CHESTER, Pa. – For a team coming off a 2-1 Sunday night loss at home to the Houston Dynamo in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, the Philadelphia Union sure don't sound defeated.
That’s because Thursday night’s second leg shifts to Robertson Stadium in Houston, where the Union have played twice in their history and won on both occasions.
Last year Philly got their first ever road win with a dramatic 3-2 victory on a Danny Mwanga stoppage-time goal, while this year it was defender Danny Califf who scored after five minutes. It was enough for a road win in the opening match of the 2011 season.
“We won there twice already as a franchise and we know we can win there,” Califf said. “So I think we have all the confidence that we can go there and win. If not 2-0, we’ll take it and we’ll go into overtime and take our chances.”
“It’s just our fault, it’s not them who put us in difficulties,” Sébastien Le Toux said. “We gave them the space and we have to really watch video and see what we can do better. I know we can beat this team and we already proved it. Now it’s on us to play. I don’t think it’s because of them [we lost]. It’s because of us.”
A loss may not be the worst thing, according to Philadelphia manager Peter Nowak, who is now banking on a new team dynamic to take shape for the trip to Houston.
“It may be good for this team to go into the second leg not feeling the pressure to defend a 1-1 tie or a 1-0 goal difference,” Nowak said. “So it maybe is a good thing that the pressure is off right now and we have nothing to lose going into Houston.”
Added Union goalkeeper Faryd Mondragón, “We have to forget now this game and focus on Thursday. It’s a final and if they were able to win here, we can win there.”
As far as the Dynamo are concerned, the last thing they’re thinking about is the fact that Philly have two regular-season wins all-time at Robertson Stadium. All that matters to them is the 2-1 aggregate-goal lead they currently carry into Thursday night’s match.
“We know that they’re going to come and throw guys forward and push the game because they have to,” Houston midfielder Brad Davis said. “If we can put another team performance together like we did tonight but keep a little more possession, I think we’re going to be just fine.”