There was a real sense of excitement as a reformed Philadelphia Union walked onto the pitch in their season opener against the Colorado Rapids. Fans, journalists, bloggers, kids, TV reporters all wanted to see just how this new team would work. Would the fatal flaws from last season still be persistent or have the new signings created a force to be reckoned with?
The excitement turned into tension and then frustration. Firstly, a shot ricocheted off the bar for Wenger who played some excellent Football over the course of the game. Out of the sixteen attempted shots, just four found the target. A hugely disappointing statistic but things got a lot easier as time went on. For the final twenty minutes, the Union were actually a man up. Burling brought down Sebastien Le Toux earning him a second red card and a trip to the dugout. From then on it became an onslaught. Substitute Conor Casey was denied in the late moments as Clint Irwin made play of the game if nto play of the weekend. Stepping up the mark and making a huge save from the forwards five yard header. Without his heroics, we’re easily talking about a Union victory. That save was something you rarely see from most keepers but from the likes of Bayern’s Neuer or Chelsea’s Courtois.
The team dominated possession, made great attacks and the new acquirements in defence were very well received and had sterling debuts. BUT, there was no composure in front of the net. For the most part, Clint Irwin had an easy ride as shots were flying in any direction but goalward. It was infuriating to spectate from a fans perspective but the positive here is that the issue that will be addressed in training is clear and prominent. It’s not made up of tactical mishaps or players not contributing to their respective roles. It’s finishing. There needs to be much more emphasis on putting the ball in the back of the net.
The Union are back in action on the 15th of March as they play Real Salt Lake. Will we see a first goal and maybe even first points of the season? Or is a frustrating start holding signs of the future?