Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Union home opener on Saturday

The Union, coming off an impressive tie at Portland, hosts New England at PPL Park.

AFTER GIVING up the equalizing goal in the final seconds in the season opener against Portland last weekend, the Union is ready to open its fifth season at PPL Park and is hoping for a better result.

Tomorrow (4 p.m., Comcast SportsNet), the Union will host the New England Revolution, which was hammered by Houston, 4-0, in its opener.

The teams met in a preseason game in early February and played to a 1-1 tie. Since then, the Union has been able to develop its revamped team.

Despite New England's opening-game loss, Union manager John Hackworth understands the challenges the Revolution presents. One player the Philadelphia defense must mark closely is 19-year-old forward Diego Fagundez, who led the Revolution with 13 goals in 2013.

"New England is a good team, and I think what they do well is their front five has a ton of ability. They have a ton of attacking players and they're good," Hackworth said. "You have to deal with that and be the team that understands essentially how to really handle it.

"You can't really have those ball rushes because if you do, a team like New England is going to make you pay for those, and we experienced that last year. They've always been a difficult opponent for us to play and I think you're going to see two teams that are very attack-oriented going at it."

Although many did not believe the Union could escape Portland with one point, they surprised many by leading the Timbers for more than 92 minutes, into extra time. In the 93rd minute, a defensive slip allowed Portland to tie, 1-1.

"It was a good first game for us," midfielder Maurice Edu said. "I think we started off the season on the right foot in terms of establishing how we want to play. We set the tone early and made an impression early, and we also pressured the ball, moved off the ball and possessed the ball well so I thought it was a good game for us. Obviously we wish we could take three points from that game but there were a lot of positives that came from that game and we can look to build off of that game during the season."

Despite a disappointing ending that ultimately felt like a loss for a few Union players, coming home with a decision before the home opener was a step in the right direction.

The Union does not feel the need to change anything coming off its season-opening draw.

"I don't know if we need to do anything differently," forward Jack McInerney said. "I think if we come out with the same game plan, we can have similar results. Overall we defended pretty well and attacked very well too, so hopefully we will see that turn into a two- or three-goal victory on Saturday."

McInerney, who scored the Union's goal in Portland, is hoping to add to his total by scoring in the team's home opener. While it would be hard to match the early success McInerney had in 2013, when he scored seven goals in the first 10 games, the young forward is trying to take advantage of every opportunity he gets.

"I think it's just about putting myself in good places," McInerney said. "I had a couple of opportunities in Portland and I was able to take advantage of one. Last year, I was able to do the same thing and if I keep putting myself in those positions, I think the results will be good. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing and the goals will come."

Like McInerney, Edu will be in search of his scoring touch in his first home game as a member of the Union. Upon joining the Union on Jan. 27, Edu said the home opener was a game he was looking forward to among the team's 34 regular-season games.

"Since I signed I've been looking forward to the home opener and now it is here and this whole week we have been preparing for this," Edu said. "I'm excited to get out there in front of the fans, score some goals and hear that 'Doop' song. It should be a good time."

Injury update

John Hackworth said forward Connor Casey (calf) is back in training and may return for the team's home opener. Hackworth added that defender Sheanon Williams (quadriceps) was not yet back in training and hopes his recovery comes "sooner rather than later."