The Philadelphia Union will be without two key defenders as they head to Chicago to take on the Fire tonight. Starting right back Sheanon Williams will be off with the US Men's National Team for Olympic qualifying. As for starting center back and captain Danny Califf? Well, that's a whole other story.
Califf started the season opener in Portland and said he was fit for the home opener last week, but manager Peter Nowak surprisingly held him out. Nowak would only vaguely refer to a possible injury or lack of fitness on Califf's part. Since then, it appears as though the captain and manager have gotten on the same page.
"We're just going on the trajectory that we want to get [me] fit and strong," Califf told the club's website Friday. "So we're taking the week leading up [to the game against Vancouver] and this weekend heading into next week to try and achieve that. Overall just getting fitter and stronger [is the goal]."
Califf will not even travel with the team for tonight's game, which will be Chicago's home opener. The Union will be looking to rebound from a 0-2 start against the Fire, who are 0-0-1 on the season. Midfielder Brian Carroll says the team has put forth the effort, but have tended to let things slip in certain stretches.
"We've put a lot of effort into the games and have played really well at times, but there have just been a few stretches here or there, whether it be a mistake or the other team's strength of play , we just weren't able to overcome that, either in our first game at Portland or at home against Colorado. Now it's about fine-tuning those things and being better throughout the course of the entire game, eliminating mistakes as much as possible and sticking to the gameplan as much as possible."
First kicks is at 8:30 pm tonight on The Comcast Network.