CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union have only played twice in Seattle. It just so happens that they were two of the club’s most memorable contests.
In 2010, the Union played their first game in franchise history at CenturyLink Field, and last year they earned perhaps their best road win in franchise history on the same field, upsetting the Sounders 2-0 in an October game that basically propelled them into the MLS Cup Playoffs.
They hope the latter will give them a boost as they prepare for their third trip to CenturyLink Field on Saturday, taking on host Seattle in a nationally televised showdown (4:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com).
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“Last year we went out there and had an excellent game,” said Union assistant coach John Hackworth, who will be filling in for suspended manager Peter Nowak for the second straight game. “It was a game that was pivotal for us and at a point of the year that it was important for us to make a push for the playoffs. I don’t think a lot of people gave us a chance to go out there and get a result but we did.”
Last year’s result was a surprising one both because Seattle was one of the league’s best teams and because the Union had never before won a game on the West Coast.
The Union (2-4-1) have fared better out west of late and will be going for their second straight win there after beating Chivas USA two weeks ago. But the Sounders (5-1-1) remain one of the league’s best teams with one of the toughest home-field advantages. They’re coming off an impressive 2-0 home win over the defending champion Galaxy on Wednesday.
“It’s an incredible place to play,” Union captain Danny Califf said. “They pack 36,000 in there all the time and it’s really loud. Seattle is a good team, so I think we’ll try to use our success last year as a confidence-builder and try to do some of the same things we did last year to get the win this year.”
One thing the Union did in last year’s win in Seattle that they haven’t been able to do this season is score multiple goals. In fact, through seven contests this year, the offensively starved Union are barely even averaging more than two shots on target per game.
Leading up to Saturday’s game, Hackworth talked about Philly’s players needing the courage to take more shots – something they didn’t do in last weekend’s disappointing 2-1 loss to San Jose at PPL Park. The Union coach also talked about taking the frustration from that defeat to the Earthquakes with them to Seattle – and then trying to squash it.
“When we lost the way we lost, everyone in that locker room believes that was an unjust result,” Hackworth said. “It was stolen away from us. When you have that feeling, really what you have to do is go out and play again so you can right the wrong.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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