There were many questions about the Philadelphia Union roster coming into their match against Columbus Crew. Would Marco Fabian still be suspended? Would Jamiro Montiero be cleared to play? Can the Union even fill up their bench? Are the Union going to switch formations to account for the lack of bench depth?
In the end, David Accam’s performance answered the questions no one was asking: is David Accam healthy and can he get back to the form he played in with Chicago?
Here’s the answer to that question and a few other things we learned from the Columbus game.
Accam is healthy
The Ghanian international endured a massively disappointing 2018 MLS season, scoring once in 23 appearances (he also scored once in US Open Cup play, a penalty kick against Richmond Kickers). Considered to be 4th or 5th on the depth chart at striker, Accam probably would not see much playing time if it were not for the various injuries and international call ups (Burke on INTL duty with Jamaica, Santos/Pryzbylko injured). But he seized his opportunity when it was presented to him.
Not only did David Accam score two goals against a Columbus team that only allowed one goal in their first three matches, but he played the entire 90 minutes, and did not seem to slow down one bit. The goals he scored highlighted his two greatest strengths, speed and the ability to do the dirty work when needed. His first goal was classic Accam, taking a through ball, blowing past his defender, and poking a shot home. His second goal, highlighted his never give up attitude, fighting with three defenders and somehow slotting a ball past Joe Bendik (who had a tough night). The assist he also recorded on Ilsinho’s goal, again showed a level of determination, fighting to win the ball and rolling a pass to the Brazilian for the Union’s third goal.
With this performance, does he jump over guys like Cory Burke and Sergio Santos? Does he start the Union’s next game against FC Cincinnati?
Brenden Aaronson comes back down to Earth, but still looks like a starter
The 18-year-old had himself one heck of a week. He started his first MLS match against 2018 MLS Champion Atlanta United in front of 45,000+ fans at the Mercedes Benz Stadium and scored a goal to earn the Union their first point of the season. But Jim Curtin noted in the post-game press conference that this might have been the game he was more nervous for. Playing in front of friends and family sitting in the stands at Talen Energy Stadium, Aaronson had a tougher time slicing through the Columbus defense.
He did however show his intense work rate, pressing Columbus all game which is something the Union would not get with a guy like Marco Fabian at the number 10 position. His passes were a little less accurate and he found himself being dispossessed several times throughout the match, but still had stretches of quality that can be valuable playing along side Alejandro Bedoya.
Aaronson did cramp up after running hard for 70+ minutes, which sounds like the perfect time to bring on Ilsinho once Fabian takes over the number 10 spot again.
The Union are cup ready
Depth is always a major question with the club, but the Union just trotted out a team with only five subs (only one offensive player), an 18-year-old playing his second MLS game, an aging Brazilian, an unknown backup keeper (Carlos Coronel, who did need not to do anything in this game), and a guy who slumped hard in his first season with Philadelphia, and still managed to pick up three points and three goals.
Depth at midfield is still a question (is it really though?), but there isn’t a lack of attacking players. Philly takes the U.S. Open Cup very seriously and although they have not lifted the trophy yet, they are very much a team built to succeed in the tournament this year. The Union will need to leverage Bethlehem Steel much more once players return from international duty, keeping them fresh and game ready for when their number gets called upon once Cup play begins.