CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union are heading into Saturday’s showdown against the Montreal Impact at PPL Park (7:30 pm ET, MLS Live) with a fairly large chip on their shoulder.
Namely, the team is still bristling about a 5-1 loss to the New England Revolution this past Sunday – not only because of the big swing in the standings it created but because of how the defeat seemed to have been perceived from the outside.
Now, with the first-place Impact in town, they’re looking to make amends.
“I think sometimes perception becomes reality when people don’t see all the facts,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “I think our team right now is under a little bit of pressure from having a really tough result. And there’s certainly a lot of responsibility and accountability on our part. … At the same time, I don’t think there’s enough recognition that there’s a massive decision in that game that goes against us that changes everything.”
The massive decision Hackworth was referring to was a call that wiped away what would have been a go-ahead goal from Conor Casey, who the Union manager felt “was on the wrong end of a lot of decisions.” From there, the momentum completely shifted and the Revolution scored four straight goals to hand the Union their worst loss in franchise history.
“What happened in New England was something I’ve never been a part of,” Union right back Sheanon Williams said. “Almost going up 2-1 and to get it flipped on you like that is upsetting and bizarre. But we’ve been good about battling back all year and I think we’ll do the same.”
Indeed, the Union are an impressive 4-0-3 this season following losses. The most recent example of that kind of resiliency came earlier this month when the Union followed a 2-1 loss to Chicago with some chippiness in practice and then an important 2-0 win over D.C. United.
“Especially when you have a bad result, our guys like to go try to work out those frustrations and work out their problems in training,” Hackworth said. “That’s a good sign for any team. But ultimately, you just have to put [the loss] behind you, learn your lessons and improve on the things you didn’t do well the week before.”
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Interestingly enough, the only other time the Union (10-8-8) ever gave up five goals in one game before Sunday’s visit to New England was the last time they faced Montreal (12-7-5). And that 5-3 loss to the Impact on May 25 will also serve as motivation for Saturday’s contest.
“We expect to bounce back this week,” Williams said. “We’ve done that all season. We have a group of guys in this locker room that won’t turn on each other after a loss.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.