The Philadelphia Union will have to take advantage of some weaker opponents if they want to stay in the playoff race. Even if some of their best players aren't available. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Union (4-6-4) are discovering that sometimes to find your groove again, a break is all you need.

 

The Union were among the MLS teams who took a lengthy hiatus due to the World Cup qualifying matches the U.S. Men’s National Team played in over the past couple weeks.

 

Their last regular season match was back on June 3, in a 2-1 loss to New York City FC (7-5-3) on the road. They took to the pitch for the first time since on Wednesday night in an Open Cup match against the Harrisburg City Islanders of the USL, which they won 3-1.

 

The layoff has been good for both health and team chemistry. Defender Joshua Yaro, who missed the team’s first 13 matches due to a shoulder injury, logged 19 minutes as a sub against NYCFC and has had the chance to work his way back into the lineup. The second overall pick in 2016 was able to play a full 90 minutes against the Islanders.

 

“It’s a good feeling when you get to step on the field again,” Yaro said. “I [have the mindset] to do my job. Whenever that is and wherever that is I’m always ready to go.”

 

The Union will return to regular season action on Sunday against their bitter rivals, the New York Red Bulls (6-7-2). The two teams last faced on May 6 in a 3-0 Union victory. The decisive win propelled the Union to four-straight wins, a club record.

“We know that we have the Red Bulls coming in on Sunday,” Union manager Jim Curtin said, after Wednesday’s win. “Things will get ramped up, it will get more intense, but overall I thought the performance was a good one. We got guys some minutes and got guys some sharpness and I have a lot of tough decisions [to make] for the weekend now.”

After a six-match unbeaten streak from April 22 to May 20, the Union now have lost two-straight matches. They’ve fallen into 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. A win and three points over the sixth-place Red Bulls (20 points) would put the Union (16 points) in a great spot after the MLS restart.

Sunday’s match against the Red Bulls will be played at 5 p.m. at Talen Energy Stadium. The match will air nationally on ESPN.