, the Union’s leading scorer, out with an injured knee, it’ll be up to the likes of Alejandro Moreno and others to produce goals for the team. Moreno, arguably the Union’s most underrated player so far this season, was quick to praise the efforts of this weekend’s opponents.
“The Galaxy will be very organized offensively,” said Moreno of the club where he began his MLS career. “They’ve tried to change the culture there over the last couple years with Bruce Arena coming in. They focus on getting a lot of people behind the ball and getting people organized offensively and obviously they can be very dangerous going forward. Landon Donovan can change a game for you and Edson Buddle is in great form. They’re a team that’s very confident right now.”
For Moreno, the match could a season-changer, and he expects his team to be ready for it.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” he said, “but also maybe a game where we can stand up to the test and be accountable for the result and it may be something that jump starts the rest of the season for us. We have a lot to gain in this game, and we’re optimistic we can get a result."