CHESTER, Pa. – Last Wednesday, a very familiar story unfolded for the Philadelphia Union.
Fresh off a massive 1-0 win against the Chicago Fire on Sept. 11, momentum was high and a midweek trip to the West Coast to face the San Jose Earthquakes would serve as a good measuring stick for the Union to gauge where they were really at.
Fast-forward to the end of the game at Buck Shaw Stadium and Philadelphia were walking off the field disheartened and downtrodden after losing 1-0 to the Quakes. It began as a match the Eastern Conference bottom-toilers could have won, and ended as one they’d like to forget.
WATCH: FULL HIGHLIGHTS: SJ 1, PHI 0
Thankfully, that match is behind the Union and, by the time they face Chivas USA on Saturday, they will have had 10 full days to regroup. That break should allow them to prepare mentally and physically before heading into the final stretch.
With the ultimate goal of making the playoffs becoming more and more difficult to attain, Philadelphia need to worry about ending the season in a positive manner even if they don't make it into the post-season.
Union manager Peter Nowak’s other goals should be to continue to work his young players into the game as much as possible, with guys like Jack McInerney and Amobi Okugo taking precedence over guys like Alejandro Moreno and Stefani Miglioranzi.[inline_node:315969]
There are still six games remaining in the 2010 season and the Union can accomplish a lot in those matches. Sebastien Le Toux still has a hand in the MVP race as his amazing season continues; Danny Mwanga is a favorite for Rookie of the Year and has a good shot at nabbing the honor as long as his strong play continues; and the team now goes on the hunt for a second clean sheet after finally registering the first against Chicago.
Looking at the Chivas match, the Union could be seen as the favorite given their form and the fact that Martín Vásquez’ side have struggled of late, picking up only two wins in league play since defeating the Colombus Crew on July 31.
With Brad Knighton presumably in goal again for Philadelphia, they should have every chance of getting a victory. The defense has also come together over the last few weeks and has looked strong in front of their 'keeper, whether it’s been Chris Seitz or Knighton, allowing only three goals in their last five games.
Little-Noticed Observation of the Week
Union defender Michael Orozco Fiscal has been playing much, much better. Usually deployed as a fullback, the versatile defender was slotted into the middle for the last two matches – the first time in a long while – and performed admirably.
Union Player of the Week
Though Philadelphia may have lost to San Jose, Le Toux had another solid game. The French forward’s form and flair have proven almost too much to handle for a lot of teams this season and San Jose were lucky he didn’t get the Union on the board in the match.
Nowak-ism of the Week
After the loss to San Jose, Nowak decided not to address the reporters. Instead, he let his assistant, John Hackworth, handle the media responsibilities. Nowak has talked after losses before, so the result wasn’t necessarily a factor. Nevertheless, Hackworth is just as informed and well-spoken as the team manager and the switch gave him some time in the spotlight.