Near the end of the offseason one-time United States National team player was added to an already bolstered Philadelphia Union roster.
That player was Fabrice “Fafa” Picault. The forward had for the previous two-plus seasons played for FC St. Pauli in Hamburg, Germany and at one point caught the eye of former national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann. Now after character concerns with St. Pauli, he was returning to his home nation and joining a club near to his birth city, New York.
In the preseason and early season, it did not go well for Fafa, who was seemingly headed for great things only a few years earlier. In most the early matchups, he missed out on making the gameday roster. This raised eyebrows due to the lackluster start of the season from the Philadelphia Union’s wide players, and the overall state of the team at the start of the season. Then with a few injuries and dips in form Fafa got more playing time close to the beginning of the recent Union upswing.
Starting with the road game in Los Angeles, Fafa was inserted on the left wing. Now if you know about the Union midfield the left side is generally the scoring side, and the right side puts in the crosses. Chris Pontius was moved from left to right, and Ilsinho was moved to the bench. This change not only seemed to begin an upswing in form from Pontius, but the speed of Picault opened options on the left side, especially when overlapping with Fabinho.
More from Philadelphia Union
- VIDEO: Even Philly Fans Can’t Hate Messi’s First Goal vs Philadelphia Union
- DraftKings Pennsylvania Promo Will Give You $200 Bonus GUARANTEED for Betting Just $5
- Philadelphia Union 2021 MLS season preview
- Don’t laugh, but the Union might be Philadelphia’s next champions
- Philadelphia Union: Previewing upcoming matchup vs Atlanta United
The first game didn’t produce the expected results, but starting with the Philadelphia Union’s first win of the season at home against Red Bulls an upswing began. Fafa was an integral part in beating the Red Bull’s press. In the end, Fafa did not get his chance. Much like the tie against Montreal, he was unable to score a goal that would have sealed the deal, but he helped get CJ Sapong his first hat trick.
Things started to click for the winger in the hallowed halls of RFK. With the Union clearly winning the day, with a man advantage and leading by two goals, Fafa would score his first for the Union. A nice shot from the left side of goal into the right corner. All a part of his general work on the day, pushing the DC United defenders and working the ball towards the goal. Similarly, Fafa was integral in getting a victory against the Houston Dynamo.
Fafa playing as the left winger charged in for a Chris Pontius cross and headed the ball over a defender for what was the game opening, and winning goal. Fafa also pushed a lot for the rest of the game and helped open the space that led to the second goal from Ilsinho. His defensive work throughout the last few games has pushed the envelope and forced him to be an early pick on the starting lineup each week.
A defensive work rate that was not expected of him, and an offensive work rate that should be expected. From fans wondering why he wasn’t starting to an integral part of the union attack in just a few games. Fafa has been a force to reckoned with in the last few games and hopefully, the team will use that in the upcoming months as they continue to push from the cellar to hopefully make it to a second straight playoff.