Philadelphia Union look to re-establish attack in second game vs Columbus


The Union dropped their second straight game, losing to Columbus 1-0 last Saturday. The two away matches agaisnt eastern conference opponents contained much-needed points for Union playoff hopes. Getting zero points out of a possible six makes things much more difficult for the Union moving forward. The problem with Philly lies where it has all season, the attack. There is a lack of creation that has plagued this team all season. For the any hopes of making playoff run, Philly needs to get their attack flowing again. The Union look to reestablish attack in the second game vs Columbus.


Philly vs Columbus part 1:

Passing without a purpose:

The Union did a good job in Columbus passing the ball. The issue was that there was no creative final pass. While the chart above may look good, it was a lot of lateral passing that turned into backwards passes to restart the attack. Adam Najem made his first start for the Union and was a bright spot at the 10. His movement was good. He helped out defensively and tried to spark attacks. He had two of the three key attacking passes in the game. Najem did well enough to get more playing time. Unfortunately he, and other players will need to do better in the attack.


Union’s attack and midfield playmakers didn’t do enough:

The Union were without Roland Alberg, because of suspension, and CJ Sapong and Fafa Picault because of injuries. Those players account for 20 of the teams 26 goals on the season. Jay Simpson, Marcus Epps, and Ilsinho did little to help the attack. They couldn’t draw out the three center backs  Columbus played with. The defensive midfield pairing of Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya were reunited and showed well. Haris Medunjanin tried to be the deep laying playmaker for the Union, but couldn’t do much to spark the attack. Bedoya’s play stood out among the teams, his tenaciousness helped keep Columbus at bay for much of the game. The defense was one built to bend but not break.


McCarthy stands tall, defense makes one key mistake:

Josh Yaro made a start and played alongside Wijnaldum, Elliot and Gaddis. They played well as a unit in front of John McCarthy (who had another quite but strong performance). If it wasn’t for an unfortunate misdirected clearance by Yaro the match may have ended in a 0-0 draw. This group did well enough defensively but made one crucial mistake. This is just like how the offense did a great job passing, but couldn’t get any actual attempts on goal. The Union have to be better playing agaisnt Columbus at home, and they may just be able to do that.


Philly vs Columbus part 2:

The Union should have a few of their normal offensive starters back this week. That plus some other changes could give the Union the edge in their second match agaisnt Columbus.


Sapong’s play up top will create chances:

Sapong has proven that he is an important part of the Union’s offense. He has nine goals on the season, so we know he helps put the ball in the net, but he does much more than that. His ability to start attacks by holding the ball is really what has helped the Union when they have been good this season. He holds the ball with defenders on his back, and looks for channels to play the midfielders forward. It was clear at Columbus that Simpson doesn’t offer this type of play at the nine, and the Union’s lack of offense was the result. With Sapong the Union will be able to actually get shots on goal in the second Columbus match. His hold up play should help make room for players to get in behind the center backs.


Najem or Alberg? who helps the team more:

Curtin praised Najem for his play at Columbus, and said that he deserves more time at the 10 position, so what does this mean for Roland Alberg coming off suspension. Alberg has been sluggish in most of his time on the field this season. He does little defensive work, but when he tries to help out on that end he commits bad fouls. Yes Alberg is a quality scorer, but he isn’t the playmaker that can set up others.

Najem’s fluid play in the attack set up two chances for the Union last week. His ability to work give and goes and find others making good attacking runs is special. He also plays good defense, and shows that he is aware of how to go into tackles. Now is the time to give Najem the starting role over Alberg. Bring on Roland as a super-sub/second striker late in the match for offense. His qualities suit the team better in this role.


Rosenberry to start tonight? Gaddis hurt:

This season has shown the return of Ray Gaddis and the decline of second year right back Keegan Rosenberry. Ray won the spot over Keegan with his great one on one defending. He has been good for the Union, but has also been detrimental to the style of play the Union try to utilize. Philly loves to push their outside backs forward in the attack. Fabinho and Wijnaldum on the left do this well, Gaddis does not do this well on the right. When he does move forward and get the ball, he usually will pass it backwards.

Gaddis hurts the right side of the field in attacking transitions. The Union attack usually comes form crosses from the right side and attacks from the left. This hasn’t been the case with Gaddis in the lineup. He apparently has a knock, so could Keegan come in and make a difference going forward?Rosenberry was so good at helping the attack last season. He’s had a tough sophomore slump with the Union, but now could redeem himself. This opportunity could help the Union’s structure. Keegan will need a good game agaisnt Columbus both going forward in the attack, and defensively stopping their wingers. If he does this, he may just become a regular starter again.


Can Union look to re-establish attack in second game vs Columbus?:

This is a match that Philly will need to win to keep pace with the ever-inclining eastern conference. Here’s how the Union should look tonight:

McCarthy; Wijnaldum, Elliot, Yaro, Rosenberry; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Epps, Najem, Ilsinho; Sapong.
Subs: McGuire; Onyewu, Gaddis, Fabinho, Creavalle, Davies, Alberg.

This Union squad will look to play through Sapong, or down the wings. They will need to draw the Columbus center backs wide to try to find open spaces for attacks. The defense will need to bend and not break agaisnt Columbus attacks as well. If the Union don’t get a good result from this match, and they also don’t work quickly to address lineup issues in this summer transfer window, they will be lost in this crazy competitive eastern conference.


Follow me on twitter @TGing21 for Soccer Twitter fun! Coming soon: A look at the Gold Cup final between USA and Jamaica, a look at who the Union could get in the later stages of the summer transfer window and A look  at if the Union were able to save their playoff hopes Until then, Peace out!


Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports