Union can end slump vs. struggling ‘Quakes


Friday, April 29, 2011
Posted: 11 a.m.

By Ryan Bright
CSNPhilly.com Contributor

CHESTER, Pa. -- Two idle weeks removed from their heartbreaking, rain-soaked draw to the Seattle Sounders in extra time, the Union find themselves back in game action on Saturday at PPL Park. But with that kind of break slowing the momentum of their successful early season, the competition wont just be the San Jose Earthquakes, it will be against complacency, as well.

Its a very difficult game, said coach Peter Nowak. Its an important game for us after the two weeks to come back in a good fashion.

We need to be ready and not treat this game like they Earthquakes are in last place and it will be easy.

Im sure the players will be ready for it.

During the time off, Nowak had his squad working on fundamentals in order to kick start an offense that has only scored four goals in five games. However, with the Earthquakes coming in at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with a goal differential of minus-3, its a perfect time for the Union to turn on their goal-scoring engine, starting with Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux, who have been held scoreless. And with four games in the next 15 days, in which they will face the Portland Timbers away and L.A. Galaxy at home, Saturday becomes a golden opportunity for a crucial three points.

We tried to work on the things we felt that we needed to improve on, Nowak said, whose team is second in the Eastern Conference with 10 points. We treated the past week to try and correct mistakes and work on things that will improve our offensive play as well as keep our defensive shape.

It was good to have a couple days off, have some good workouts and get ready for another game. It was a good time to look back on the past five weeks and try to figure out the best way to stretch with the four games coming up.

One reason to be optimistic is the potential return of midfielder Brian Carroll, who went down with a hamstring injury on April 9 against the New York Red Bulls.

Brian Carroll is coming back from a hamstring injury and we are hopeful that he will be ready (for Saturday), said Nowak.

He is a very important piece of this team. Hes always in the background and doing his job. Hes shown he can stabilize the midfield and allow other guys to go forward because he can bring defensive play. Were very positive that he can join us this weekend.

The Earthquakes are coming off back-to-back losses to Chivas USA and the Red Bulls, in which they were outscored by a combined 5-1. But they arent a team to sleep on. Led by one of the leagues best strikers in Chris Wondolowski, who leads the team in points, the Earthquakes can put the ball in the net.

Theyve shown their team is capable of having great results, especially on the road, said Nowak, with regards to the Earthquakes 2010 trip to the MLS playoff semifinals. Last year they won in our stadium on an injury time goal, so they are capable of scoring goals and playing good football. They are a difficult opponent and well have to be ready for them.

One player who plays into that potency is Philadelphia-native and midfielder Bobby Convey, who scored an assist on the Earthquakes 2-1 win in Chester last season. The former Penn Charter player finished the 2010 campaign with 10 assists and had two goals and a helper in the post season.

Bobby has a quality that he showed last year when he came here, Nowak said. He can deliver the ball or score the ball like he showed in the playoffs.

Spreading the Doop
The goal song, affectionately known as Doop has become synonymous with the Union. The tune, actually called Maria (I Like It Loud) by Scooter, is as original as it is catchy. Starting with the opening home game of the NHLs Stanley Cup Playoffs, however, the Union werent the only team in town using the song to celebrate goalsthe Flyers jumped in on the action.

Ive been here (in Philadelphia) for four years and its always been the same goal song (Bro Hymn by Pennywise), said Flyers forward Danny Briere. So far its been only positive comments.

As the story goes, Briere heard the song and brought it to the attention of Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko, who contacted the Union about Doops usage. The green light was given to the Flyers so that the red light behind the oppositions net is celebrated in proper fashion.

E-mail Ryan Bright at ryanbright13@gmail.com

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