CHESTER, Pa. — The Philadelphia Union were certainly prepared and ready to host the New England Revolution this past weekend.
But as Hurricane Irene stormed up the East Coast and the Union players learned that Sunday’s game against the Revs would be canceled, they also felt a small sense of relief.
“We’re in a tough stretch,” Union striker Sébastien Le Toux said. “I think it was a good mental break for everybody, maybe more than physically. I think we are now ready for Saturday.”
With the game against New England rescheduled to Sept. 7, the Union now play three games in a week, starting with a tough road contest vs. Real Salt Lake this Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
But a batch of bunched-together upcoming games is a small price to pay for having a rare weekend off, which provided rest and reprieve for a Union squad that hasn’t won a league game since the middle of July.
“I think it was good for everyone to get a break like that,” forward Danny Mwanga said. “It’s a long season and to be able to get your body rested and healthy is great for us. I didn’t do a whole lot except take it easy.”
While getting the chance to heal some bumps and bruises was important for some players, Union manager Peter Nowak agreed with Le Toux that getting the chance to cool off mentally was more important than anything else, especially for the MLS rookies who are used to shorter seasons in college or abroad.
Now that it’s been nearly two weeks since the Union last played a league game, Nowak said his players can recharge their batteries and prepare for the final 10 games of the season over what will certainly be a grueling next month-and-a-half.
“It’s more about the mental part,” the Union manager said. “This is still an inexperienced team. We have to go back to the routine we had at the beginning of the season.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @DaveZeitlin.