The Philadelphia Union started their second half of the 2019 MLS Season with a visit to Foxborough to face the New England Revolution, who were unbeaten in their last four coming into the contest. After a defensive lapse on a set piece gave New England a 1-0 lead, Philly stole a point after Kacper Pryzbylko tapped in a low cross delivered by Fafa Picault in the 84th minute. Here are a few takeaways from the match:
New England may have cracked the cheat code known as Ilsinho
Ilsinho made a rare appearance at the half, coming on for Brenden Aaronson. It seemed he would immediately make an impact, making several runs down the right side of the field and putting in crosses into the box. But the Revs finally did what no team has really done with Ilsinho, push him inside. Mostly defended by Edgar Castillo, Ilsinho found himself dribbling toward the middle of the field and awkwardly working off of Ray Gaddis and Alejandro Bedoya. While he wasn’t totally ineffective, it seemed the Union were not really prepared for him inserting himself into the midfield.
A side comment for this as well: It seems obvious to say this, but the more time he had on the field, the better the team covered him. In his outstanding performance against New York, he came in and threw the Red Bulls off, but it was in the heat of the game when the Union needed a spark. It just seemed, coming off of a restarted half, Ilsinho wasn’t able to be that spark.
Fafa Picault should start over Sergio Santos
At least for now. Fafa provided the spark normally handled by Ilsinho in this match, and put in the cross that led to the eventual point saving goal for the Union. Picault once again showed both his strengths and weaknesses. He was blazing fast on the field, beating defenders up the middle and down the sidelines. But he also showed his lack of finishing touch again, putting in a weak shot toward the keeper after breaking through the defense with his speed. Santos had a weak game, mostly giving up fouls and complaining about the fouls he was being called for.
This was a game I expected the Union strikers to come out guns blazing, especially with the arrival of Andrew Wooten. Kacper had an okay game, scoring the tying goal and providing lots of hold up play for the team in need of possession. If I had to guess, Fafa and Kacper will be starting up top on Saturday against NYCFC, an important matchup in the Eastern Conference.
The Union were rusty but came away with a point still
The Union’s performance in this game is definitely one to forget. Rust probably played a factor, but as much as I hated Tommy Smyth stating it over and over, there were a lot of bad giveaways and the Union did not look like the first place team in the Eastern Conference. Jamiro Montiero may have been the only player on the field who showed no rust at all, being his usual disruptive self in the midfield. But other than that, the team played much slower, and couldn’t penetrate a defense that they dropped six goals on earlier in the season.
What were your takeaways from last night? Share them in the comments.