Resting Starters: A Union Finale with a Playoff Feel


The Philadelphia Union fell flat on their face against Orlando this past weekend. But as fait would have it, the Union will actually make the playoffs. They only have to not lose by TWELVE goals in the finale this Sunday against New York Red Bulls. While Philadelphia is winless in their last six games, they have a chance to get a win against the top team in the east this Sunday. They can do this all while rotating the roster, so they can be at full-strength for  mid-week playoff game next week. So how/who will the Union play in their season finale? Answer: Resting Starters!

Today in the mid-week press conference, Jim Curtin suggested that their could be some changes infused in his line-up selection on Sunday.

This interesting announcement from the Union’s Gaffer makes for some fun speculation. Who will start for the Union this weekend, and who will be “rested?”


The Usual elven that have started the past few games are banged up/fatigued, and others have not been performing at the highest level. Alejandro Bedoya is dealing with a rib injury Chris Pontius took a knock last game against Orlando City and CJ Sapong is dealing with a conclusion. Brian Carroll, and Warren Creavalle have carried the burden of defensive midfielder all season. The ageless Fabinho, and the grizzly Richie Marquez have held down the left side of the defense all year-long. The Rookies: Fabian Herbers, Keegan Rosenberry and Josh Yaro/Ken Tribbett have been studs when called upon. All of these players have played key roles for the Union, but it’s time for some of them to rest up for the playoff run!

So if all of these players deserve rest who then can come in and contribute? The Union have enough players to rest every single starter, but chances are they won’t do that. Five Union starters should feature in the Finale. Those players are keeper Andre Blake, defenders Richie Marquez, Josh Yaro ( coming back from concussion injury) and Keegan Rosenberry and number ten Tranquillo Barnetta. That leaves six spots open for other players to come in and contribute. Who will they be?

At left back you’d have to go with Ray Gaddis. While he’s not been the best defender for the Union this season, he can come in and provide some extra cover against NYRB’s potent attack. This would also give Fabinho some much-needed rest; he’d would be able to take the night off after a hard-fought year to recharge for the playoffs.

In the holding midfielder spot Maurice Edu should get his first start of 2016. The work Brian Carroll and Warren Creavalle have put in this year has been monumental. Edu’s been training fully for about to months now, and should be ready for his first first team action of the year. Now is the time for Edu to get back into the swing of things right at playoff time.

Next to Edu I think we’ll see another 2016 debut; this one is from Kevin Kratz. Kratz was added to the Union right before the roster freeze, and has yet to make an imprint on this team. Kratz is a crafty player, similar to Tranquillo Barnetta, but can sit deeper to help break up plays. He’ll give some much-needed rest to Alejandro Bedoya, who hasn’t seemed right since suffering a rib injury a few weeks back at Toronto.

On the left-wing I think Walter Restrepo will get the start. Restrepo is a speedy winger, who can get behind defenders and make dangerous crosses. He will relieve Chris Pontius, who is dealing with a knock. Some rest will do Pontius wonders before the playoff run!R Remember Restrepo started the first US Open Cup game for the Union and recorded a goal. Maybe his first league start will be the same as the Open Cup’s.

On the right-wing, I think we get the return of Ilsinho. Ilsinho has been limited to a substitute role for quite a long stretch because of a nagging injury. The crafty Brazilian will come in for rookie sensation Fabian Herbers. The rookie could use a rest after starting the Union throughout the final third of the season. Ilsinho will unleash his devilish moves against the Red Bulls, a team he’s tormented all season long.

That leaves us with the striker Position, and it’s time for Charlie Davies to get the start. While he’s not done much as a late game sub this season. Davies has a knack for being a post-season scorer. He scored four goals in five games for New England during their championship run in 2014. Davies will Give CJ Sapong the rest he needs to recover from a concussion, and also to give the Union a different look. Sapong only has four shots on goal since the end of August, which is not acceptable for a starting striker on a playoff team. This rest will let Sapong recharge, and give Davies time to get into a groove before the playoffs.

Here’s what my starting 11 for this coming game looks like:


Rest for some starters, and opportunities for players who may not have played much this season. This is my idea on what Jim Curtin could have meant when he said that he’s resting guy’s who are banged up/incorporating new faces into the starting lineup to produce a spark. Did I do a good job? Do you have an alternate lineup you think the Union will roll out on Sunday? let me know in the comments section, and let’s discus!

Whoever is in the starting 11 for the Union on Sunday, they will need to play like it is a playoff match. It is Red Bulls at home on MLS “decision day.” Wouldn’t it be nice if the Union could rest players and get a win leading into the playoffs?

Come back to Philly Sports Network for a more in-depth look at how the Union can beat the Red Bulls in the next few days! Peace out Union faithful!


Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports