May 23, 2014 by Brian PalmerComing off an up-and-down week, the Philadelphia Union soccer team heads into the May 25 road match against the Los Angeles Galaxy filled with uncertainty. On May 14, the Union team and manager John Hackworth came away with a crucial 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park. The Union played the game without starting midfielders Maurice Edu and Brian Carroll.
Sporting KC was riding a nine-match victory streak going into the game. Sporting KC and the Union played a scoreless first half. However, early in the second half Philadelphia’s Danny Cruz received a great pass from Cristian Maidana, which he slotted in the goal past Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.
While the Union controlled much of the second half after Cruz’s goal, in the 81st minute substitute Dom Dwyer equalized for the defending champions. In soccer, they say you are most vulnerable after scoring a goal. The adage proved to be true as Maidana scored 30 seconds after Dwyer’s goal. Maidana hit a curling shot around an onrushing Sporting KC defender and goalie Kronberg to secure the victory for the Union.
“I’m really happy; it was a gutsy team effort,”Maidana said through a translator after the match. “This goal was for my family and for all of the fans that always support me, but mostly for the coach who believed in me from the first moment I got here.”
While the Union got a much-needed victory against Sporting KC, they did not continue this trend against the New England Revolution May 17. The Union were involved in an eight-goal affair that saw them lose 5-3 at home.
The Revolution were coming off a 5-0 thrashing of the Seattle Sounders earlier in the week and continued their good form as a pair of goals from New England’s A.J. Soares and Diego Fagundez within the first 30 minutes helped seal Philadelphia’s fate.
Union midfielder Vincent Nogueira drilled home a goal in the 36th minute to pull Philadelphia back within one, but the second half saw New England pull away. Lee Nguyen, Chris Tierney, and rookie Patrick Mullins all scored within 25 minutes of the second half.
Despite late goals from Sheanon Williams and Sebastien Le Toux, the Union failed to pick up their second home victory of the season.
“It is really frustrating to lose again at home and to give up that many goals; it’s upsetting,”Cruz said after the match. “We said that Wednesday [the win over Sporting Kansas City] means nothing if we come out and do what we did today. We are unhappy and everyone is frustrated, but three games in seven days is extremely tough, bodies are tired …and that’s not an excuse, it’s just the reality.”
The poor start to the season has fueled speculation that manager John Hackworth’s job is on the line if the team’s performance doesn’t improve. After the Sporting KC match several players spoke up in support of their manager.
“We’re behind him and he knows we are behind him,” Cruz said in his postgame press conference.
The Union will look to improve on their two victories of the season against the Los Angeles Galaxy May 25. Both the Union and Galaxy have struggled this season. It will be a game between two teams looking to get a desperate result and salvage their season before it gets out of hand.