Philadelphia Union interim manager John Hackworth has a simple plan against a LA Galaxy side that has scored three goals in each of its past three games.
“To not let them score three goals against us,” he said.
How to execute that plan when the cross-country foes square off Wednesday night at The Home Depot Center (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online) will be decidedly less simple.
“Any time you’ve got to deal with Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane at the same time, you’re going to have your hands full,” Hackworth said. “You’ve got two international players at the top of their game right now. But you also have to deal with Mike Magee, who’s always one of those guys in this league that’s been fantastic. They have a number of guys on their team who can hurt you.”
PREVIEW: Philly on Wednesday's clash vs. LA
There are, however, a couple of things working in Philly’s favor. For starters, LA midfield maestro David Beckham will be suspended for the game due to yellow-card accumulation – which certainly bodes well for a Union team that has struggled, at times, to defend free kicks.
And despite their 3-9-2 record, the Union have actually been a consistently strong defensive team this season. They’ve only given up 17 goals, which ranks second in the league.
The Union’s backline is also relatively healthy, as right back Sheanon Williams returned from a broken toe in Saturday’s otherwise disappointing 2-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo.
“Our defense has been pretty good,” Hackworth said. “We know we have a little bit of a challenge here for sure. We’re not happy with the fact that we gave up one legitimate goal against Houston and one very questionable goal.
“But our defense is playing well and if we correct the things we didn’t do well Saturday night, we feel like we’re in a good position to get a result here in LA.”
McInerney set to return
Against Houston this past Saturday, Hackworth didn’t start three players who had been key to the team’s offensive success in recent weeks: Freddy Adu, Michael Lahoud and Jack McInerney.
Lahoud and Adu were rested because of the Union’s grueling schedule, while McInerney – who had scored three goals in the club’s last three fixtures – was forced to sit out because of an illness.
But against the Galaxy, all three appear poised to return to the lineup.
“Jack Mac is good,” Hackworth said. “He is over the stomach bug that he had. It’s unfortunate that it happened to him at that time, but it gave an opportunity to Jorge Perlaza, who we planned on playing in one of these two games anyway. Now Jack Mac is back and we expect him to be ready on Wednesday night.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.