Union face off against struggling Colorado Rapids. The emphasis is on completing the two win week. So how can the Union do this? They can do this by feeding off their momentum; keep possession to create chances and keep up the stellar team defense. These may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning and looking into. The Union are four points out of a playoff spot, and if they want to keep gaining on the contenders in the east, they will need to keep doing what they’re doing.
If @PhilaUnion win tomorrow, they'll be one point under the Red Bulls with a game in hand! 👊😎 #DOOP https://t.co/uXAONfsfda
— Tim Lovenguth (@Tim_Lovenguth) May 20, 2017
Possession with the intent to score:
Armchair Analyst: Fafa Picault got the goal, but once again all that's good w/ the Union started with C.J. Sapong pic.twitter.com/A3RjTtFWKT
— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) May 18, 2017
The Union have done a marvelous job of keeping possession with the intention of scoring goals. Against DC United a week ago the Union had a passing sequence of 40+ passes before Fabian Herbers scored. In the mid-week match agaisnt Houston, Philly did more of the same passing from the back line, to the central midfielders who distributed the ball, to the wings who sent balls into the box for both goals. This type of possession makes the Union a real threat. This however doesn’t mean that the Union need to have the majority possession throughout the match. They were out possessed by Houston, but won 2-0. The possession with the intent to sore is what the Union are using to beat teams. They will have to do this to Colorado to win.
Keep up the strong team-defense:
Union making it look easy out there. The commitment to team defense has been phenomenal.
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) May 18, 2017
The Union’s team defense in the past four games has been a beautiful thing to witness. There is a commitment from this team that has clicked in the few weeks. The teams ability to play defense has been the reason they have won games. All players do this a bit differently on the pitch, and the Union players know their roles.It all starts with CJ Sapong, and who ever is playing the 10 (whether it be Ilsinho or Alberg). They are the first lines of defense, their job is to pressure the ball from the front, when the ball is on the opponent’s side of the field. This allows the central midfielders the ability to stay home and follow the oppositions runners as they move forward.
The wingers defend up and down the wings, if the ball is moved their in the opposing half they move up to help create counter attack should a turn over ensue; they also help the outside backs when defending deeper. The outside backs defend the wings and around their respective sides of the box, and the center backs hold down the middle and only step up to defend if there is a break in the central midfielders. If all else fails Andre Blake is called upon to make big saves!
The Union as a unit have executed these roles to perfection on the defensive side. It has led to the confidence of mind that if they lose possession, the entire 11 players on the field know how to stop the opposition and get the ball back. The Union will have to watch out for Colorado’s lethal counter attack led by Dominique Badji and Shkelzen Gashi. When Colorado gets a head of steam and numbers going forward they are lethal. It’ll be the job of every Union player to stop this team.
Other notes heading into the match:
Curtin doesn't seem to favor much rotation going into Saturday. My guess is you'll see the same XI as long as everyone is healthy.
— Philly Soccer Page (@phillysoccerpg) May 18, 2017
The Union need to stick to their guns if they want to win their fourth in a row. With that, there may not be many changes to the starting 11 despite the two-game week. Coach Curtin loves consistency so the lineup from Wednesday may be the one we see again on Saturday. Would it be beneficial to rest Sapong, Fafa or Pontius and give Simpson, Herbers or Najem some minutes? Maybe, but consistency and winning are more important than squad rotation.
Bedoya, Dwyer questionable for Saturday slate.
League-wide injury news: https://t.co/FOxBF45XwK pic.twitter.com/ID2L8m1RqQ
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 20, 2017
Roland Alberg (quad) won't be ready for Colorado tomorrow. Goal is RSL Jim Curtin says.
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) May 19, 2017
One possible change could also come for their captain Alejandro Bedoya, who is questionable with a right ankle sprain. Also Roland Alberg is also listed as questionable, but Jim Curtin has already said he won’t return this week.
A little light work for Maurice Edu today. pic.twitter.com/wHYhez7l1N
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) May 19, 2017
Some good news comes in the form of Josh Yaro returning to training, and Maurice Edu doing light work with a ball! Both are a ways away from featuring for the Union but it’s good they’re on the up-and-up.
The Union look to add to their current streaks agaisnt Colorado. With a win they will be on a four game win streak, and be unbeaten in their last five. Should they keep a clean sheet it’ll be their fourth clean sheet in a row. Philly is on the up in the east, and in all of MLS. The rest of the league is taking notice. Here come the Union, they may have had a bad start to 2017, but they are a force to be reckoned with!
The match against Colorado is tonight at 7 pm you can watch on The Comcast Network and MLS Live. Be sure to follow Philly Sports Network on Instagram for some great footage of the game. Also me on twitter (@TGing21) for in-game tweets, re-tweets and soccer twitter fun. Be sure to come back to Philly Sports Network for a full analysis of the match, and other great Philly sports content, later. Until then, peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports