With six games remaining on the Philadelphia Union schedule, they look to end the year on a winning note despite sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings. There have been few bright spots throughout the long season, but one of those players is C.J. Sapong. He has scored a career high 13 goals this year and added five assists to his profile. Besides Sapong leading the way, no one else on the struggling team has truly shown their talent in the league.
Some goals the Union can set for themselves are to dominate the remaining games on their schedule and make a final push for the playoffs. While making the playoffs this season may be difficult for Philadelphia, they can definitely gain some momentum going into the 2018 MLS season. Another accomplishment they can possibly achieve are to clean up all their mistakes on defense throughout their final games of the long season. There is some hope they can improve their playing style and score goals towards the end of the season. On another note, the team can give us reason to be optimistic going into next season by proving they are a high caliber team and dominant force heading into next season.
Although the Union are seven points from the final playoff spot in the East, there is some hope that they can finish the season off strong and earn the final playoff spot. As if their is no point in staring the regular starters for the remaining games, I think some of the younger players deserve some serious minutes with the first team. Among these players I believe Aaron Jones, Derrick Jones, Marcus Epps, Auston Trusty, and Fabian Herbers, if he returns from injury, should start in most of the last six games as they have played meaningful minutes with the USL affiliate Bethlehem Steel FC.
Some reasons why these young players deserve a chance to play with the Union are because they have played very well and dominated in the USL. The Union could really use their services towards the end of the season because they are struggling to get on a winning streak and stay on one. Derrick Jones and Austin Trusty have already proved they are some of the best young players in the league as they started in the MLS Homegrown Game this year. Herbers had proven he can dish assists and put in the effort on the wing already while Marcus Epps has some time to improve and get some experience on the wing, going forward with the team. Lastly, Aaron Jones deserves a spot on the 18 during the last few games as he has scored some wonderful free kick goals and proved to be a great ball stopper on defense with Bethlehem Steel.
Some players which can improve this season as they gear for the next few matches are Haris Medunjanin, Fafa Picault, and Chris Pontius. An area of improvement for Medunjanin is leadership and better quality of his through balls in the nidfiled. As for Pontius and Picault on the wing, they can show more speed and poise as they get to the end-line by putting in better crosses and pcassionallu holding up the play.
Haris Medunjanin leads the way in assists as he has added eight to this resume this season. Fafa Picault has notched five goals in his first MLS season this year as Pontius is second on the team in assists with six. Roland Alberg sits at second among the team in goals scored as he has put away 6 goals throughout the season.
As the offseason nears, Earnie Stewart and Jim Curtin have a lot of work to do in letting go of a lot of players and signing some playmakers for the future especially at the number 10 position. This Union team is in desperate need of a leader for this relatively young team and someone who can help Sapong score goals up top. Another key factor that should be altered is the Union’s formation as it has not provided enough success and goals throughout this failing season. Coming off their latest 1-1 draw with Minnesota, it was the same old performance this team has been showing for much of the season. The Union will look to bounce back with a win against the New York Red Bulls on the road on September 17. As the Union have three home games remaining, they will look to show their dominance at home as they have posted an 8-4-2 record at Talen Energy Stadium.
The Union have scored a total of 37 goals and added 32 assists throughout this season as they sit in 15th place among goals scored as a team. At this rate they are not on pace to score the 52 goals from last season and not even close to attaining that many goals in the back of the old onion bags. On the defensive side, Andre Blake has made a total of 59 saves this year, and the team has given up a total of 39 goals throughout the season. Andre Blake has earned 7 shutouts while John McCarthy has gotten a total of 1 shutout.
In conclusion, the Philadelphia Union can gain some much needed potential going into next season, if they win most of the last few games on their 2017 campaign. They will truly need to change their playing style and scheme heading into next season if they want to win more games and earn their way into the playoffs come 2018. Lastly, the Union can give their young players a chance to prove their talent and high potential by starting them in the last few games of this season. They could possibly be the next best studs in the league so it is important to get them as many minutes as possible for now, while they are still learning and improving their game. It will be very interesting to see if the Union can somehow make the playoffs this year, but if not the pressure will be on both Jim Curtin and the players to improve and win plenty more games next year in the ever-growing MLS.
“Photo: Mike Reeves/Digital First Media”
“Photo: Paul Redderow/Philly Soccer Page”