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Four things we learned in disappointing 3-1 loss to Portland

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A look back at Saturday’s loss to the Portland Timbers

MLS: Portland Timbers at Philadelphia Union Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Attackers need to say onside

Throughout the game, striker Kacper Przybylko drifted offsides constantly often during sprints to the box where he failed to get back onsides after he didn’t get the ball. However, the play was usually still going on twenty yards behind him with the Union pushing forward. Because of this, the Union were unable to play the ball to their striker and had to rely on other means to get to the box.

Przybylko wasn’t alone in his positioning mistakes. After Sergio Santos was substituted into the match in the 66’, he also drifted offsides, leading to a failure to score and tie the game late.

The repetition of this mistake is obviously a problem and one that Jim Curtin and his staff need to look into before Wednesday’s game against the Colorado Rapids

Ilsinho needs help

Ilsinho is without a doubt one of the most influential players on the Union. His light feet, ability to get around defenders, and quick passes have almost made him into a No. 10 in the right midfield position. However, teams have noted just how dangerous the Brazilian has been, and are instructing their players to put more and more pressure on him to shut him down. Portland was able to keep Ilsinho out of commission for the entire second half, and outside of a pass to Fafa Picault that led to a Przybylko goal, Ilsinho made minimal impact on the field. This leads to two points.

Firstly, Ilsinho needs help. For a large portion of his touches, Ilsinho was left alone to push through two or three defenders, a feat that not even his feet could accomplish. Give Ilsinho someone to play the ball to in a difficult scenario, and work from there. He doesn’t have to do it all.

Secondly, Ilsinho needs to use the help he does get. Even when Ray Gaddis or Alejandro Bedoya was available to take a pass, Ilsinho still dove into the fray and lost the ball. He needs to switch the play up sometimes, otherwise a half-decent defense will just pressure him and force a turnover. He doesn’t have to do it all.

Mid-game adjustments still a positive

There was one positive thing to take away from Saturday’s game, the halftime adjustments made by Curtin to give the Union a fighting chance. They seemed to switch into a 4-3-3 formation at the half, which led to the goal in the 47’.

This is something that the Union never seemed to do last season and in seasons past. No matter what happened, they stuck to the 4-2-3-1 formation, which had minimal success with the same team that was able to fight their way to the top this season. The halftime changes show that this team is willing to break away from the system to win, a refreshing change of pace for fans who have plenty of experience with a team reluctant to change. Unfortunately, the halftime movements didn’t save the Union from defeat, which just shows that while Curtin can change it up mid-game, he needs to learn how to do it right against teams who come to Talen Energy Stadium playing tough defense.

Shot accuracy needs work

The most important thing the Union has to figure out this week is how to improve their accuracy when they’re taking shots. Against Portland, Philadelphia took 18 shots, only five of which were on target. The week prior against the Seattle Sounders, the Union took 20 shots, only six of which we on net. A large portion of the shots against Portland were from near impossible angles where a goal would be a miracle. The rest of the shots were goals from up close that are expected to go in, but the Union just couldn’t find the back of the net.

To win games, you have to score. And to score, you have to be able to get your shots to at least be on goal. Otherwise, you’re heading the wrong way in the standings.