By JOEY SAMUEL
Days after being acquired from Chivas USA in exchange for Philadelphia Union captain Danny Califf, Michael Lahoud was already into the starting lineup. But Lahoud's first match as a member of the Union saw him struggle to adapt to the team's style of play.
As the Union prepare for a game against Toronto FC on Saturday, Lahoud will have to improve on his performance from last week if Philadelphia do not want to become the first team Toronto FC earns points off of.
"From talking to Peter (Nowak), it's just an extension of what I've been doing thus far in my career," Lahoud said. "Just putting in an honest effort on both sides of the ball. There's definitely more of an ask here to be involved on the offensive side of the ball, but still maintain discipline defensively."
While it's not clear if Lahoud will start again on Saturday, Nowak attributed his struggles against FC Dallas to a lack of time with the team.
"It's just been only three, four days," Nowak said. "He joined us right before we traveled to Dallas. When we start to work on our overall tactics, game, pressure and movement of the ball, he needs to get this through his veins. He's a pretty smart kid and he can understand pretty fast."
MACMATH, FARFAN TO RETURN, OTHERS QUESTIONABLE
After missing the game against Dallas due to injury, starting goalkeeper Zac MacMath is expected to return for Saturday's match against Toronto, Nowak said at his press conference on Wednesday. MacMath had been suffering from concussion symptoms.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Farfan is back after missing several games, first due to a red card suspension that was extended by the league's Disciplinary Committee, and then a knee contusion. He resumed training this week and is an option to start at left back for the Union, a position that has seen four different starters so far this season.
Gabriel Gomez's knee is still too swollen for him to practice with the team at the moment. He appeared to injure his knee on the play in which he scored for the Union on Saturday against Dallas. Nowak said he is receiving treatment three times a day in an attempt to have him ready for the Toronto game.
PPL PARK TO HOST FIRST US OPEN CUP MATCH
The Union will have the privelege of hosting a US Open Cup match for the first time in franchise history on Tuesday, when they take on the Rochester Rhinos at PPL Park in a third-round contest.
Philadelphia has never played a match in the Open Cup tournament proper, having lost each of the past two seasons in the play-in games that some MLS teams had to participate in. This year, all American MLS teams directly entered the actual tournament. If the Union manage to defeat Rochester, they would go on the road to face the winner of the match between DC United and the Richmond Kickers.