I have the pleasure of covering the Philadelphia Union for two games in this edition of the Hot Topic. Wait, did I say pleasure? The Union did not put up two very good showings that restored faith on the road against New York and at home against Houston. The Union looked listless in both matches, especially in Houston as it took almost a full first half to register a shot.
Not a shot on target, a shot in general.
Philadelphia continues to put together incomplete and uninspiring performances across the board from the back line to the front line. Now the offense has been an issue in recent weeks, but the defense has been suspect throughout the last few matches and it has cost us points against RSL and New York.
What's the issue here? Is it lack of quality, lack of time to gel, or lack of an effective head coach? Perhaps its something completely different and we'll most likely never know.
I posed a question to the Brotherly Game staff. If they chose, who would be the starting back four for Philadelphia?
Lets see what they thought.
JC Escobar (JCEscobar) - The back four should consist of Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Austin Berry and Raymon Gaddis. But honestly, we lack an experienced center back to anchor the line. Okugo is not good enough be it yet.
Nicholas Youngstein (NYoungstein) - Left to right: Gaddis, Berry, Okugo, Williams. Gaddis has had some great games defending 1-on-1, better than anything Fabinho adds to the offense. Berry and Okugo just need some more time together. Williams because I like him over Gaddis on the right.
Barry Evans (bluetooner) - I think you can play around with midfielders/forwards in terms of changing players for games, but defensively you have to have a solid back 4 (and goalkeeper) that play with each other and get used to playing with each other. Whether it is injury issues or tactical, the changing back 4 has to stop. I'd like to see MacMath; Williams (r), Okugo, Berry, Gaddis be the starting back 5 until the WC break.
Frank Cobbina (phillyhoosfan) - Williams, Berry, Okugo, Gaddis. Berry should be the second starter ahead of Wheeler, though he hasn't done himself any favors by his play in 3 games so far. As for left back, it depends on the opponent. If we're playing a team with a speedy right midfielder or winger, put in Gaddis. Otherwise, go for the throat and select Fabinho to add to the attack.
Jared Young (unionoscopy) - Left to right: Gaddis, Berry, Okugo and Williams. If Wheeler needs to play then try him up top. It's not like we've got a bunch of strikers tearing it up there. Give Wheeler's minutes to Hoppenot's and let the defenders play D.
Heather Reppert - Left to right: Fabhino, Berry, Okugo, and Williams. Need a left back that can cross the ball well into the box and Gaddis does not fit that bill.
Regardless of the back four, this team needs stability. If I had to pick a four it would be Gaddis, Okugo, Berry, and Williams.
I understand the logic behind putting Wheeler in for Berry when Berry went down in the New England game, but it says something to me that even when Berry is healthy that Wheeler starts. There's no reason to flip flop back and forth between the two. Berry was the starter on night one and he should be barring injury.
Okugo was our vice captain, until our match against New York when he was supplanted for Maurice Edu. The odds of him not starting in a game this season are slim to none. No need to explain that decision.
As for our outside backs, Gaddis is not the strongest left back going forward, but he really is head over heels better than Fabinho in defending. I can see scenarios down a goal where throwing Fabinho in for Gaddis will help, but he's too weak defensively to be starting.
Do I need to defend my position on Williams? Good.
As I mentioned earlier, this team needs to gel and the fact that it seems everyone that has attended a Union game this season has started in the back does not help. This team has been suspect to say the least and the shuffling around is only causing it to be highlighted.
Let us know what you think in the poll and the comments below!