CHESTER, Pa. – One week after falling to 0-5-0 all-time at Red Bull Arena, the Philadelphia Union go to another proverbial house of horrors: Crew Stadium.
But this time, the Union – who sport an 0-3-0 all-time record in Columbus – hope to escape with a win when they square off against the host Crew on Saturday (5 pm ET, UniMas).
“It doesn’t matter what the venue is; we know it’s going to be hard,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “Columbus is a very difficult place for us. We hope to change that.”
Hackworth downplayed the idea that being winless – and pointless – in certain stadiums wears on his players’ psyches or adds any additional pressure. And the Union manager pointed to small sample sizes as one reason why these droughts exist.
Still, Hackworth mentioned that it’s something that the players are aware of and that some tough breaks have played a role in the winless streaks.
“We just try to approach it like any place,” Hackworth said. “We’re only four years old and part of us not having won in certain venues is due to the fact that we haven’t played there that much. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the guys know it hasn’t been going well for us. Last year, we felt like all the luck was against us.”
The last time the Union went to Columbus, they indeed dropped an unlucky 3-2 decision after Milovan Mirošević scored a controversial game-winning goal in the 87th minute in which he appeared to be offside.
Mirošević is no longer in Columbus but the Union have their eyes on Federico Higuaín, who’s off to a good start with one goal and one assist through four games.
The Union weren’t able to slow down Thierry Henry, who scored the game-winning goal vs. Philly last week. Philly now hopes stopping Higuaín will be their first step to getting their first result in another tough venue.
“With Higuaín, you have to contain him or you will be in for a long day,” Hackworth said. “We feel like our defense has been a strong point for us this year and we’ll continue to try and play with that kind of consistency. Much like we tried to focus our preparation on Henry, we’ll do that with Higuaín and try to do the best job possible to limit his opportunities to be impactful on the game.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.