CHESTER, Pa. – The Philadelphia Union are very much aware of the fact that they’ve never won at Crew Stadium.
They’re also aware of what they need to do differently to snap that skid when they go back to Columbus to take on the Crew on Saturday (6 pm ET; MLS Live).
“I think in the past we obviously didn’t have as much talent, and going in there we kind of sat back,” Union striker Jack McInerney told MLSsoccer.com. “I think with what we have now, we can go in there and we can attack. I know last year we were up 1-0 and gave up a late goal. I think this year if we go in and push them, we’ll eventually break them.”
A franchise original, McInerney was with the Union for their first three losses in Columbus and scored the team’s only goal in a 1-1 road draw with Columbus last year.
But even though that goal helped the Union pick up their first-ever point at Crew Stadium, they still let the win slip away when they allowed a second-half equalizer from Dominic Oduro.
“For whatever reason, it has been a difficult place for us to play over the first four years,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “All I can tell you is that we don’t really think about those things. We feel like we’re a team that right now has to go out and continually prove that we are capable of performing at the same level we have the last two weeks. And if we do that, I think we’ll put ourselves in a good position to be successful in that game.”
The Union will certainly bring a much different team to Columbus than they have in years past. Led by newcomers Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira and Cristian Maidana, the Union (1-0-1) have yet to trail this season and already picked up a tough road point in Portland.
Is Hackworth surprised at how well his team has come together heading into their third game of the year?
“Is it cocky if I say no?” Hackworth responded. “I think it’s interesting.”
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Hackworth recalled a conversation he had with former Union captain Danny Califf, who stopped in on a training session earlier in the week to say hello.
“And Danny asked me the same question,” Hackworth said. “I said, ‘Look, a lot of what we established in the first year within our locker room – a culture if you will, a way of doing things, a way of working – has continued. There was a little blip there for a while, but we have a core group of guys in that locker room that have been there the entire time.”
And those returning players now hope to accomplish something they never have before: win at Crew Stadium.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten the fixtures to go our way there,” full back Ray Gaddis said. “But hopefully with this group, it will be a great time for the tide to turn.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.