Union try to carry success on road vs. fast Timbers


Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Posted: 7:20 p.m.

By Ryan Bright
CSNPhilly.com Contributor

WAYNE, Pa. -- Over the first six games of the season, the Union have successfully flexed their home muscle, winning three and tying once at PPL Park in an upward swing to the top tier of the Eastern Conference standings.

But to stay there, the second-year team has to prove their mettle on the road against an active Western Conference opponent in the Portland Timbers on Friday night at Jeld-Wen Field.

They definitely have confidence right now, said coach Peter Nowak of the Timbers. For us, its continuing to play the way we have and make sure The Timbers stay off our goal and our box. Then, for us to still have ability to go forward and score some goals.

The Timbers, an expansion club, are one of the better home squads in the MLS with all three of their wins coming in Portland. They are 0-3-1 on the road. According to Nowak, whose team is 1-1 away from Chester this season, one reason for the Timbers home efficiency is that they take advantage of having a small field.

Its a little bit too small and when you watch games they play at home, its like pinball, said the coach, who practiced his squad indoors at the teams training facility, YSC Sports. We have to figure out good plan for that, which is why we train here at YSC, to have similar conditions. We had a couple of good days here to adjust to the turf because its completely different.

What also makes them dangerous is that on the small field, led by forwards Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza, the Timbers are fast to strike.

Perlaza and Kenny Cooper both have speed and Kenny has a great shot from distance, said Nowak. They have speed.

On the other side, the Union will get a boost from some returning players. Facing the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, which resulted in a 1-0 victory, Nowak sat out midfielders Justin Mapp and Brian Carroll, who are both are recovering from hamstring injuries. Midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi came on late in the contest despite a calf injury. The added depth helps gives the Union more roster options just in time, as they have to tackle three games in the next eight days.

Justin Mapp is back after hamstring injury, Brian Carroll is back after his hamstring injury, Stefani Miglioranzi is back as well, said Nowak. We have options to shuffle every couple days and make sure guys are ready not only for the first game but also the game after. Last thing we want is to burn players out. We have to have stability in midfield, but also give guys time so that they are not burned after three games. Need them all on Monday ready to run.

The Union offense, which seemed to be fighting itself for much of the season, began to come alive against the Earthquakes, with last years leading scorer, Sebastien Le Toux, scoring his first on a game-winning penalty kick. Although it still resulted in a 1-0 win, the teams fourth of the same score, the offense appeared to open up and find the chemistry it so desperately lacked in the early going.

However, despite the gained confidence and the healthy roster, the Union will have to fill the hole generated by defender Jordan Harveys absence. Harvey earned a controversial red card in the first half against the Earthquakes, which automatically suspends him for the next game in Portland. Originally looking to dispute the card, the Union backed off, accepting the discipline. When asked about who would fill in for Harvey, Nowak wouldnt commit, but singled out twin brothers Gabriel and Michael Farfan as strong possibilities.

Michael Farfan came in and gave us a lot offensively and defensively, which was very good to see, said Nowak, with regards to Michael making his first MLS start against the Earthquakes. His brother plays left back, so a little competition going on. Its good for the team. Both travel, both ready to play. Well see how they get this stuff done on Friday.

E-mail Ryan Bright at ryanbright13@gmail.com

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