Philadelphia Union Matchday 2 Recap: Union 0 – 0 Crew SC

The Union played high-flying Columbus Crew SC to a nil-nil draw this past weekend. Coming off an odd early season bye, the Union looked to put a stop the Columbus’ early season win streak. Columbus has been an early season surprise, beating Toronto and Montreal. This game showed that the Union’s offense has yet to gel, and that their young back line could be the real deal. Take a look back with Philly Sports Network’s Philadelphia Union Matchday 2 Recap.

1st Half:

There was a buzz about Talen Energy Stadium on St. Patrick’s Day. Borek Dockal was set to make his Union debut, while the rest of the 11 stayed unchanged from the Union’s week one win.

As the game kicked off, the Union found themselves in control. Columbus let the Union have possession, but tried to press them into making mistakes. The Union’s new front four looked to start off on the front foot. There were plenty of opportunities, but the chances seemed to escape the Union. Columbus’ defense was swarming whoever had the ball in the final third. They made things very difficult for the Union to get a clean shot off.

When the Crew were able to win the ball they looked to break quickly. The ball was put onto Federico Higuain’s foot, or sent over the top to Gyasi Zardes. While Crew SC were able to get the ball into these dangerous spots, they had issues finding a way past the Union’s stout defense.

Both teams were trying to grind their way past each others overwhelming defenses, but neither could do so in the first half.

2nd Half:

As the sides came back out for the second half, the Union made their first substitution. Ray Gaddis came in for Fabinho. The Brazilian full back was hobbling towards the end of the first half. Gaddis came on and preformed okay, as always he had trouble moving forward down the right-wing.

The Union once again had the majority of possession, but failed to find a way to get many clear chances. Most of the attack moved down the right side of the field. Herbers found the ball a lot, and had both Alejandro Bedoya and Borek Dockal making overlapping runs down the right-wing many times. Herbers play wasn’t great, but he helped create some chances. Corey Burke came on for the german in the 63rd minute.

The Jamaican helped create more chances down the right-wing, and looked for Dockal and Bedoya in the middle of the field; as well as, put some crosses in for CJ Sapong and David Accam. Accam found little of the ball on the left-wing, which was a problem for the Union. The few times he was on the ball, he had two defenders draped on him. He had very little help moving forward with Gaddis at left back. As time went on, both teams tired.

Anthony Fontana came on for Borek Dockal in the 77th minute, and helped secure the Union a point. His defensive pressing when Columbus was on the ball did great to help the tiring Union side. In the dying minutes, both sides were wavering. There was no real purpose to any attacks, and the match ended 0-0.

Main Takeaways:

Even though the result was not ideal, the Union still managed to hold one of the hottest teams in the east scoreless. This match also showed glimpses of what could be in store for this Union team as the season progresses!

Talented offense has yet to gel:

As Borek said, this was his first game, and it will take some time for the whole offensive unit to gel. That being said, he now knows some of the ebbs and flows of a real MLS game. He will only get better with time!

He also mentioned that he needs to be on the ball more, and also need to find Accam down the left-wing more often. If both of these things can happen as the team moves forward, then the offensive struggles the Union had against Columbus will be distant memories.

Remember that Fafa Picault still has yet to play for the Union this season. When he can finally see the field (his three game suspension will be over in time for the Union take on San Jose Earthquakes April 7th) he will add another dimension on the right wing. His speed will help the Union add another threat, which will only help the rest of the attackers find space to create chances!

Keegan brings up a matter of great importance. The Union need to have their outside backs move forward to create mismatches in the opposing final third. He did a good job of this (he also had a great defensive shift) and so did Fabinho. When Gaddis came in there was little attack on the left-wing.

The Union need an outside back that can get forward, especially on the left to help Accam. If Fabinho’s injury is a serious one, Gaddis wouldn’t be the best option moving forward. It’d be better to give Matt Real a go. He was very dangerous in Steel FC’s 4-1 win over Richmond, getting forward often and even having a few attempts on goal!

Even though the offense is struggling there should be no cause for concern just yet. If a few bounces went their way, they could have easily beaten Columbus, as Jim Curtin said: “It’s early in the season… I still think we had a couple of good chances”

Young  back line looks to be the real deal:

A major surprise early in this season has been the success of the Union’s back line. It has been getting some major praise, including the praise of head coach Jim Curtin: “Haven’t concedes a goal yet, but there’s still a lot we can work on. We’re not the perfect, we’re not the complete product yet.”

Two major factors have been Keegan Rosenberry’s resurgence, and Auston Trusty’s dominance. Both young defenders have shown the ability to defend with vigor and get themselves into the right positions. When they need to, both have shown the ability to make chance killing recovery runs. These two performing at a high-caliber, coupled with Fabinho and Elliot’s strong play, has made this a very good defensive unit

Elliot has shown the ability to become a leader of the back line. The Englishman’s second year with the Union has picked up where it left off last year. You can see him taking charge of the defenders around him. He has been an ideal partner for Auston Trusty.

The Union’s young center back pairing has led the way in keeping opponents off the score sheet. They have done well communication who attacks the ball, and who holds back or runs with opponents off the ball. They are both still young, and mistakes will find them, but right now that are playing some great soccer! Having Andre Blake behind them doesn’t hurt their confidence either!

Box Score:

Philadelphia Union:

Andre Blake; Keegan Rosenberry, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Fabinho (Raymon Gaddis 46’); Haris Medunjanin, Alejandro Bedoya; Fabian Herbers (Cory Burke 63’), Borek Dockal (Anthony Fontana 77’), David Accam; CJ Sapong

Substitutes not used: John McCarthy; Richie Marquez, Derrick Jones, Jay Simpson

Columbus Crew SC:

Zack Steffen; Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Lalas Abubakar, Milton Valenzuela; Artur, Wil Trapp; Cristian Martinez (Niko Hansen 73’), Federico Higuain, Pedro Santos (Luis Argudo 90’+3’); Gyasi Zardes

Substitutes not used: Jon Kempin; Josh Williams, Mohammed Abu, Ricardo Clark, Hector Jimenez

Scoring Plays:


Disciplinary Action:

CLB – Artur (caution) 53’
PHI – Alejandro Bedoya (caution) 76’
CLB – Federico Higuain (caution) 78’
PHI – Keegan Rosenberry (caution) 89’


Next Match – 3/31/2018 – Philadelphia Union @ Colorado Rapids:

The Union have yet another bye week this week. Their next match is their first road game of the season at Colorado. The Rapids have struggled early this season; they crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions league, and lost their first MLS match of the season away at New England two weeks ago. The Union will look to keep their momentum moving forward, and keeping another clean sheet! Coach Curtin will have the boys in blue ready: “We have another off week to get ready for our next match on the road. Big test for us.”

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Peace out Union fans!

Philadelphia Union writer.

A passion for the beautiful game drives me.

Twitter: @TGing21

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