LOOKING TO GET back in the win column, the Union will visit Red Bull Arena for an Eastern Conference battle against the winless New York Red Bulls at 7 o'clock tonight.
More than a month ago, the Union earned its only victory of the season, a 1-0 win over visiting New England. Since then, the Union is 0-1-3, with three draws in its last three games.
Like the Union, the Red Bulls have come close to winning multiple times, with four straight draws sandwiched by an opening 4-1 loss to Vancouver and a 1-0 loss to D.C. United.
Despite New York's 0-2-4 record, Union manager John Hackworth knows his team must play hard for 90 minutes to earn points on the road.
"It's interesting, because I think they are a team that everybody around the league respects, and, on paper, they have a lot of quality and they have some world class players," Hackworth said yesterday, referring to Red Bulls' slow start this season.
"I think within their own team they think they are playing well. And yet, similar to us, they have given up goals in inopportune times, numerous restarts, and they've given up several penalty kicks. So I think they're feeling like they've played better than their results show, and that's a little bit scary because they are a team that is highly motivated and hungry to get their first win, particularly at home. I think, like a lot of teams in this league right now, it's still early in the year, and it's not a finished product yet."
Tonight's is the Union's second game in 5 days, part of a stretch in which it plays three times in 8 days. Hackworth thinks his team is deep enough to handle this string of games, which includes a home game Saturday against Houston.
"I've said this before, that I like our depth this year, and it allows us to give guys rest. Previously, we might not have been able to do that," Hackworth said. "I think these three games are a good chance for us to do that."
New York will look to reverse its fortunes against the Union, just as it did last season after going winless in its first four games. On March 30, 2013, the Union allowed a late goal in the 81st minute to give the Red Bulls their first win of the season. The teams each won once last season and also played to a scoreless tie.
"It proves that we can go up there and get a result," Hackworth said. "We had a couple chances up there before, and we've felt like we played well and we gave up goals late and lost all the points. So hopefully the group of guys that are returning to Red Bull Arena will feel like it's not impossible for us to get a result up there.
"Again, we are trying to concentrate on what we need to improve on. We know we are going to face a quality Red Bull team, and it's going to be difficult, but we are looking forward to it."