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Curtin sticking with offense, has decisions to make on back line for D.C. United

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Jack Elliott and Fabinho are both in full training with the club but still questionable for Saturday

Fabinho had his first full day of training back with the team on Wednesday
Matt Ralph

Six games into the season, the Philadelphia Union are dead last in the league in offensive production with only three goals, but don’t expect to see any changes in the attacking side of the lineup head coach Jim Curtin sends out on Saturday against D.C. United.

“You can get maybe a bit of a jolt from being on the bench, but you don’t improve from being on the bench,” Curtin said Wednesday during his weekly press conference when asked if he’d considered benching David Accam and CJ Sapong. “If they weren’t getting any chances or they weren’t involved in our attacks I think it’s a different discussion but those are two guys that are going to be on the field this weekend against D.C. United.”

The attacking duo has one goal between them this season. Accam has not yet registered a point for his new team and has gone 12 games without a goal, seven without an assist dating back to his time with Chicago Fire last season.

Curtin was also asked Wednesday about what homegrown midfielder Anthony Fontana could do to see the field again and his answer centered on Borek Dockal, who has mostly underwhelmed since making his debut the second game of the season. Dockal’s only point so far was a secondary assist on Alejandro Bedoya’s equalizer against the San Jose Earthquakes. That’s the last game the Union scored after dropping two straight 2-0 games.

“(Borek Dockal) is a guy who players around him are still adjusting to the quality and his ability to see things that maybe other people don’t,” Curtin said. “Things maybe haven’t clicked yet, but if you go back even as recently as the Dallas game the cross that he puts in to David. If David’s shot isn’t saved or CJ’s rebound goes in that’s one zero. The narrative can change quickly about the plays and the players we’re talking about. We know that our entire attacking group is one that has a lot of quality and I’m still confident they’ll break out soon.”

On the back line, which showed its youth and inexperience in a game FC Dallas could’ve easily won 4 or 5 nill, Curtin has decisions to make with Jack Elliott and Fabinho both returning from injury. Both were in full training with the team on Wednesday. As was reserve center back Richie Marquez.

“He’s healthy enough to get through a full training session,” Curtin said of Fabinho. “He’ll be in discussion for the 18 for this weekend. As a starter we’re not quite sure yet.”

Curtin said Elliott hasn’t been experiencing any pain in his knee but still remains a question mark. The second-year center back missed the FC Dallas game after leaving the Orlando City game in the second half with a knee injury.

D.C. United has an identical record to the Union, but have scored twice as many goals as the Union (the Union, Seattle Sounders with five and Toronto FC with four are the only other teams with fewer goals). Their defense is average, having conceded 10 goals, which is two more than the Union back line have allowed.

Key for the Union will be scoring first, something they’ve done only once this season in their 2-0 opening night win at home over New England Revolution. All three goals they’ve conceded at home have been in the first half.

“We do still know that we have quality on the field,” Curtin said. “We know that we’re getting good looks at goal. Now it’s gonna to take one guy, maybe it’s a center back scoring a goal off a corner kick, maybe something like that relieves a little bit of pressure. So it’s the entire group, but it takes one play one guy to step up and turn things around.”