Philadelphia Union fans were hungry for a home victory against perennial Western Conference elites Seattle Sounders FC Saturday night, but a few missed chances resulted in a 0-0 stalemate.
Despite rifling 20 shots, gaining nearly 68 percent possession, and besting visiting Seattle in every offensive stat column from passing accuracy to crossing percentage to even shots off target. Philadelphia dominated the first of three straight home matches but ultimately failed to grab a goal with just six of those 20 shots reaching the target.
Overall, Head Coach Jim Curtin’s squad strung together a total of 637 passes, 244 of which were completed in the final third for a neat 80% accuracy on the pitch where it matters most – when creating offensive chances.
Perhaps the most creative player to ever sport the blue and gold, Marco Fabian was held out entirely due to a nagging ankle injury. In his place, New Jersey native and resident youngster on the Union’s weekly starting XI, Brenden Aaronson manned the 10 spot. Flanked to his left was Jamiro Monteiro while captain Alejandro Bedoya sat in his normal right mid position.
Aaronson would exit in the 77th minute when Curtin decided to push the offensive by bringing the speedy forward Fafa Picault on in hopes of some game-ending heroics. Call it too little too late or just call it bad luck. Either way you see it, Philadelphia failed to earn a deserved three points Saturday night.
However, on the other hand, Curtin’s squad extended their unbeaten streak to an impressive six straight dating back to April 20th. The Union have been riding high ever since.
Portland Timbers will visit Talen Energy Stadium May 25th. The Union will need yet another top notch performance against an elite Western Conference opponent. A midweek match up against fellow Eastern Conference squad Colorado Rapids Wednesday May 29th caps off the three-match home-stand.
The end of May home stretch could turn out to be a pivotal segment of the 2019 campaign for Curtin and the Union front office staff. After all, since the arrival of Ernst Tanner in Earnie Stewart’s wake, the Union have done well to bring in new players to fulfill vital roles in the weekly lineups.
For example, Kai Wagner has been perhaps the most intriguing player on the pitch for Philadelphia this year. The former Frankfurt player entered this off-season with a lot of potential. However, Wagner has exceeded expectations and has made major impacts in just about every match this season.
Brenden Aaronson and Jamiro Monteiro are other examples of improved quality and depth for this 2019 Union team. Aaronson, having graduated from the USL ranks with Bethlehem Steel FC, has provided a much needed spark in the midfield in Fabian’s absence. Monteiro, likewise, has been a no brainier for Curtin and his staff as a midfield starter. He possesses explosive closing speed and with that comes the ability to cover ground defensively and clog up central channels.
The only anchor so to speak facing Curtin’s club at this point is at the forward position. Sure there are plenty of options, but the prolonged absence of Jamaican international Cory Burke could hamper efforts.
Bottom line at this point of the year is clear: Philadelphia are exceeding expectations as they strive to secure meaningful results in their next two home contests.
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Mandatory Credit: Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports