I was lucky enough to attend the Coach’s Chalk Talk session before the last Philadelphia Union home game verses the Houston Dynamo. While there were many interesting points made during this session about the game plan verse the Dynamo, formation, tactics, and player selection; the one thing that really stuck out was a comment made by Assistant Coach Brendan Burke. When asked, "What do the Union really need to continue to improve?" the answer came quick and concise – a Number 10.
The Union lacks that exceptional playmaker or superstar who not only creates scoring chances for others but also puts the ball in the back of the net. So what are the traditional qualities that a Number 10 possesses? Commonly they are extremely technical players who have exceptional vision, can pick the killer pass or cross, and place or power a shot at the highest level. They are creative and can be the difference between a win or a loss.
While I don’t want to speculate on whom the Union should or could bring in next year to fill this role, it should make for an exciting transfer window and some wild rumors. So do the Union have someone that can fill this role for the remainder of this season? Well let’s look at the possibilities:
Keon Daniel – Does have a strong shot, can help on defense, and can provide high quality service when he has time. However, while he does have tremendous skill, Keon tends to disappear for portions of the match.
Danny Cruz – Has a motor that doesn't quit, challenges defenders, not afraid to take players on, and doesn't shy away from contact. He is limited by his technical quality, needs to improve his first touch, and needs to get his head up to see the field more.
Kleberson – The most talented and technical player on the team. The major concerns are: can he go for a full 90 minutes and can he defend as well as attack. What is his fitness level?
Roger Torres – After suffering from injuries last year, what is his level of fitness and health? He is a creative playmaker that can see the field, but at 5’5’’ 137 lbs he can be easily pushed around. While a fan favorite, he has played just over one half hour this season. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t get over what happened last year in DC.
Michael Farfan – This is the hardest one of me. He has vision, that creative sparks, and the ability to pass and shoot the ball. But what is his best position? Is he a winger or an attacking midfielder? There are times when he is out on the field and looks lost. He is strong taking on players and is great with the ball at his feet. Why has this year been a step back since last season?
So after looking at the options I have to say that Keon Daniels selection into the starting lineup makes the most sense. Paired with Carroll in the center it gives the Union the best chance to get three points in my opinion. What I expect to see in Kansas City on Friday is:
Gk – MacMath
D- Fabio, Okugo, Parke, Williams
M- Cruz, Carroll, Daniel, Le Toux
F- McInerney, Casey