In this week’s Bag, we’re talking Ilsinho (blessed be his name), injuries, and whether the streaking Philadelphia Union can keep it up.
Is Ilsinho still winded from that 70-yard run on Wednesday night?
Jordan Wohl: I have to admit this: I was wrong about Ilsinho at the 10. He probably played his last game in the win over Houston while looking extreme comfortable at the 10. He did more defensive work at the 10 then he did on the wings as well. I am unsure if he will play there again on Saturday but could he be the answer at the 10? So far the signs are promising.
John Rossi: I swear to God, Ilsinho had his hands on his hips before the first half ended. There’s no doubt in my mind that he would have loved to take a hit of oxygen à la James Harrison in Super Bowl XLII after that long counterattack. Every part of Ilsinho’s play was fun to watch on Wednesday, from his skill at the #10 spot, to his struggles with defending in the center of the field. I welcome this position change wholeheartedly.
What do you think the Union will do if Bedoya is injured for [tonight]?
Jordan: If Bedoya does miss out, Warren Creavalle probably starts. It’ll be slightly different tactically without Bedoya for Medunjanin, because Creavalle could be a true defensive mid or he could play the 8. Credit has to be give to Medunjanin for his defensive work during this little streak. He's putting up insane defensive stats. I'm not sure you want to move him out of that number six/destroyer role. I'd probably play Creavalle at the eight in the double pivot and let the lineup stay as close to the same as possible.
John: Given their form, their opponent, and their home-field advantage, the Union should start Adam Najem in Bedoya’s place if need be. Najem can replicate Bedoya’s work rate, passing ability, and tendency to go forward, though likely not as well as the USMNTer. Creavalle’s clearly much more defensive, but he struggles on the ball and offers little in possession. If the Union were on the road, they might go with Creavalle, but I don’t think they need that much defense in tonight’s lineup.
After winning three games in a row, will there be any let off against a last place Colorado Rapids team?
Jordan: MLS will MLS, which means anything can happen in any game. Could the Union lay an egg on Saturday? Sure, we've seen the Union come up short in games they should win before. However, something has clicked recently during this three-game win streak. This is a game they should win based upon how they have played recently.
John: As Jordan said, MLS gonna MLS, so I never feel comfortable predicting the outcome of literally any game in this league. The Union are certainly the favorites though, both because of their win streak and also their home-field advantage. Colorado, in addition to losing six of their last seven, are coming off a mid-week game in Chicago where they started a pretty first-choice XI. All that travel in such a short period of time will surely be apparent on the field tonight. When you factor in Colorado’s garbage road record (0-5-0), the Union look like locks to take all three points.
I’ll go on record saying that the Union continue their winning ways tonight, but I do so hesitantly, knowing that MLS can MLS at any time and any place.
If we buy someone this summer, what position?
Jordan: I'm not sure really. I would like to still see a number 10 brought into the club for the future. Aside from that, if Sapong’s form changes, then the calls for a DP striker could become louder.
John: I’m not convinced that the Union will sign anyone else this season. They could sign a #10 or a DP #9, but they could have done that in the offseason. Their depth in goal is pretty weak, so it’s conceivable that they sign a better backup than John McCarthy and waive Jake McGuire.
Where does Mo fit in if/when he returns?
Jordan: Let's be very honest: he probably doesn't. Jack Elliott has surpassed him on the depth chart plus Richie Marquez and Josh Yaro are also in front of him in the center of defense. In the double pivot, Alejandro Bedoya has been superb at the number eight role. Plus, Haris Medunjanin has been great playing alongside of him.
Unless the team is moving Bedoya to the wing, which at this point they aren't, Mo really doesn't fit or has been surpassed by other people on the roster.
It's a shame because he has been such a great ambassador for the club plus has been hampered by unlucky injuries. I'd love to see him come back but I don't believe he fits the starting eleven.
John: Yea, I don’t think Edu has a future with this team. Considering that he hasn’t played an MLS game in more than a year and a half, if he does return, he’d need to do a lot of work physically to prove ready for a spot in the starting XI. If that day does come, there’s no clear place for him in the lineup. He could pair with Medunjanin in the midfield if Curtin decides to slide Bedoya to the #10 again, but I don’t see that happening. Assuming that his mobility has taken a huge hit, center back could be an appropriate spot for him, but he’ll have trouble rising up the depth chart at that position.
As always, we welcome your questions both in the comment section and on Twitter. Make sure to tag them with #BrotherlyBag, and we’ll try our best to answer them for you.