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Union aim to exact revenge vs. Impact
Philadelphia Union coach Jim Curtin remembers his team's low point this season.
The Union, who were 0-5-2 and on a 15-game winless streak that dated to September, saw the Montreal Impact erase a 3-0 deficit and earn a draw at Talen Energy Stadium.
"It was at a time when we did not have a lot of confidence," Curtin told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "When that goal went in, you could almost feel the life go out of the stadium."
But after that "rock bottom" moment, Curtin said, things turned around for the Union, who will host the Impact on Saturday.
"Going through that time can only make a group stronger," he said. "Because it couldn't get much lower than it was early in the year."
Stronger is right.
After playing to a 0-0 draw the next week in Los Angeles, Philadelphia reeled off four straight wins.
The Union (8-10-5) are 8-5-2 since the Impact's last visit and sit in eighth place, three points behind sixth-place Columbus.
Midfielder Ilsinho had a goal and two assists in Philadelphia's 3-1 win over FC Dallas a week ago.
The Brazilian was starting in place of Roland Alberg and playing in front of family members visiting from Brazil for the second straight week.
"When my family's around me, I feel confidence," said Ilsinho, who had a goal and in assist in a 3-0 win over Columbus Crew SC. "I feel close to my home."
His talent is undeniable," Curtin told the team's website. "When you see him train day in and day out, the things he can do with the ball, players are scared to get close to him. You've seen it in flashes in the games, but the challenge is always for every player to play at your top level for 90 minutes. And when he plays at his top level for 90 minutes, you guys see the results."
Ninth-place Montreal (7-8-6) is coming off a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Orlando City, thanks to the late-game heroics of super-sub Anthony Jackson-Hamel.
Jackson-Hamel entered the game in the 79th minute and delivered the game winner five minutes later.
"He's been super important for us this year," Impact coach Mauro Biello said, according to the Montreal Gazette.
"He's scored how many big goals for us coming off the bench. When you have a player like that, who feeds off tired defenders at the end of the game, who finds spaces that are more open, it becomes effective for me."
Five of Jackson-Hamel's six goals this season have come as a substitute.
"When I come into the game, it's to score goals," Jackson-Hamel told the Gazette. "I know I'm going to have one chance and I have to put it away. It's as simple as that. My whole focus is on that one chance and that's it.
"The goal is to be a starter, that's not a secret. But I'll keeping earning the coach's trust and I'll keep scoring goals."
Both teams desperately need a win on Saturday to help their playoff chances. Philadelphia (29 points) and Montreal (27) are currently looking up at Columbus (32) and seventh-place Orlando City (30) in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Union will try to capitalize at home before road trips to San Jose and Toronto next week.
The Impact are looking for their second road win of the season. After Saturday, Montreal plays four straight games at home.
Updated August 11, 2017