The Philadelphia Union are on a magnificent run in their last four games, garnering eight out of a possible twelve points. Two huge wins (literally, with seven goals!) against nearby rivals NYRB and D.C. United combined with two ties from the Montreal and LA Galaxy games have the boys in blue on quite a roll.
During this unbeaten streak the Union have managed to keep a clean sheet in three of the games, all while outscoring their opponents 10-3. Those three goals allowed all came in the second half during the epic implosion against the Montreal Impact.
Encouragingly the goals scored have come in all type of ways: off turnovers, penalties, set pieces, even from the run of play, which is something the team couldn’t do earlier in the season and seemingly at all last year.
Having said all that, the Union are about to get a huge test, one that I believe could define the season.
During the next three games the Union will face three straight Western Conference teams, with the U needing a minimum of seven points in order to give themselves the best opportunity to make the playoffs. Ordinarily taking on our Western Conference foes is a fearsome prospect, but right now two of the next three opponents (Colorado and Real Salt Lake) are currently occupying the last two places in the standings.
The third, happens to be the first place Houston Dynamo. Andrew Wenger and chums are coming off a Friday game where they beat Vancouver at home, but they remain winless on the road. Facing three games in eight days with a swift turnaround to play Atlanta on Saturday, it is likely that Houston will rest some of their starters against The U.
Now before we all start dreaming of a glorious return to the top of the standings (remember those days, guys?) expecting a win against Houston might not be too realistic given the fact that the Dynamo are in the midst of their very own hot streak. Winning nine out of twelve points, the only blemish in their last four outings was against Toronto FC, but… Everyone’s losing against them.
Just like the Union, the Dynamo have outscored their opponents 10-3 in their last four games, including two clean sheets.
The Dynamo boasts the MLS’ leading scorer in Erick Torres (Sapong is only one goal behind), and Alex, currently in second place on the assist charts.
Shutting down such a high powered offense is unlikely (even with a seemingly resurgent André Blake between the sticks) but I would be more than happy with a tie. With the Union averaging 3.5 goals per in their last two games maybe a 2-2 draw is doable.
Colorado at home on Saturday and a pathetic Real Salt Lake away should be easily attainable wins. Colorado has won once in their last seven games, and Real Salt Lake has been out-scored 13-1 in their last four games.
As long as the Union team that we’ve seen in the last three games shows up, seven points should be easy enough to get, girding our loins for a tough June, where four straight Eastern Conference rivals await.