The Union play in Utah looking for their fifth straight win. Their opponent Real Salt Lake are slumping. RSL have lost three of their last four games, and have been a very inconsistent side in 2017. Salt Lake has only won twice at home this season, losing three times and drawing once. Philly goes to Salt Lake looking to extend their win streak and unbeaten streak. Can the union get their fifth straight at Salt Lake?
Philly has been on both ends of the spectrum in 2017. They have posted a four game losing streak, and a four game winning streak this season. The Union are strongly moving forward after a lackluster first eight games. They have been consistent and dominant over their last five games; scoring 11 goals and conceding just once on their recent six games unbeaten. Philly take this great streak of form to Utah, where RSL have struggled to stop scoring. Over their last five games , RSL has conceded 12 goals and scored two. These teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum ahead of their match. So how can the Union take advantage of this struggling team?
In their last 10 games, the Union have a 4-game losing streak and 4-game winning streak.
— Ryan Bright (@RBrightUnion) May 27, 2017
The Union have put in the work to get to a place where they are consistent at both ends. The attack has been putting the ball in “the olde Onion bag” as color commentator Tommy Smyth says on the Union broadcasts. The mantra of standing together has been the one thing driving this team. When things were down in March and April, the Union coaches, players and sporting director all said that this group is a cohesive one.
Now that things are going Philly’s way, the thought process has the potential to change. However, it doesn’t. The consistency of sticking together as a group and focusing on one thing at a time is shaping this team into one that is stout and lethal. During the win streak the Union’s attitude has not changed, which is why they have been able to deal with this success. It’s one game at a time; one battle at a time. This has led to the Union have a goal differential of +10 over the last six matches. This mentality and consistency has the Union flying high.
The belief in the team and of the talent on the squad has been there all season; the wins were just not coming. The frustrating feeling players and coaches were ones that created questions from the fans and media. Was this system the right one? Was Jim Curtin the right coach? Were the players on the pitch ever going to find success? These questions were all answered by the teams first win. The 3-0 win against the rivaled New York Red Bulls created the spark the team need. The proof was there, this system will work, and these coaches and players can make it work.
The belief was there. This along with the recent consistency finds the Union as a dangerous team for teams to deal with. The results that have followed the Red Bull game have been all because of the belief that everyone at the club had. It has helped the Union fly high, and get themselves in position to get back into the very competitive eastern conference. The Union should be able to fly even higher in this coming match thanks to a suspension to RSL’s captain.
US international, Kyle Beckerman, is suspended for the match against the Union. He was suspended by the MLS disciplinary committee after a hard challenge he committed in Salt Lakes last match. Without him in the middle of the field mucking up the Union’s chances there should be some extra room for the Union to work. The middle of the field can now be dominated by Medunjanin, Bedoya and either Ilsinho or Alberg. This give the Union a huge advantage, but they shouldn’t count RSL out.
Salt Lake has some great players. Goal keeper Nick Rimando has been playing out of his mind recently, and the RSL attack is still very scary. Movsisyan, Plata, Savarino, Rusnák and Mulholland are all able to create something out of nothing. The Union will need to be disciplined as they try to stop this lethal attack. Luckily for the Union the string-puller for RSL, Beckerman, is not going to be out there. The Union are dealing with possible omissions from their squad as well.
Major implications for Union/RSL. Middle of field more vulnerable, could mean big days for Ilsinho/CJ/Haris. https://t.co/K1o0gNjwHJ
— Jacob Born (@Jacob_Born) May 25, 2017
The Union have been without Roland Alberg for a few games, and could be without him again. He’s questionable for the upcoming match. His replacement Ilsinho has been brilliant at the number 10 role. He too is dealing with a knock. With that, you’d look to maybe Herbers stepping into that spot if Ilsinho and Alberg can’t go, but he’s out two-four weeks after suffering an injury last weekend. Could this be the first start for rookie Adam Najem? Possibly, but this all stems on Ilsinho and Alberg’s health. Looking at good injury news Josh Yaro has been back on the practice field for the last week. For more on that, Kevin Kinkead wrote this great piece on Josh Yaro’s progress!
One nugget from the game notes: Ilsinho is listed as questionable with a "right gastric strain" (I think that's a calf?). Alberg also quest.
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) May 27, 2017
The Union take their five straight wins and six straight unbeaten streak to Salt Lake. The Union have never won at Rio Tinto stadium, but are looking to change that. They have a great opportunity to do so, as both of these teams are trending different ways. Staying strong defensively, maintaining the majority of possession, and putting the ball in the net should help the Union secure another win.
The Union take on Real Salt Lake on Comcast Sports Net and MLS Live at 8pm. Philly’s five game win streak is on the line; a win could see the Union move above the red line! For live tweets, retweets and soccer twitter banter follow @TGing21 on twitter! Come back to Philly Sports network for analysis of the match against RSL, as well as a fun look at how the 2017 Union look a lot like the 2016 Red Bulls. Until then, peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports