CHESTER, Pa. -- Marked by disappointment, the end of the Union’s season is in sight. Only a win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at PPL Park, matched with losses by the New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo will open the playoff door.
Yet, while reaching the postseason would be an Eastern Conference miracle in the final regular-season game, the Union are taking solace in even the dimmest of hope.
“So you’re saying we have a chance,” Union manager John Hackworth said. “We need help from people on Sunday, but we have to take care of business on Saturday. We have to get three points and we have to beat a very good Sporting Kansas City team. It allows us to focus on what we can do and not on anybody else.”
After losing to the Montreal Impact on the road last Saturday in what amounted to the Union’s last stand for the postseason, all seemed lost. And for the most part, it is. But like they have done all year in tough spots, the Union are putting the blinders on and pressing forward, hoping that good fortune makes up for their faults.
“I like that it means something and I think that our players like that it means something,” Hackworth said. “I told our players and staff earlier this week that I’ve faced many different scenarios that have been worse than the current scenario we’re faced with.
“I’m thankful that I’ve gone through those scenarios where I felt the room and ceiling was caving in and there was no way out. Yet, we found a way out. And every time you do that as a coach, it instills that belief that as long as you have hope and as long as you’re playing for something, it’s massive.”
In desperate need of three points against a 16-10-7 Sporting KC team aiming for the Supporters' Shield for the best MLS record, the Union will need to bring heavy offense and deliver on Saturday.
But they need to do it with tact.
“We obviously have to do the things that we do every game and be safe, but obviously, we have to win," Union defender Sheanon Williams said. "We can’t be taking our time and wasting time the whole game. We absolutely need to win and we know that. The only way for us to even think about playoffs is winning the game. We’ll definitely do our best, I guess trying to gamble safely, which sounds stupid, but we can’t throw all caution to the wind and go down two goals. That’s not going to help us. We need to do it smartly.”