The Union didn’t just lose last week, they blew a 3-0 home lead. Their 3-3 draw against Montreal has the fans fuming, and the coaches searching for answers. While the offense did create/take advantage of great oppertunities, the weight of the eight month winless streak ways heavy on this team. Certain players showed fight, and others did not. There’s not much time to figure out the solution to the problem as the Union travel west to take on LA. The Galaxy are in a slump of their own, losing 3-0 at home to Seattle last weekend. How can Philly take advantage of this and get the franchise’s second win in Carson California on Saturday night? The Union will need to follow Seattle’s blueprint to end their struggles against struggling LA Galaxy.
Seattle did a good job at attacking LA’s weak spots, the Union will need to do the same. If Philly can attack Ashley Cole on the wing, create good attacking combination play through the middle, and defend agaisnt LA’s counter attack, then they should find themselves success in this match.
Ashley Cole was put to work against Nicolas Loderio, and Jordan Morris. After getting beat a number of times Cole tried to re-adjust on a ball played into his own box, and ended up nothing an own goal past keeper Rowe The Union will have to do the same thing Seattle did with their wingers; Pontius and Ilsinho will need to be up for the challenge/opportunity. Whoever is running at Cole will need to put on their playmaking hat. Cole used to be one of the best 1v1 defenders, now he is poor at stopping the ball and slow to recover when beaten. When he is between the ball and a free runner he gets frozen in place, not knowing where to go.
If Ilsinho is on the ball, the Brazilian will need to turn Cole inside out; if Pontius is on the ball he has to attack Cole and look for the layoff man. Both options will get Sapong and Alberg into dangerous spots in the final third. It’s up to the rest of the players to finish off the chances. Attacking Cole is lynchpin that can kickstart the Union’s attack agaisnt LA.
The no-look pass and the finish.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) April 24, 2017
LA have a slow middle of the field. Center backs Van Damme and Steres are tall and strong, but when forced to cover a lot of ground to cover attacks they can get burnt. The middle of the midfield isn’t what it used to be either. Gone are the days where LA could snuff out attacks in the middle with tenacious running. Now Jermaine Jones and Joao Pedro man the middle of the pitch. Neither has the break away speed to turn a bit of defensive work into a quick counter attack. This creates room for combination play. If the Union attack Cole the center backs will have to shift over to accommodate. this will create a bigger space for combination play between the center backs and the middle of LA’s midfield.
If the Union can get Bedoya and Medunjanin on the ball in these offensive transitions there will be a lot of chances created. again the Union will have to be lethal with these chances, but the opportunity is there for a good day offensively. It’s one thing to be able to attack LA it’s another thing entirely to defend them.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) April 25, 2017
LA has a lethal front four. Boateng and Alessandrini on the wings give LA speed and decisive playmaking out wide. These guys have accounted for a lot of LA’s ability to hit teams on the counter attack. If Boateng and Alessandrini don’t score themselves on the break, they have good options in the middle. Dos Santos and Zardes are the strike pair for LA. Dos Santos has yet to find his impactful-ness like he did last season, and Zardes is still coming back normal after a long injury; however, both are great finishers if allowed the time and space.
The Union will need to defend well on the wings if they want to get this job done, which is why I think Keegan Rosenberry will be brought back into the side. That means sending either Ray Gaddis or Fabinho to the bench, and I think Fabinho will ride the pine in this match.The Union cannot afford to get burnt on the wing. Gaddis is a better defender than Fabinho, and is great in 1v1 situations. The Union will also need Marquez and Elliot to mark the forwards who will try to make cutting runs to create a counter. A back four of Gaddis, Marquez, Elliot, and Rosenberry is the best the Union can do to stop LA’s counter attacking style.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) April 23, 2017
The Union need to keep possession of the ball if they want to beat struggling LA. Attacking their outside backs, especially Cole, combining in the final third to find the open man, and stopping LA when they counter is how Seattle beat LA 3-0 on their home field last week. If the Union can do these things they should finally get their first win.
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) April 27, 2017
I expect the lineup to look like this:
Starters: Blake; Gaddis, Marquez, Elliot, Rosenberry; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Ilsinho, Alberg, Pontius; Sapong.
Bench: McCarthy, Fabinho, Onyewu, Jones, Fafa, Herbers, Simpson.
— Philadelphia Union (@PhilaUnion) April 28, 2017
The Union take on LA tonight at 10:30 PM. Be sure to catch it on The Comcast Network, or MLS Live! Hopefully the fans who’re dedicated enough to stay up so late for the match will go to bed in the early morning hours happy about the Union’s first win! Until next time, peace out Union fans.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports