The Union bounced back from a hard loss last Saturday with a 2-1 victory over Columbus on Wednesday night. Philadelphia switched things up, and found the favorable result over the struggling Columbus team. Columbus had just won their first match since April the weekend before, and looked to try to mend their broken season with a victory over the Union Wednesday night. However their efforts were foiled by the Philadelphia Union’s outstanding rookies. The Union got the win, and the time to strike is now against SKC!
Wednesday night Philly fixed their problems, and a major part of that was the rookies. The Union’s three first round draft picks played like seasoned veterans on Wednesday night. Yaro got the start at centerback over the struggling Ken Tribbett. He had a very solid performance; stopping Columbus’ lethal attackers. Fabian Herbers got his first start as a winger, and connected well with fellow rookie Rosenberry. He got into dangerous spots, resulting in his second goal of the season. Keegan Rosenberry had what could be called the best game of his young Union career. He shut down Justin Meram, and scored the game winning goal for the Union! Rosenberry’s game winner came just seconds after this goal? for the Crew. These rookies fixed the Union’s recent struggles.
The Union had been having troubles with their center back consistency, team defense, and their high press. This showed in the game against Toronto. The Union’s press was ineffective, which led to the midfield to lose its shape, which led to the center backs scrambling to stop the attackers. Against Columbus, these problems were fixed and Philadelphia was able to complete the sweep of Columbus. The focus now shifts to Sporting Kansas City for Philadelphia.
This Saturday’s game is crucial for Philadelphia. It could shape where the Union stand come playoff time. It is also the first time the Union and SKC have met since last years US Open Cup. Sporting beat the Union in Chester last September in a penalty shoot out. This game, no doubt, is one that the returning Union players circled on the calendar. This game comes at an opportune time for Philadelphia, and a not-so-lucky time for SKC.
The Union come off of a good road win, and have become the highest scoring team in all of MLS in the process. The Union have scored 45 goals this season; their attack has never looked better. Sapong, Pontius, Barnetta, Ilshino, Herbers, Bedoya, and Alberg are all great and different threats when the Union move forward. Philadelphia’s scoring will be key as they progress through the late stages of this 2016 campaign.
Sporting Kansas City have been inconsistent over the last few months of the season. from July 3rd to now they are 5-4-2 across all competitions. Their recent form is one that Philly can take advantage of. Over their past two months, SKC has a goal differential of plus five. This is a good stat, and it shows that the Union have to play good defense to best SKC. If Philly can press, and play good defense they will be able to best Sporting.
Kansas City has a major problem; they have the injury bug! Sporting have four defenders injured, and a fifth questionable for the match. They also have starting goal keeper Tim Melia injured, and confirmed out for this weekends match. With all of these defenders out, the Union’s attacking should be salivating at the chance to get a crucial win! If the Union win they can climb further up the Eastern Conference table.
The Union can gain on the top teams in the East with a win. They will however need some help from the teams on top of them to raise to where they want to be. Toronto plays Montreal, Orlando plays NYCFC, and New York Red Bulls play New England. If Toronto, NYCFC, and New York Red Bull’s lose and the Union win the table will look like this:
Toronto in first; 43 points
NYCFC in second; 41 points
Union in third; 40 points
NY Red Bulls in fourth; 37 points
Montreal in fifth; 37 points
DC United in sixth; 32 points
With the win, and the luck of other teams losing, the Union will be only three points away from the top of the East, and would get into great position to stride for one of the top two spots. That is very important, because the top two teams get automatically in the Conference semi-finals! Only time will tell if the Union can do this, but this is the time to strike if they want the to be one of the top two teams in the East.
The Union take on SKC at 7PM Saturday night. Catch it on The Comcast Network (TCN). Come back to Philly Sports Network for a review of the game! Also keep an eye on the other teams in the east this weekend. NYCFC plays Orlando Sunday on ESPN, and New York Red Bulls play New England Sunday on Fox Sports 1. Until next time; peace out!