It’s been almost three years since the Philadelphia Union found itself at the top of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference this late in the season, and I don’t see that changing after this weekend. Coach Jim Curtin has been pulling all the right strings lately. Whether it be players missing time due to injury, suspension or personal reasons, they still remain a cohesive unit on the field, regardless of the lineup. In their ten matches this year, the Union have had goals scored by nine different players and assists by seven. These are remarkable numbers.
They say you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, however, the New England Revolution are coming to town. Currently sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference and sporting one of the worst goal differentials (-9) in all of Major League Soccer, second only to win-less Colorado, the Revolution are already in a do-or-die situation. Even though they will be on the road, and the norm in MLS is to go for the single road point, they’ve put themselves in the unenviable position of having to go for broke in every match from this point going forward.
Speaking of the Revolution’s road record, they are currently 0-2-2 on the season, which isn’t horrible. Now, if you look at their road record since 2016, I said 2016, they’ve won only 5 matches away from Gillette Stadium. 5-34-16 on the road in the past three plus seasons, making them one of the worst road clubs in recent memory. To add to their troubles, starting right back, Brandon Bye, and starting center back, Jalil Anibaba, were both red-carded last week for unsporting behavior, making their porous defense even thinner this week.
The focus of their offense has been Spanish midfielder, Charles Gil. Signed as a designated player in January, he spent time in both La Liga and the English Premiere League. The speedy Spaniard can create headaches for opponents. Three goals and two assists through ten games is a bit short of what their supporters and second-year coach Brad Friedel expected, but Gil hasn’t had much help. Juan Agudelo remains a talented forward that the defense needs to keep an eye on, but hasn’t broken out yet.
The biggest piece missing in 2019 has been Diego Fagundez. He’s been absent three matches and has started only four. If he doesn’t get back into his 2018 form (9 goals/10 assists), the Revolution will remain near the bottom of the East. On the positive side, they scored four of their ten goals on the season last week in a draw against Sporting Kansas City. Could this mean their offense is coming around?
Expect lots of changes for the Union on Saturday night. It will be their third match in eight days, including a flight that should have been chartered from Vancouver that wasn’t, and rest will be imperative for some of their regulars. Kai Wagner will return to left back after his two-game suspension. Aurélien Collin filled in admirably a few weeks ago against Montreal and I expect him to fill in at one of the center back positions.
Sounds a little crazy but it’s possible three starting midfielders will be left out of the lineup as well. Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya are two of the oldest players on the roster and have played every minute of every match thus far, including Wednesday night’s win against FC Cincinnati. Rookie sensation Brenden Aaronson has been magnificent, but has really been banged around the past two matches. All three need a blow or they could get worn down before the summer hits. It’s possible Aaronson will be in the 18 but I’m counting Medunjanin and Bedoya out for this one. But don’t fret Union supporters! Your club is deep, talented, and ready for another win.
Union: 3 Revolution: 1
Union Man of the Match: Marco Fabián
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Peace out Union fans!
Mandatory Credit: Elizabeth Robertson/Philly.com