Reporting Matt Leon
By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Philadelphia Union will be on the road on Saturday night, visiting D.C. United.
Now this is really a match Philadelphia needs to get a result out of. The Union currently hold the fifth and final playoff spot in MLS Eastern Conference (with 45 points) with three matches remaining, but they are just two points ahead of sixth-place Chicago. D.C. United, meanwhile, is limping to the end of an awful season. They have just three wins in 2013 and their 15 points are easily the lowest total in all of MLS.
Saturday’s match will also be a special one for Union midfielder Brian Carroll. It will be the 300th match of the veteran’s MLS career.
“Its been great,” Carroll says of his career to KYW Newsradio. “A lot of people have helped me out along the way. A lot of good teammates, a lot of good coaching staffs. My family and friends have been in support of me since day one. Didn’t really know how it was going to go after my rookie year, not having my number called once (in 2003 with D.C. United). But I got my opportunity to start off the first game of my second season as a pro. Just wanted to stick around, and was able to do that and haven’t looked back since. It’s been a great ride and I’m just happy to be a part of a good locker room like we have here with the Union and just to be playing for a good staff that we have in place here. And the fans are unbelievable so you can’t really ask for much better.”
Philadelphia is the third stop of Carroll’s MLS career. He spent five seasons with D.C. United after they selected him 11th overall out of Wake Forest University in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft. That was followed by a three-year stint in Columbus with the Crew before coming to Philadelphia prior to the 2010 season. He talks about how his game has evolved since he first broke into the league.
“Trying to be a little bit more patient and reading the game faster,” Carroll says. “Hopefully, the game continues to slow down in my eye, but stay fast physically and decision making wise.”
In addition to his personal growth, Carroll has also had a front row seat as Major League Soccer itself has become a bigger and bigger player on the American sports landscape.
“It’s grown each and every year,” Carroll says. “Everybody involved from the front office to the fans to the players to the league office, everybody’s played their part in growing this league. It just gets better and better every year, the quality of play, both speed of play, physical nature of the play. From top to bottom, stadiums, practice facilities, just resources, everything has gotten better and I think that has showed and been accepted from players and people around the world, as a league that is continuing to grow and something that’s going to be competing with the best leagues in the world in the not too distant future, hopefully.”
While this is a special milestone for Carroll, the bottom line on Saturday for him and the Union will be getting a win to move one step closer to a return to the postseason.
“We’ve put ourselves in position by some good work and some heroics the past couple of weeks,” Carroll says. “We’re in it and we’ve just got to keep pushing and keep playing and keep working hard.”
Philadelphia and D.C. United will get underway at 7:00pm on Saturday.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.