Toronto FC-Union Preview
The Philadelphia Union are looking to improve their position in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
Their upcoming schedule seems to present that opportunity.
The Union look to begin capitalizing on an advantageous two-game stretch when they host Toronto FC on Saturday night.
Philadelphia (11-10-9) is among five teams vying for at least one of the two wild-card spots in the East with four games left.
The Union would seem to have a good chance to strengthen their hopes in the next two contests, as they'll face Toronto (5-15-11) and league-worst D.C.
Philadelphia is also coming off a gutsy 1-0 win at Kansas City last weekend, ending a five-game win drought despite being outshot 19-8.
Coach John Hackworth, though, realizes a different mindset is needed against Toronto, which hasn't reached the playoffs in six years of its existence.
"I think tactically we have to approach the game a little bit differently," Hackworth told the team's official website. "(Against Kansas City) we were the underdog, and quite honestly, we're pretty good in that role. But this week people are going to say we're at home, that we have to win to keep pace with the playoff race.
"The pressure is truly on us this week, but that's OK, because I think anybody in our locker room would want it that way with four games to play."
Despite being regarded as the favorite against TFC, the Union have settled for 1-all draws in each of the last three meetings - one at home April 13.
Philadelphia needed a goal in stoppage time from Jack McInerney to salvage the tie in the latest matchup June 1.
That's the last time McInerney managed to find the net, a stretch of 13 games. The drought is a big reason why he's been used as a substitute the last two games despite being tied with Conor Casey on a team-leading 10 goals.
Casey ended his own goal drought of five games by scoring against Kansas City.
Toronto is looking to build on its own impressive result, beating D.C. 4-1 last Saturday to match the franchise scoring record.
Bright Dike had one of the goals against United, his first in four games after being acquired in a trade with Toronto last month.
"I'm just happy to be playing and to get the three points," Dike told the team's official website. "It is definitely a good feeling. We have to keep it going now. Hopefully we can start stringing together some performances like that, and become a better and more consistent team at the end of this year and next year."
A strong finish to the season would make Toronto a key spoiler. After facing Philadelphia, TFC will visit Chicago on Oct. 19 before concluding the season against visiting Montreal a week later. All three of those teams are in the postseason chase.