Philadelphia Union Weekly Update

This Week’s Union Recap with Dave Knittel

The Union had a mixed bag of results this week. They absolutely crushed the Richmond Kickers in a mid-week US Open Cup match before Toronto FC came in and easily handled the Boys in Blue at Talen Energy Stadium.

In the US Open Cup match, the Union came out strong against a clearly inferior USL opponent. They were up 4-0 at halftime and pretty much cruised the rest of the game.

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It was nice to see legit lineup rotation from head coach Jim Curtin over the most recent stretch of games and the lineup for this match was a good mixture of veterans & reserves. The team on the field also featured all the Union homegrowns currently on the roster at some point, which was great to see.

David Accam broke his goal scoring drought and the Union just took care of business in what was a low-key tricky match. Most other MLS teams struggled against lower division opposition this round, so I was very happy to see the Union professionally clobber a team they should have.

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They now host the Red Bulls this weekend in a round of 16 matchup. The Union usually take this competition seriously, so I expect them to field a strong side, especially given the World Cup break.

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Now that we’ve covered the positives with the midweek game, let’s talk about the U’s MLS match against TFC. After the suspensions of Bedoya & Medunjanin, I was curious to see how Curtin would line up the team. He chose to put Ilsinho in an attacking midfield role, shift Borek Dockal back to a box to box midfielder role, and bring in Warren Creavalle.

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Immediately upon seeing the lineup, I texted my brothers, that I thought the Union midfield would be exposed defensively. That more or less played out throughout the match.

The match was very back and forth in the first half. Toronto was exposing the midfield and flanks for the Union as both Union fullbacks weren’t getting a ton of support from their midfield counterparts in Marcus Epps and Fafa Picault.

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TFC wasn’t punishing the Union though and the U had the first major chance of the match. Creavalle played a long through ball that Fafa was able to latch onto and head on a breakaway. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to finish.

Fafa is so damn good at getting into the right positions and using his pace, but there’s a reason he’s in MLS and not playing at a higher level. He often lacks the final product, whether it’s a shot, cross, or through ball, he often can’t execute properly, and this was no different.

Shortly after Fafa’s miss, Toronto playmaker Victor Vazquez played a superb through ball that Jonathan Osorio was able to collect, run on a breakaway, and finish for the game’s opening goal.

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Both teams continued getting chances throughout the half and heading into halftime, I thought the Union played slightly better than Toronto for the duration of the half.

The second half was all Toronto. The Reds were methodical in possession and the Union just couldn’t get anything going offensively. Union players were not on the same page and the loss seemed inevitable.

In the 79th minute, Keegan Rosenberry basically confirmed that loss. With a throw in around the Union’s own penalty box, Rosenberry inexplicably threw the ball way too close to Sebastian Giovinco, one of the most lethal attackers in the league, right at the top of the Union’s own box. Giovinco easily took the ball and played it to Osorio for an easy finish, which sealed the loss.

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I know Keegan has a very strong throw and a ton of self-confidence but if he’s going to do something incredibly risky that is rather unnecessary, he better be sure it’s going to work. Hopefully, this is a learning opportunity and it doesn’t happen again.

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Second half substitute David Accam had a breakaway late in the game that he wasn’t able to finish, and the score ended 0-2. On the full run of play, the scoreline was fair. When you have 2 breakaways and convert neither, you generally deserve to lose. And TFC really choked the life out of the game in the second half, so they deserve credit for a professional away performance.

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One positive note I’d like to leave you with is that Mark McKenzie and Auston Trusty continued to play well. The two 19-year-olds successfully bottled Giovinco and the TFC attack for most of the match. McKenzie was partially at fault for the TFC goal, but it really was a great pass and sometimes, you just need to tip your cap to the opponent. I’m looking forward to watching McKenzie and Trusty continue to develop.

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If you like what I wrote here, please consider checking out some of my other stuff. I do a weekly podcast with my two brothers where we discuss soccer stories from North America, England and the rest of world. It’s called Bros Talking Soccer. And I also have a YouTube channel called The Soccer Tavern where I make videos about the history, culture, and philosophy of the beautiful game.

Looking forward to talking to you again soon. Thanks for reading.

 

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