Lower division football in Germany is not a joke
Two of the best players on the pitch on Saturday played in the lower divisions of Germany before coming to the Union. Kacper Przybylko last played in the reserve team for 1. FC Kaiserslautern in the fourth tier and Kai Wagner for third tier Würzburger Kickers. They finished 1 and 2 for Whoscored ratings in the game with Przybylko leading the team at 8.28 and Wagner second 7.46. Przybylko threaded the needle to Jamiro Monteiro to set up the game-winning goal while Wagner had five tackles, two interceptions, seven clearances and made a key pass on offense that would have been an assist had it not been ruled an own goal.
Ernst Tanner said it when Wagner was signed — and many mistakenly thought he’d come in as a backup to Matt Real — that he rated the third tier in Germany higher than the USL in the U.S. and so far Wagner has proved that point in spades. Working within the confines of the Union’s budget, Tanner has worked wonders leaning on his connections to German football.
Jamiro Monteiro is a keeper
When the David Accam trade was announced, an obvious response was to think that the Union may be targeting a big signing in the summer transfer window and while that could be the case (does it really hurt to dream Olivier Giroud-sized dreams?) the priority at this point has to be keeping Monteiro, who outside of Wagner has been arguably the biggest reason for the Union’s improvement over last season. That Monteiro is the type of player who can cover a ton of ground, tackle and close down players and still have a nose for the goal in the right spots like he showed with the winner against Toronto makes him an invaluable piece in a title contender. It’s going to cost money to keep him — he moved to FC Metz for $3.5 million just last summer — but it’s looking like it would be pretty good money spent.
The more things go wrong, the more things somehow go right
So many things have gone wrong for this team, it feels like every time we put the game on we’re going to see another goalkeeper get hurt or player go down. I was fully expecting when Auston Trusty collided with Carlos Miguel Coronel for 1. Toronto to score and 2. Charlie Lyon to be forced to sub in the game. Somehow Toronto didn’t score and Lyon got to celebrate another goal with his current teammates. Since his arrival from Portland, he’s gotten to “Doop” seven times. Can we keep him around longer?
There’s still a lot of season left
Last week it was the discussion of points per game that was filtering into conversations about the Union being in first place in the Eastern Conference. This week it’s the league tweeting out that the Union and DC United are both in first place even though the Union have the advantage on goal differential (it’s +11 right now and it looks so beautiful) and others pointing out that they aren’t in first place because LAFC leads the Supporters’ Shield race. Whatever.
The Union are playing great soccer, but they also still have 25 league games left. Head coach Jim Curtin has been careful to not to go far with the post-game verbal victory laps, which is smart because the 2016 team spent seven weeks in first place only to fade to sixth place down the stretch and bow out in the first round of the playoffs. There’s a lot to be positive about with this team, especially given the adversity they’ve overcome but we’re a long way off from making travel arrangements for Champions League.
What did you learn from Saturday’s game?