The Union are gearing up for a crucial part of their 2021 season. Past the halfway point Philly is sitting in third place in the eastern conference. It’s anything but a comfortable place to be, with a congested playoff picture. The Union now play first place New England and Mexican giants Club America in the CCL semifinals in the next five days. This presents some tough decisions that need to be made; will the Union look to their depth at New England ahead of CCL Semifinals?
Union should look to depth at New England
This season the Union has rolled with what Jim Curtin has seen as the best XI players. There’s been very little squad rotation. As the team prepares for two of its biggest matches in their 2021 campaign, decisions on who will play will be key to the teams overall success.
The choice ahead of Curtin is to play his best team against New England, or to save legs for the biggest match in club history in one of the worlds most famous stadiums. The choice seems pretty clear to me…
Philly has to rest the players they want to play in Mexico. It really is that simple, and I feel that Curtin knows that as well. Play the kids and the players who have had little-to-no playing time against New England. Then play the best available XI in Mexico. Who knows, maybe those reserve players will be so hungry against atheism supports shield favorites New England.
New England is class of the east halfway through 2021
New England has been a team on the rise since they hired Bruce Arena a few seasons ago. Their playoff run last year was the meteoric rise the club needed to show their intent. They are for real now.
It pains me to say that this New England team is for real, but after half a season it is a true statement. The Revolution have lost only three times over the first three months of the season. Have only four draws and an impressive MLS leading 11 wins. This teams construction is a testament to the next level of MLS.
Matt Turner, Tajon Buchanan, and DeJaun Holmes have all been developed in the club and are now rumored to have European clubs pining over them. On top of those developed players they’ve brought in relatively unknown stars at the DP level like Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil (who has a slight knock at the moment), and Adam Buksa. This club is clicking and will play their full strength side available to them against a Philly side that shouldn’t be at full strength.
Health is the number one priority for Philly
The Union’s number one priority is to get through the New England match with no injuries. This is where the rotation of the squad is key for this match against the top team in the east. The Union’s starting XI should be completely changed from their victory against Toronto.
New England’s turf is less than ideal to play on right before a big match four days later. While the squad should be rotated, injury could still happen to some important role players that normally fill the Union’s bench. If the match against the Supporters Shield favorites starts to get away from the Union, they should do what’s best for them and not push things too far that could occur in injury.
The rotated Union side should still be competitive and push for points, but they should have a limit put on them if the game is too far out of reach. Will a side that could be 11 players who don’t usually see the pitch pull of the unthinkable? Can they take points off the supporters shield leaders?
Can the Union pull off the unthinkable?
It would fit the Union’s identity to play their kids and backups against the top team in MLS and pull of the unthinkable. Could it really happen this Sunday at New England? If the Union reserves can execute their style of play than they could do just that.
the Union’s high pressing style fits their young homegrowns motor. These kids come out raring and ready to go. Especially when I’m midfield.
The midfield’s quality is key to the Union competing in these matches. If Philly can rotate their entire midfield and rely on their you g guns to get the done, then they will have to dominate the match. If players like Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan, and Paxten Aaronson can control the pace of the match then the Union will have a chance to knick points off the supporters shield favorites.
I see this match as one that will be determined in the first 30 minutes of the match. If the Union can come out and dominate the middle of the field and keep New England narrow, then they’ll have a chance. I see the Union lining up this way:
Freese; Real, Findlay, Collin, Harrial; Turner, McGlynn, Sullivan, Aaronson; Ilsinho, Burke.
The main issue could be this changed backline. If the rotated center backs and inexperienced outside backs let Bou, Buksa, and Buchanan get behind them then New England should win this game in the first half. If they can’t get good chances than this hungry Union midfield and skillful back up attackers could just smash and grab some points from New England!
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Mandatory Credit: PHILADELPHIA UNION, ANDREW ZWARYCH