Postponing the Unions Sunday matchup with the New England Revolution to Sept. 7 at PPL Park, helped the squad avoid the wrath of Hurricane Irene. However, the skidding group wont be able to shed their seasonal turbulence until they get their next win.
We all know the pressure and sometimes, with a young and inexperienced team, its very difficult to overcome this pressure, said coach Peter Nowak, whose team has plummeted from first in the Eastern Conference to fourth place after just three points in their last five games. All we have to do is not look at the standings. Dont look at who is in front of us or who is behind us or how many games we have in hand. We just have to play the game one game at a time and we have to view things from this perspective for the 10 games we have left.
We need to put our feet on the ground and see what we can do to win the next game and not focus on things that are out of our control.
With the Revolution game pushed back, the Unions next contest will be against Western Conference side Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Sept. 3. But despite the tough upcoming road test, Nowak feels that his young team is read to break out of its slump as the downward swing has not been for lack of trying, but possibly cracking under the pressure of a tight conference race.
We all know there was a couple games we should have won, especially games where we got goals at the end of the games, Nowak said. As I said, we all know where we are and what kind of team we have. We have to focus. Its not that these guys arent trying, they are trying very hard. I feel bad for them as a coach because I know how much work they put into training, how many drills they do and how many reps they do. Sometimes if youre too focused or too stressed, you just miss. You hit a crossbar, post and you cant do anything about it. We tried to calm them down and make sure that if they have a chance, they wont think, Am I going to score or am I not going to score, itll be automatic. You cant hesitate.
Potentially helping the Union gain the confidence they need to arrive back on track was a 5-3 victory over USL affiliate the Harrisburg City Islanders at Skyline Sports Complex on Wednesday in friendly action. Trailing by two at the half, the Union, led by Ryan Richter, Justin Mapp, Roger Torres, Zach Pfeffer and trialist Joe Tait, came storming back, scoring five goals for the win.
I think it was a good training session for all of us, Nowak said. It was a good competitive match and with our schedule right now, we never know what will happen. It was good to play the game. The second half we did very well and created the chances to win the game."
But when asked if scoring five goals should help jump start the Union offense in MLS play, Nowak snapped that offense isnt what is keeping his team away from wins its a mix of energy and the killer instinct needed to finish the opposition.
Not scoring goals doesnt mean were not creating chances, said the coach, whose team does have six goals in its last five games. I strongly disagree in anyone saying we have offensive struggles. If you see the whole picture, what we dont like in the last four or five games is lacking the ability finish the games the right way.
And if the Union hope to stay relevant in the Eastern Conference picture, the right way has to be any way they can pull in three points.
E-mail Ryan Bright at firstname.lastname@example.org.