Philadelphia Union: Thoughts On The Season So Far

Mar 20, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) runs with the ball against the New England Revolution during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. The Philadelphia Union won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union forward C.J. Sapong (17) runs with the ball against the New England Revolution during the second half at Talen Energy Stadium. The Philadelphia Union won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Yesterday, the Philadelphia Union took on the New England Revolution in their home opener at Talen Energy Stadium winning 3-0. Check out the highlights here!

After the Philadelphia Union’s third game of the season, it’s time to take a way too early look at their current trends. The Philadelphia Union have used a mixture of tactics starting the FC Dallas game in a possession style (which failed miserably) but for the second game against Columbus, the Union swapped to a high-pressure counter-attacking style of play. It worked wonders as the Philadelphia Union picked up a surprising 2-1 win and controlled the match throughout. Against the New England Revolution, the Philadelphia Union seemed to combine the two maintaining possession during points while also striking with a devastating counter attack led by fullbacks Fabiano and Keegan Rosenberry pushing high up the pitch.

During yesterday’s game, the Philadelphia Union put in one of their best performances under coach Jim Curtin. CJ Sapong opened the scoring in the 17th minute by taking a cross from Fabiano and after a Revolution defender whiffed on the clearance, Sapong knocked it in for a goal. In the 33rd minute, Sapong doubled his tally by taking a ground cross that Warren Crevalle put into a great area and putting it past Shuttleworth for a true strikers’ goal. To close out the scoring Leo Fernandes, who came on as a sub in the 77th minute for Ilsinho, put the ball past everyone allowing Sebastian Le Toux, who came in as a sub for Roland Alberg in the 58th minute, to  knock it into an empty net.

With the Philadelphia Union being off next week (which is great because they need to get healthy) we’ve reached a good marker to take stock of where the team is currently. After the offseason change with Earnie Stewart changing the organization from the top down and having the preseason to clean up tactics this is a good point to sit back and analyze.

Key takeaways thus far:

CJ Sapong is rewarding the Philadelphia Union’s faith in him. After being signed to a three-year contract extension near the end of the offseason Sapong now has job security. He’s taking that job security and playing awesome soccer for the Union. While a striker will always be measured by their goals Sapong also has great hold-up play to allow other players time to get into good positions.

More from Section 215

When Roland Alberg and CJ Sapong get in sync, look out. Today was Alberg’s first start for the Philadelphia Union and his lack of chemistry with his teammates showed. Alberg started the game in the number ten role and his final ball wasn’t fully there. There was a clear chance when Alberg floated a ball over the Revolution’s backline but Sapong stopped running because he wasn’t expecting it. After the half, Alberg moved to the wing, where he looked better due to his dribbling skill but the final ball still wasn’t there.

Andre Blake is the most important player to the Union this season. Blake is leading Major League Soccer in saves through three games. While it’s easy to see that without him the Union would have conceded more goals what goes beyond the boxscore are his leadership qualities. During games, Blake can be seen barking out orders to his backline which is something that the team wants to see from their number one goalkeeper. When there are inexperienced players like Ken Tribbett and Keegan Rosenberry on the backline having a vocal leader at keeper goes a long way.

Warren Crevalle deserves an extended look as a starting midfielder. Brought into the starting XI due to injuries to Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, and Tranquillo Barnetta, Crevalle has impressed as the number 8 midfielder. Crevalle has a true box to box presence and played many key passes forward in the past few games. When Nogueira returns, it should be Brian Carroll that sees the bench, not Crevalle.

Ilsinho will be a great signing once he is in shape. Prior to the game, one of the announcers mentioned that Ilsinho came into the preseason at 209 pounds when his normal playing weight is around 187. Currently, Ilsinho is around 190 so he’s getting there. During today’s game, he was visibly winded on some runs and also had trouble getting air on his crosses. Once he rounds into playing form he’s going to be a terror for opposing defenses because his dribbling skills are already there for him to work into good areas.

Next: Five Must-See Games this Season

There are other things such as Keegan Rosenberry’s long balls forward and Fabinho being a beast at left back that are stories to watch during the early season. The important thing is that this Union team is fun to watch and that’s a huge improvement from this time last year when they became unwatchable at points. All I have to ask is can it be April 2nd when the Union take on the Chicago Fire already? I’m ready to Doop again!