10thingsPHI

10 things on Philadelphia Union

The Impact returns to MLS action, this Wednesday, as Philadelphia Union, only two points ahead of the Bleu-blanc-noir, visits Stade Saputo in a crucial game for MLS Cup playoff qualification (TVA Sports, 985sports.ca, CJAD 800 – TICKETS). Here are 10 things on the team from the city of brotherly love.

Context

Unbeaten in their last three games in the league, the Philadelphians are currently sitting in eighth in the East, five points away from the red line. The Union took advantage of the two-week break to play a friendly against Swansea City, the only Welsh team in the Premier League, on Saturday night, which ended in a honourable 2-2 draw. Will this game have an impact on the energy deployed by Philly this Wednesday? With three games in eight days in MLS, head coach Jim Curtin will surely have some tough decisions to take, as his squad is weakened by international call-ups, injuries and the possible absence of captain Alejandro Bedoya, who is expecting his second child very soon.

Current form (across all competitions)

D-W-L-W-L-W

Head coach

Jim Curtin (34-42-27 all-time as Philadelphia Union head coach) has been head coach of the Union since June 10, 2014. Curtin first took the job on an interim basis until November 7, 2014, when he was confirmed as first team head coach. A player with Chicago Fire and Chivas USA from 2001 to 2009, Curtin joined the Union Academy in 2010 before moving on to the first team technical staff on November 29, 2012. An assistant coach for almost two years, Curtin replaced John Hackworth, whose bad start to the 2014 season cost him his job, at the helm.

Current top scorer

CJ Sapong (9)

Players to watch

Fabrice Picault (#22) – The American attacking midfielder of Haitian descent is back in North America after a three-year stint in Europe, playing with Sparta Praha, in Czech Republic, and with St. Pauli, in Germany. Since his return, he scored four goals and added an assist. His arrival energized the Union’s flanks.

Ilsinho (#25) – With close to two dribbles per game on average, the Brazilian’s quality on the ball can be lethal. The opposition cannot afford to give him space in the middle…

Roland Alberg (#10) – Even though he has not started a game for over two months, Albert is one to watch. In his team’s last two games, the Dutch both came off the bench to score with virtually his first touch – a penalty and a shot from far, far away.

Team profile

If Bedoya goes, anything goes for this Union team. Since May 6, when the USMNT captain starts, Philadelphia shows a shining record of five wins and a loss. Besides him, holding midfielder Haris Medunjanin, who joined this winter from Israel, likes to spread the ball long and wide, and it pays off, as he already has seven assists this term. Fafá Picault’s arrival also helps the attack to create chances, mostly from the wings on quick transitions to unbalance the defensive line. For its part, the Union defense, led by Oguchy Onyewu, is strong in the duel and does not let go by a chance to play physically.

In 2017 :

Shots on target*

Goals scored from inside the penalty area

Goals scored from outside the penalty area

Goals scored on headers

13th (80)

13th (21)

=7th (4)

4th (7)

Possession (%)

Big chance conversion (%)

Successful passes in attacking third (%)

Duels won (%)

17th (46.6%)

10th (55%)

22nd (57.4%)

3rd (51.3%)

*Source for all data is Opta

Tactical formation

Philly always plays in a 4-2-3-1 and it rarely is a success away from home, taking only six points out of 24 on the road. Lineup against Sporting Kansas City (July 6): McCarthy; Wijnaldum, Onyewu, Elliott, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Jones; Picault, Ilsinho, Pontius; Sapong.

Most recent games against the Impact

On April 22, the Bleu-blanc-noir traveled to Talen Energy Stadium on the back of its first win of the season. The game started pretty badly for the visitors, who had a three-goal deficit to fill after 39 minutes. But Ignacio Piatti and Anthony Jackson-Hamel, twice, brought Montreal back level, allowing the Impact to take a point on the road.

Injuries, absences and call-ups (as of July 17)

G Andre Blake (Jamaica)
D Richie Marquez (knee)
M Maurice Edu (ankle)
M Warren Creavalle (thigh)
M Alejandro Bedoya (expecting second child)
M Chris Pontius (USMNT)
A Fabian Herbers (thigh)

Upcoming games

Columbus Crew SC v Philadelphia Union (MLS, July 22)
Philadelphia Union v Columbus Crew SC (MLS, July 26)
New England Revolution v Philadelphia Union (MLS, July 29)

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