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Three things we learned from the Union’s home draw with Colorado

A stormy night in Chester leads to dropped points at home for a third straight game

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Union are a good team…but not great

It’s far enough into the season to start drawing conclusions about how far this team may go. After dropping points in three straight home games, the Union have fallen back down to earth. Make no mistake, this is the best team we’ve ever seen in Chester, but to say they are true MLS Cup contenders without any additions this summer would be a stretch. Yes, the Western Conference is better than the east this season, but it’s unacceptable for a team to have three straight home games and not win a single one of them. These past few games have given the rest of the league a blueprint for how to slow down the Union, and the team has not been able to answer to the bunker in strategy in the slightest. I expect that to change soon, and the team is still creating more chances than their opponents, but without an elite goal scorer, this team can only go so far.

The Union need to sign an elite goal scorer

Striker by committee worked early in the season when teams were still trying to adjust to the team’s new style of play, but if this team is going to really take it to the next level they need someone who is going to finish the chances they create. Whether it’s Montiero, Fabián, or Aaronson at the number 10 position, all of them have shown the ability to create quality chances, but no one has been able to consistently finish them. Kacper, who missed a late chance to seal it for the Union, was obviously distraught, punching the pitch after the final whistle sounded. He had great movement all game, but since his scoring streak, has gone cold. Santos scored a great goal, but was subbed off early for Fafa, who has been pretty subpar in front of goal this season. Jack Elliott and Ray Gaddis had some of the best scoring chances of the game, which probably shouldn’t ever be the case, although Gaddis almost scored the goal of the season on a half volley from 30 yards out. An elite DP striker (which the Union may be able to afford after shipping Accam and his big salary to Columbus depending on what happens with Monteiro) is the biggest pressing need for the team. Rooney, Altidore, Ibra, Vela, or Josef Martinez would have all won this game, and possibly the last two games for the Union as well, and if they truly want to make this team great, they should fill the last gap in the roster.

Tactical flexibility isn’t always a good thing

The Union came out in a 4-2-3-1 formation similar to how they played last year, and they played like it was last season. I’m not privy to the behind the scenes reason for the tactical shift, or why both Aaronson and Fabián started on the bench, but their only goal came in a high-pressure counter that their 4-4-2 was designed for. For most of the game the Union tried to break down a compact Colorado defense, which almost worked, but again left fans frustrated. I’m not advocating for tactical rigidity like last season, but this team is not Barcelona and will not break down teams consistently by out possessing them. Almost every game last season they won the possession battle and they played some beautiful soccer, but at home you really need to go for the kill and not be content to just pass it around the other team’s box before either turning it over on a poor touch, or trying an ill-advised cross to a space where no one is making a run. I noticed that far too often attackers didn’t make runs into the box to open up space for others, rather two or three of them stood on the back line waiting to be played through. I know it’s difficult when teams sit back and allow possession, but I want to see this team get back to the high pressure, quick counter style we saw earlier in the season.

What did you think of the game? Let us know in the comments