Who is Responsible for the Philadelphia Union’s turnaround?

There are numerous reasons the Philadelphia Union have climbed from 10th in the Eastern Conference to 5th and with a realistic shot at 4th. The midfield trio of Borek Dockal, Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya have been the biggest reason for this turnaround. But let’s take a look at five individuals who also have been key to one of the best runs in club history. Please let me know your top five in the comments section below…

Cory Burke

It’s still hard for me not to be bitter about this taking sooooo long. What I mean is getting him into the starting lineup and leaving him there. I’ll get to that shortly. Before Burke solidified his position, the Union had a knack for getting plenty of opportunities near goal, but most often not finding the back of the net, or completely failing to get the shot off. For a big guy, soccer-wise, Burke has demonstrated excellent footwork, ability to settle the ball quickly, and can get off a well-paced shot in a second. He doesn’t need time to gather himself as C.J. Sapong needs a moment or two. In nine starts this season, Burke has registered eight goals on only forty-two shots. An average of one goal every five shots has been integral in turning the season around.

“Super Sub” Ilsinho

This one kinda hurts to write, since it was just announced that he will miss at least a month with a torn adductor muscle. It’s the second time Ilshino has injured it in the past few months and this one will most likely take him even longer to recover. He’s looked reinvigorated this season. Coming on the pitch as a sub, Ilsinho has surprisingly looked quicker than ever and has made life hell for tired defenders from the 65th minute on. The quality of the Union’s first offensive sub for the next month will take a dramatic drop in the form of David Accam.

Auston Trusty

The kid is the real deal. Whether paired with Mark McKenzie or Jack Elliot, Trusty has made his mark on this club and will soon with the league. Almost exactly similar in stature to Cory Burke, he has enforced his will upon any and all opposing players who approach the defensive box. The only Union field player to play every minute of every match this season, Trusty is establishing himself as one of the best young center backs in Major League Soccer. An ability to adapt is important, and his chemistry in the back with Elliot has been even better than with McKenzie. He has been the constant out there and looks like he can only get better.

Andre Blake

Since the 3-0 loss at Portland on August 4th, Blake has been a concrete wall, conceding only four goals in six games. Yes, the defense has been solid and the midfield has been more in sync than they’ve been in a few seasons. But, Blake has stood on his head. Spectacular save after spectacular save has kept the boys in blue in almost every match. He was clearly the difference in both victories over New England; their two most important matches during this recent run.

Earnie Stewart’s Departure

Call it coincidence? This run of high-level play across the entire squad, came on the heels of Stewart leaving Chester for the USMNT. Union supporters were scratching their heads at a few national pundits praising Stewart for all of his successes while being the Union sporting director. There was also debate among fans as to the source of the cookie cutter standard lineup every week, regardless of poor results. Was it Stewart or coach Jim Curtin who had final say? Burke was clearly the better choice up top after two months but Jim Curtin would only use him as a sub and spot-starter. What was the source of this stubbornness? At the moment, I’m leaning towards Stewart. And then Curtin tries Sapong on the wing and he’s looked quite comfortable. Coincidence? I think not.

Again, I’d love to see your top 5 in the comments section below.

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Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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