Ever since Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo in the first game of the Major League Soccer two-game aggregate goal Eastern Conference semifinal series, Union defender Danny Califf has been telling his teammates that the deficit is far from insurmountable.
Califf should know.
The veteran central defender has been passing on his personal experience to his teammates even though it's a little painful to recap.
In 2003 while with the Los Angeles Galaxy, Califf's team beat San Jose, 2-0, in the opening game of the Western Conference two-game aggregate goal series.
In the second game, the Galaxy had a 2-0 lead after scoring the second goal in the 13th minute. So that meant Los Angeles owned a 4-0 lead in goals.
San Jose then scored four goals in regulation and another in overtime for a stunning 5-2 win and a 5-4 advantage in total goals.
"It was pretty crazy, but that goes to show that while something may seem impossible, it's not," Califf said. "We [the Union] talked about it as a group a couple of different times and certainly the guys who have been around the playoff understand we can certainly advance."
The Union visit Houston's Robertson Stadium for the second game, at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Change of pace
When the Union are looking for more offense, they often turn to Roger Torres. The 20-year-old midfielder from Colombia started nine games in the regular season but was used more as a spark off the bench.
On Sunday he entered the game in the 68th minute and immediately added punch to the lineup.
Torres didn't play the full 90 minutes in any game this season. The Union believe that with his 5-foot-5, 140-pound frame, he wears down.
He has become a fan favorite, and the energy he brings the team has been invaluable. During the regular season he had three goals and two assists.
"I will do whatever it takes to help the team," Torres said through an interpreter. "When I come in I want to bring energy to the field."
Torres said the important thing is to be prepared when his number is called. As with most of his teammates, he will enter Thursday's game feeling good about the Union's chances to make up that one-goal deficit.
"We have a good locker room and a lot of leadership," he said. "We all know we are capable of winning and advancing to the next round."
While this is the Union's second season and first trip to the playoffs, Houston won consecutive MLS championships in 2006 and 2007 and has an impressive postseason record at Robertson Stadium. Houston is 5-1 all-time in home playoff games, winning three conference semifinal series with home wins in the second games. The other wins came in conference championship games.