Even though the Philadelphia Union’s playoff aspirations have been long crushed, it doesn’t mean they won’t have a reason to play. Just ask Sporting KC who struggled – at home no less – to contain the Union’s attack throughout the second half of their Wednesday night encounter.
Now imagine how inspired they will be to perform against the Red Bulls?
“I think they are going to have a go,” Thierry Henry said. “I think to play for them, we still don’t know what is going to happen for us in the playoffs, but if you saw (Wednesday), they gave Kansas City a go. They had a decent game. We all know they are going to make it hard for us.”
“I’m expecting the same sort of game (the Union’s performance on Wednesday),” Tim Cahill added. “I thought Philly were excellent. They move the ball well, and they pressed for a half hour, especially at the end of the game.”
Head Coach Hans Backe agreed with his veteran leaders. “They destroyed Kansas for 30 minutes and could have easily won that game,” he said. “We know how difficult it is to play in Philadelphia.”
It wasn’t just their performance against Kansas City that has New York on their toes. Their last encounter at PPL this May featured a n Henry-less Red Bulls earning their first victory in Philadelphia against a hard nose, ten-man Union side.
“When we went there and even with ten men they should have won the game,” Henry noted. “It looked like they were really going to enjoy that game that day.”
With regional bragging rights up for grabs, and the ability to crush New York’s playoff aspirations, the Union will certainly have more motivation to perform at home against their closest rivals.
“It’s a derby,” Henry admitted. “It’s special for the fans when we go there. Also for them. If they can manage to make sure we finish fifth, they are going to try to do it. You never actually play for nothing. I am sure some of the guys there want to make sure they want to stay in Philly or want to prove a point. You never actually play for nothing.”
“We shouldn’t be too overly confident,” Cahill cautioned. “The main game is against Philly – we can look forward to that. Just take it one game at a time. Lets don’t get carried away. Lets just take it a game at a time and see what we can do.”