Ja trio hoping to spark comeback for Union
Fresh from representing Jamaica in the first three matches of World Cup qualifying, national goalkeeper and captain Andre Blake, striker Cory Burke and defender Alvas Powell will hope to pull off a comeback with their Major League Soccer (MLS) team, the Philadelphia Union, in the second leg of their Concacaf Champions League semi-final tie with Mexican outfit Club America tonight at 8. Jamaica time at PPL Park.
The Union lost the first leg at the Azteca Stadium 2-0 on August 12 and would need to win the return leg 2-0 to force extra time or would need a 3-0 result to win the tie outright. Blake, Burke and Powell were among the seven players that left the club for international duty this past window and played in all three games against Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica.
Head coach Jim Curtin says that their return has not only brought more life into the team but has increased the personnel he has to choose from for this important stretch of the season which includes chasing an MLS play-off berth.
"They came back with a little more energy, a little more in their step. We want to make a push now for the Champions League. We know that we have 11 games left in the MLS and we know how tight the table is. This final stretch will dictate how we will look back and reflect on this season," Curtin said in yesterday's pre-game press conference.
"A lot of it will come down to how those seven perform. They are key players for us. But I think they all came back with a little more intensity and gave a little more life training and in general, gave us more bodies." Burke and Powell came on as second-half substitutes in the first leg, while Blake started and played the entire 90 minutes. The Union are the last MLS team left in the competition and while knowing that they need to score goals to give themselves a chance to advance, Curtin says that they still need to be smart in their approach
"Certainly, it's unique now. It calls for us to be aggressive. It calls for us to be disciplined though and not concede because if you concede them you have to score four which is a real uphill battle," Curtin said.
The winner faces either Cruz Azul or Monterrey whose second leg semi-final game is tomorrow. Monterrey currently lead 1-0 on aggregate.