Union, Valdes must win at home to stay alive

Zac MacMath, Union goalie Zac MacMath has been solid in net for the Union this year, and must continue to play well as Philly runs down a playoff spot. Credit: Getty Images

The Union (5-8-9) are facing a must-win game at home on Saturday against the last place Montreal Impact (3-12-5). The problem is that the Impact are a team which the Union just haven’t found a way to beat this season.

It’s been three months since the teams last faced each other. Montreal came away with a 1-0 victory in April and the teams tied 1-1 in March. With the Eastern Conference playoff race in full effect, the Union can’t afford to come away from this match with anything less than three points.

“We are on a good run, but we need to get some more wins,” said Union forward Brian Brown. “We want to finish in the top three by the end of the regular season. We need to get wins in our home games, and when we go on the road we need to get points. We will continue to play hard, score goals, defend and hopefully get some wins.”

The Union sit in seventh in the Eastern Conference with 24 points. Toronto FC who currently sits in third has 29 points. The team hopes to cut away at that gap one game at a time by sticking together as a unit.

“Things are heading in a good direction,” said Union captain and midfielder Brian Carroll. “We need to stay together, stay unified as a group and support one another through thick and thin no matter who’s out there. When you’re number’s called, you need to be ready to step up and get the job done.”

The Impact haven’t won a game since June 29th and are currently riding a six game losing streak. They’re led on offense by familiar forward Jack McInerney, who has seven goals on the season. He was traded from the Union back in April for forward Andrew Wenger. The Union defense will look to cue in on him and midfielder Justin Mapp who ranks fifth in the MLS in assists with eight.

The game will air at 7 p.m. Saturday on Comcast SportsNet.

Defender Carlos Valdes returns to the Union:

Jim Curtin was as excited as anyone to announce the return of defender Carlos Valdes to the Union, who had been gone on loan for several international clubs and had an appearance in the 2014 World Cup over the past 19 months. He returns at just the right time for the Union who are desperately trying to make a playoff push to end the season.

“Anytime you can add a central defender that’s a Best XI-type central defender in our league it’s very exciting for the club,” said Curtin. “We know he’s grown a ton as a player with his World Cup experience, and the leadership that he’ll bring to our locker room is invaluable. He’s a guy that can slide right in and be a top center back in our league right away, right off the bat, and give us a push down the stretch here.”

Valdes, who has played in 65 matches with the Union, helped anchor a Union defense that finished the 2011 regular season tied for second in goals against average (1.06) with 10 shutouts. He represented the team in 2012 at the MLS All-Star Game.

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