Its no secret that the Philadelphia Union have been awful this season, and while fans did not think the season could go further downhill after the month of March, April proved to be no different. Though they did win a game this month, the Union were outscored 11-7 and went 1-1-3, consistently being in the bottom of the MLS power rankings. There have been a lot of lineup changes this month, the removal of goalkeeper Rais M'Bohli, starting the hometown boy John McCarthy in place of M'Bohli, moving central defensive midfielder Maurice Edu to a center back position for Ethan White, and having Michael Lahoud and Brian Carroll as regular starters or subs. With all of these changes, there have been some standouts and some (to put it nicely) slackers.
CJ Sapong: Despite missing games due to his facial injury suffered in Week One against the Colorado Rapids, CJ Sapong has been a solid forward/wing on the field, netting one goal and contributing to another in the five games he played this month. While on the field, CJ has been making excellent runs and been playing good balls leading to shots (or in the case of Eric Ayuk), a goal.
Eric Ayuk: Of course Ayuk is on this list. While he debuted his fan favorite goal celebration for an assist off of teammate Zach Pfeffer's butt against NYCFC, Ayuk has been clever on the ball while on the field and has a goal and assist to show for it. His flips have been featured on the MLS Twitter feed and Vine page, as this succession of flips was perhaps the only captivating thing about the Union in the month of April.
Sebastian Le Toux/Andrew Wenger: When an 18 year old rookie is contributing to a team more than the Union's all time leading goal scorer and a player who has been considered to be one of the most solid wingers in the league, there is a problem. Le Toux and Wenger have combined this year for 1,423 minutes and only have 2 assists to show for it. In comparison, Ayuk, Sapong and Cristian Maidana have played a combined total of 857 minutes and have 4 goals and 3 assists among them. There is no doubt that Le Toux and Wenger have been lacking from what the Union needs offensively, but our defense is running into just as many problems
Brian Carroll: In the month of March, Michael Lahoud played a total of 110 minutes, while in April started every game. Every time the Brian Carroll stepped on the pitch this month, Lahoud was either already playing or starting along side of him. For the 178 minutes that Brian Carroll has played this year, the Union have conceded 8 goals, averaging a goal conceded every 22 minutes Carroll plays. For Lahoud, the Union have averaged a goal conceded every 46 minutes he's on the field. (The Union have been averaging a goal conceded every 47 minutes up through April). While Lahoud is close to being on average with the Union, Brian Carroll needs to show he is still a leader on the team by stepping up and take control of the midfield when he is on the pitch and playing defensively.
John McCarthy: 2014 USL goalkeeper of the year John McCarthy had Union fans in high hopes, that maybe he would be the answer to the goalkeeper issues the Union have been having, but 4 starts and 8 conceded goals later, fans are once again doubting our goalkeepers. Rais M'Bohli will not be joining the team again for an unknown amount of time and Zac MacMath is on loan at Colorado for the season and according to MLS rules about loans cannot return unless Colorado is willing to give him up, so coach Jim Curtain needs to choose between ushering in the era of Andre Blake (who is still recovering from surgery on the meniscus in his knee) or keeping John McCarthy. Statistically speaking, both Blake and McCarthy have averaged a goal conceded every 45 minutes, however Blake has only played one game in his career (2-0 loss at Houston Dynamo in August 2014) so a question for the fans entering the month of May should be, who should start?
What is hurting the Union?
Right now, injuries are killing the Union. With Vincent Nogueira, Maidana, Sapong, Sheanon Williams and Fernando Aristeguieta all being injured at some point in the month of April, the Union have not had a "regular" starting lineup since opening weekend against Colorado. Once players are healthy again, The broken midfield may mend itself around Maidana and Nogueira and we may find hope in the wings with the speedy legs of Sapong and Ayuk, and we can hope and pray Fernando continues to find the back of the net after having a slightly quiet April.