Friday, July 1, 2011
Posted: 10 a.m.
By Ryan Bright
CHESTER, Pa. With a grip on the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the Union have few complaints as they sit up on their winning perch, 16 games into the season.
However, staring down the barrel of a three-game road swing, coach Peter Nowak understands the obstacles ahead and is curious to see if his squad has what it takes to shrug satisfaction aside, stay hungry and pass the tricky road test.
You can see that the quality is there, Nowak said. Now its if we need more and do we wish to have more. What are we going to do after this? Are we going to be satisfied and say were better than last year or push for whatever is waiting for us? Thats what the coaching staff is trying to get through to the players.
Nowak continued, saying that the difference between the teams success in the past and into the second half of the season will come down to a gluttonous mindset to drive to keep pushing for more result points.
In our minds and the players minds is the question is now that we have the wins, what are we going to do after that? Nowak said. We found a great group of players that believe we can do something special, and I hope and wish to continue this way.
The initial test of hunger for the Union begins on Saturday at RFK Stadium against conference foe DC United. Owning a 4-5-6 record and in the lower echelon of the group, the United made waves on Tuesday by trading midfielder Dax McCarty to the New York Red Bulls for noted striker Dwayne De Rosario.
Hes very unpredictable, said Nowak about De Rosario, who had two goals with the Red Bulls. He can pop up in some different spots, and this is how the teams he played for created an advantage. Its difficult dealing with him. Hes mobile and has a great shot from distance. You have to be aware of the qualities he brings to the table. Hes a very dangerous player.
Along with De Rosario, the United possess one of the best scorers in the MLS, Charlie Davies, who leads the team and is tied for the league lead in goals with eight. Davies was listed as questionable for Saturday with a sprained ankle, but could still dress.
You can see DC has options now going forward, said Nowak. We have to be prepared for that.
The Union are coming off a back-and-forth home battle with Chivas USA, which they won, 3-2. Decided on a late goal from Danny Mwanga, the contest was one of character that could propel a teams momentum forward.
It was an emotional roller coaster, thats for sure, said Nowak. I think, for us, it was important to see what we can do. There was a couple things we needed to sort out, but Ive been happy with the direction we are going.
The victory pushed the Union two points ahead of the Red Bulls for the top spot in the conference with a record of 7-4-5. But despite the impressive overall record, the second-year team holds a moderate road record of 2-4-1. The key for finding a road result, according to Nowak, is not conceding an early goal and pushing the pace.
Itll be important to not let up any goals early, like we did in Vancouver or in LA, said the coach, whose squad is 3-1-3 in their last seven games. We try to stay compact and make sure that nothing comes our way. Games on the road are different than home and we have to make sure to prevent that type of stuff.
I think weve played some good games on the road and some not so good. Were going to try and keep the same routine and mentality as the home games.
The Unions routine at home as been to earn results by any means necessary. If they can bring that type of play on the road, starting with the United on Saturday, the only thing stopping the Union is themselves.
E-mail Ryan Bright at firstname.lastname@example.org
Related: Which Union player will represent the USA next? Bench role not limiting Union's Mwanga