Welcome back to another edition of Three Takeaways, a segment where I dive in after each Philadelphia Union match, revisit and take a closer look at what went well and what ultimately did not.
Welcome back to another edition of Three Takeaways, a segment where I take a closer look at the Philadelphia Union’s previous match, and point out what I think they did well and what they ultimately missed out on. Time to dive in.
One glance at Wednesday’s score, and one might think the Union are preparing themselves for a late playoff run. That is, of course, an optimistic take from last night’s match.
I take a closer look at both the positives, as well as the negatives from last night’s match.
Ilsinho needs to stay at right-wing.
After Bruce Arena called up Chris Pontius to the United States Mens’ National Team, Union manager Jim Curtin has entrusted Ilsinho and youngster, Marcus Epps to fill the void. Both got their opportunities and both did OK. But it wasn’t until last night, on the night of the Gold Cup Final that Ilsinho showed his true worth in the position.
Ilsinho created several prominent scoring, both centering the ball into the box on multiple occasions, and even scoring the eventual match winner. Of course, the Union will get Pontius back this weekend, but after the Brazilian’s performance last night, it’s safe to say Ilsinho will make Curtin’s decision that much more difficult.
It is expected that Union No. 1, Andre Blake will return to Major League Soccer play in 10 or more days, due to the injury he sustained to his hand in last night’s Gold Cup Final.
This is, of course, a massive blow for Curtin, the team, the fans, as well as the entire organization as a whole. But after McCarthy’s recent displays of heroism, I am more than confident in McCarthy. And I don’t think I am the only one.
Stick to the Game Plan
Alejandro Bedoya was right: this match could have easily been 4-0 in favor to the Boys-in-Blue.
From the get-go, the Union put the Crew under a load of pressure, high up the field. Under constant assault, the Crew backline made a series of poor decisions and uncanny mistakes. Obviously it’s hard to sustain 90 minutes of high-pressure, but if the Union had kept them under, it could very well have been a drudging at Talen Energy Stadium.
After last night’s drama, I think there are several members of the Union who need to do some soul-searching. Ahem, Roland Alberg. Alberg took three or more 20+ yard shots that more often than not ended with either the ball going the other way, or at the top of The River End.
Curtin’s team needs to learn to rely on each other more to increase the quality of play.
Joe Lister is a contributor for UnionFanTV. Check back soon for the next edition of Three Takeaways. Be sure to also check out the next U in Preview for a comprehensive preview of Saturday’s match against New England.
Last Saturday, the Philadelphia Union traveled to Columbus to play in the first installment of a home-and-home, against Columbus Crew SC. They lost 1-0 on the day, after an unfortunate own goal by Joshua Yaro.
In what is the first edition of Three Takeaways, I take a closer look at the adjustments Jim Curtin and the Union should make in tonight’s pivotal rematch against the Crew, at Talen Energy Stadium.
Strengthen the back line
No one would dare to speak ill of John McCarthy, at the moment. He’s not Andre Blake. No, he’s John McCarthy, and he’s a more than capable starter in Major League Soccer. Curtin sure thinks so, too.
McCarthy has been forced into making several spectacular saves a match, recently. So often the back line has failed the Union’s No. 2, and has forced McCarthy to hold his own back there.
Read the runs
Time after time, Columbus got away with little streaks downfield that the Union ultimately failed to recognize and mark up on players running in behind. Example A: Ola Kamara nearly went top shelf on a volley that he should have never had time for. Instead, Kamara should have been forced to play with his back to goal, with a center back on his back.
It nearly cost them a goal (or two). Again, without the heroics of McCarthy between the sticks, the Union would have found themselves picking the ball from out of their net, and on more than one occasion.
They have to get better at reading the long ball.
Get. Guys. Back.
For once, the Union have considerable depth.
Even with all the players the Union were missing on Saturday — Andre Blake, Fafa Picualt, Chris Pontius, Derrick Jones, Fabian Herbers, Roland Alberg, Oguchi Onyewu, and CJ Sapong — they managed to stay in the match against Columbus, even if it wasn’t pretty.
It’s encouraging to see younger guys like Adam Najem and Marcus Epps play beyond their years and look fairly comfortable on the field. Nevertheless, the absences were still noted.
Offensively, the Union sorely missed Picault’s speed on the wing, as well as his ability to play on both sides of the ball. They also desperately missed Sapong’s strong hold up play, which allows for guys to join in on the attack.
In the back, the Union’s backline appeared to miss the strong, veteran presence of Onyewu.
Although Yaro was able to go toe-to-toe with several of Crew’s more speedy players, he was often drug out of his position, leaving Jack Elliot alone in the box. And despite Elliot’s considerable size advantage, he isn’t yet able to boss opposing guys in the box like Gooch.
Joe Lister is a contributor for UnionFanTV. Check back soon for the next edition of Three Takeaways. Be sure to also check out the latest U in Preview, which takes a closer look at tonight’s match against Columbus.