10things_PHIvMTL

10 things on Philadelphia Union

A crucial trip for the Impact looms, this Saturday at 8pm, as the team visits Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium (TVA Sports 2, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690), for the third and last game between both clubs in this 2017 MLS regular season. Here are 10 things on the DOOP.

Context

Win at home, lose away: that’s the Union’s trend these times around. Philadelphia is currently just ahead of Montreal in the Eastern Conference standings, two points in front; we still remember that 3-3 draw back in April, when the Bleu-blanc-noir came back from three goals down to snatch a point away from Philly. Otherwise, after the official implementation of the video review system in MLS, it was first used during a Union game, last Saturday, to overturn a goal awarded to the visiting FC Dallas.

Current form (across all competitions)

W-L-W-L-L-D

Head coach

Jim Curtin (36-45-27 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 (12)

Players to watch

1. 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 five goals and added an assist. His arrival energized the Union’s flanks.

2. 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…

3. CJ Sapong (#17) – A strong, tall centre-forward who likes duels, physical or aerial. He has found again his sharpness in front of goal this season.

Team profile

If Bedoya’s return helped the midfield department, after his leave to go with the USMNT to the Gold Cup and, later, to welcome a second child in his family, it’s mostly CJ Sapong’s rise in form that allows the Philadelphians to take points at Talen Energy Stadium, in Chester: along with his three aerial duels won per game, he creates one opportunity on average per 90 minutes and does not miss his scoring chances. The American is supported by Fafà Picault, but even more by Ilson Jr., who has been doing as he wishes recently. Thus, Philadelphia has won its last four home games in MLS, scoring 10 goals and allowing only one. For its part, the defense, with Oguchi Onyewu as a leader, is strong in the duel and does not let pass an opportunity 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

=11th (101)

12th (27)

=9th (5)

=7th (7)

Possession (%)

Big chance conversion (%)

Successful passes in attacking third (%)

Duels won (%)

17th (46.9%)

6th (59.2%)

20th (58.8%)

=7th (50.8%)

*Source for all data is Opta

Tactical formation

Philly always plays in a 4-2-3-1 and it is a success at home. Lineup against FC Dallas (August 5): McCarthy; Wijnaldum, Onyewu, Elliott, Gaddis; Medunjanin, Bedoya; Picault, Ilsinho, Pontius; Sapong.

Most recent games against the Impact

That was a game the Impact could not lose, this past July 19 at Stade Saputo. The Bleu-blanc-noir took maximum points thanks to goals by Salazar, with a header, and Dzemaili, remaining in the hunt for an MLS Cup playoff spot.

Injuries, absences and call-ups (as of August 10)

G Andre Blake (hand)

M Maurice Edu (ankle)

A Fabian Herbers (thigh)

Upcoming games

San Jose Earthquakes v Philadelphia Union (MLS, August 19)
Toronto FC v Philadelphia Union (MLS, August 23)
Philadelphia Union v Atlanta United FC (MLS, August 26)

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