Just three games into the 2015 MLS season, the Philadelphia Union have managed to record three goals, all coming in one game with one being an own goal. They have been shutout in two games, and do not seem to be clicking offensively. The blame for this slow start offensively can be placed on many different players, but is there anyone that stands out particular and needs to improve the most?
This question was posed to the Brotherly Game staff, and there was consistency among answers.
Douglas Gobrecht- As of right now it's all on Maidana and he is injured. Pfeffer had big shoes to fill and he elbowed someone in the head. Who's next? It falls on the ever praised face of the Philadelphia Union, Sebastien Le Toux. He's always stepped his game up when the team needed it and now is no exception. He's a lifer and he's a fan favorite for pace and passion and even though he's aging, he needs to conjure up that magic again. If not, the Union will be looking up the table for an extended period of time.
John Rossi- Wenger is a mismatch for every right back in this league, and he needs that to show on the scoresheet. I'd like to see him take on guys one-on-one and try to create by cutting in from the left.
Colin Campbell- Le Toux and Wenger, they have not been as involved offensively as they had been last season and in preseason. Le Toux needs to find his 12 goal form again or his 7 assist form again, its as simple as that. Hes on an advantage where he wont be benched regardless of form due to Sapong being injured and Fernandes and Cruz being loaned out. Wenger simply needs to be more involved, and playing smart balls to Nando. Also, he needs to try to take some more shots, and take smarter shots. A lot of the time he'll shoot with almost no angle, so if it goes in its a great goal but most of the time its blocked or shot too high
Andrew Stoltzfus- The training staff. Get Sapong and Maidana healthy so we can see the offense with all of its weapons!
Eugene Rupinski- I don't know if it's a matter of someone needing to step up their game as much as it's the offense needing to all get on the same page. All too often plays end when someone makes a pass to no one. Runs aren't being made. Just little things like that that have contributed to the Union being a bit anemic offensively so far. That being said, it's still early in the season and I think the offense will start to click sooner rather than later.
Barry Evans- Le Toux and Wenger are the problem right now. They have been terrible. Maybe Wenger just isn't as good as people believe or want him to be. Maybe he is still being used in the wrong position. There's no point in being physically able to overpower full backs If you don't have talent. Le Toux never has and never will be a good winger for me. His passing is average at best and his touch is terrible. He also isn't someone with the skills to take someone on and beat them. He should only be used as a second striker with Fernando. However they are all the Union have and they need to somehow step it up for the Union to be successful.
Jared Young- Since people have noted the Wenger/Le Toux drop off I'll focus further down the pitch. Edu and Nogueira are accounting for nearly 25% of all the team's touches so far yet they have less key passes than Maidana (combined 7 vs Maidana's 8). Perhaps these two need to push up further and force Wenger and Le Toux into more forward type positions. This is especially needed given the absence of Pfeffer and Maidana. It seems like too many of their touches aren't forcing the action and for a team that plays vertically that's not good enough.
Heather Report- We need Maidana healthy. He adds an element of creativity that is lacking without it. In terms of stepping up, I'd like to see Nogs in better form. All in all the offense just needs to gel together better.
For me, it's always about creating chances, and it does not seem like the Union have the creativity to present threats to the opposition. Le Toux is not playing up to the standards we hold him to, which is the 12-goal and 7-assist campaign that he put together last year, as mentioned above. It also doesn't help that Maidana is currently injured, as he provides a much-needed spark in the midfield. It'll be up to these two, as well as Wenger, to provide support for Aristiguieta, who we all know is capable of finding the back of the net. Union fans know the goals will come (hopefully), but it will be up to the names above to provide these chances and generate a legitimate threat offensively, starting with this Sunday versus the Chicago Fire.
And finally, for some comic relief for those already stressing about this team:
Nicholas Youngstein- Pfeffer needs to get on the same page. No one else was throwin' 'bos. Wenger needs to step his game up. My fantasy team depends on it.