The Union dominated the stat line against LA, forcing the team into a Draw. This draw felt like a win for the fans, but not the team. Coach Curtin said it still feels like “two points dropped.” The Union are hungrier for more, and they get to travel to Montreal on Saturday. Montreal sit one point ahead of the Union, having played one more game. The Union will have to take the lessons learned from stopping LA’s stars to Montreal, as the Canadian side also has a star-studded line up. Here is how the Union can come away from this game as the top team in the East!
Looking at Montreal in their last four games they have no wins, one loss, three ties, and a goal difference of minus two. Their one point affairs have been impressive; featuring, late game tying goals, special efforts from their star, and erasing multiple goal deficits. However this does show that Montreal lets up goals.
The Union will have to take advantage of this on Saturday. All of Montreal’s conceded goals in their past four games have come from either counterattacks, transition/crosses into the box, or from PK’s. This plays right into the Union’s wheelhouse. The Philadelphia side’s newfound style is high pressing opponents, forcing turnovers, and quickly attacking the opposition. Montreal has conceded ten goals in their past four games, seven of them have been on transition play. If the Union can high press, and attack like they have recently then they will find goals against Montreal. Getting goals is one thing, stopping star attackers is another.
The Union’s young back line will have their work cut out for the second time in as many games. Coming off of a solid performance against LA’s all-star attackers, the young Union defenders will need to have another good performance on only a few days rest. Drogba is a menace, Piatti puts defenders to sleep, and Oduro is lightning quick with a tendency to show up in-game winning situations.
These lethal attackers will be a difficult task for any defense to deal with. But The young backline of the Union just shut down LA’s stars, so they have a blueprint for this upcoming match. The defenders will have to stifle Piatti when he’s on the ball. He is a maestro who dances on the ball and finds lethal passing lanes that don’t seem to be there. Partnered with his ability to work himself into dangerous positions where he can score as well, this is arguably one of the biggest tests of the season, not just for the Union’s defense, but the whole team. A short turn around and a trip to Montreal can take its toll on the Union players..it’s going to be interesting to see how they play in the shoes of an LA team that was suffocated at Talen Energy Stadium just days ago.
Union coach, Jim Curtin said he could well use a number of players on Saturday that did not feature in Wednesdays game. With the quick turnaround The Union will most likely make some subtle changes.
Look for Creavalle to come in for Carroll, Ilshino to replace Le Toux, and Alberg to take Barnetta’s place. You may even see Gaddis for Fabinho at left back, Tribbett for Yaro, Fernandes for Pontius, and Herbers for Sapong. This is something the Union have not had in recent years; depth.
This team has the luxury of giving their players, that played long hard minutes on Wednesday, rest. In the past Philadelphia was not as deep, and had to play tired players on two or three days rest. This depth should play a key factor into this weekends big match. First place is on the line!
However, with the stakes being so high and the opposition so strong, it would be wise to save some of the bigger changes for when the team face D.C United or even better when the Union travel to Orlando.
The Union can win this game if they keep doing what they are doing; high press, and then attack. Teams that do that to Montreal have found goals. Montreal does have a potent offense, so the young defenders of the Philadelphia will have to be on their A-game.
If the Union can win this game they will have seventeen points, and will lead the Eastern conference. This team is good enough to do it; their style and depth will have to play a factor for the result to come. Winning on the road is difficult for any team in MLS, but if the Union want to be the best they are going to have to beat good teams on the road the same way they have at home. This game should be a cracker of a match, and will show who the 2016 Philadelphia Union truly are.
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