The Philadelphia Union are one point out of the top spot in the
Eastern Conference. They’d likely be in first place if they fared a
bit better out west.
The Union again look to shake their road woes against teams on
the other side of the continent when they face the San Jose
Earthquakes on Saturday night.
Philadelphia (7-4-6) is right on the heels of East-leading New
York, thanks to an MLS-best 5-0-4 home record. The Union haven’t
had as much success on the road, however, going 2-4-2, and they’ve
yet to earn a point in the Pacific time zone.
Philadelphia has lost all three games out west this season – to
Los Angeles, Portland and Vancouver – by 1-0 scores. It went 0-3-1
in the Pacific time zone as an expansion team last year.
“We can’t use travel as an excuse,” midfielder Amobi Okugo told
the Union’s official website. “We’ve been traveling all of our
lives as soccer players. We just have to come out with the right
mindset and not be scared to play on the road.
“We did well on the road against D.C., so we hope to get a point
or three if we can.”
Philadelphia opened a three-game road swing with a 2-all draw
against United last Saturday. Carlos Ruiz helped the Union salvage
a point by scoring his fifth goal in the 84th minute.
“It feels good for us to go down twice and have the character to
come back out and tie the game up,” defender Danny Califf said.
Philadelphia’s mettle will be tested again Saturday, as it must
move forward without a key defender that has helped the club
surrender a conference-low 16 goals.
The Union traded Jordan Harvey to the Whitecaps on Thursday in
exchange for allocation money. Harvey had played in 16 games and
was sixth on the team with 1,241 minutes.
The new-look Union defense will get its first test against a San
Jose team that has been shut out three times in its last four
games. The Earthquakes (5-6-6) lost 2-0 on the road to Chivas USA
on Wednesday and fell 1-0 at Philadelphia on April 30.
San Jose had few offensive chances Wednesday and finished with
three shots on goal, its lowest total since recording three in a
2-1 win over New England on May 21.
“It’s frustrating when you lose and you’re a forward and you
don’t get many,” said Chris Wondolowski, who has a team-best six
goals. “We just need to connect those passes. We need to try to do
the little things a lot better.”
Adding to the misery, San Jose lost right back Steven Beitashour
to a right leg injury Wednesday, and he’s uncertain for this match.
Forward Steven Lenhart won’t play due to yellow card
Lenhart has been one of the few bright spots on offense for the
Earthquakes, tallying five goals in his last six games.