Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By JOEL HOOVER
After two last gasp draws against FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake, and a disheartening road defeat to Houston, the Philadelphia Union were in need of three points from their weekend clash with Western Conference bottom-feeders Chivas USA.
Although the game was played in terrible weather conditions and saw Chivas take an early lead, the Union were able to rally for a vital 3-1 win and three big points. On the backs of their recent results, manager John Hackworth said that Friday’s win over Chivas “changed a lot” for the squad.
“In our previous three games, we felt like we had dropped some points,” Hackworth said. “That’s why Chivas was so important to us. It was great for the guys to battle back the way they did, regardless of what happened and the reasons why. In the end, I thought we were going to get that (win), and full credit to the players for handling that.”
The win keeps the Union in fourth place in the Eastern Conference of MLS on 30 points, one point behind both the Montreal Impact and New York Red Bulls and one point ahead of the Houston Dynamo. In addition to maintaining their position in the standings, the win was also a boost ahead of the Union’s upcoming match with Western Conference contenders Portland on Saturday.
With the win snapping their recent winless run, and with it coming amidst difficult circumstances with the weather, Hackworth says it does not change the importance of their match with Portland. However, it has eased the pressure on the Union ahead of the match and has put “smiles” on the faces of the players in training.
“It puts guys in a better frame of mind,” Hackworth said. “The guys are a little more relaxed and a little more confident.”
Here are some more notes from the Union’s weekly press conference:
CALIFF TRADE HAD BEEN CONSIDERED
Last week saw former Union captain and fan favorite Danny Califf retire from professional soccer after a playing career that stretched 14 years. The 33-year old defender retired as a member of Toronto FC after making just four appearances this season.
Califf spent two full seasons in Philadelphia, playing with the team from their inaugural season in 2010 all the way through his trade to Chivas USA in May 2012. With the Union lacking central defenders this season, there had been talk that Califf would return to Philadelphia in a trade. However, Hackworth says that nothing every materialized despite some negotiations.
“We talked to Toronto earlier in the year about trading for Danny,” Hackworth said, mentioning that it was not a simple process. “But in the last six weeks, there hasn’t been any discussion because we had no idea that he was going to retire.”
Califf made 65 appearances as a member of the Union, scoring one goal and being named the first captain in club history. In addition to the Union, Chivas, and Toronto, he also played club soccer with the Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes of MLS, and Aalborg BK and FC Midtjylland, both of Denmark. He also made 23 appearances for the United States national team, scoring one goal.
- Jack McInerney is set to return to the club on Thursday after being replaced on the USMNT Gold Cup roster, giving the Union a huge boost against a tough Portland Timbers opponent this Saturday.
- The Union’s entire squad–minus McInerney and Trinidad & Tobago call-up Keon Daniel–is back in training and healthy, though Hackworth reported that Michael Lahoud is still not 100% recovered from his ongoing hernia injury.
- Hackworth confirmed that he is suspended for one match following his ejection in the Chivas USA match. A Union spokesperson confirmed today that assistant Rob Vartughian will be head coach for the Union’s match with Portland.
What do you think of these notes? Is the Union’s form where it needs to be ahead of the big match with Portland? Would Danny Califf have been a boost to the Union defense? Do you see McInerney hitting the ground running now that he’s back with the Union?
Share your thoughts below.