The Philadelphia Union played back to back games against Orlando City SC, winning 3-1 at Orlando in a game which saw two Orlando players sent off, then drew at home with a late equalizer by the red hot Kacper Przybylko in the 90th minute. Here’s three takeaways to go along with the four points the Union took home:
Kacper Przybylko has solidified his starting position
Why does this even have to be stated? Well because this was the last game to audition for a starting role at striker, as newcomer Andrew Wooten will become eligible to play on July 9th, just in time for the Union’s match against Real Salt Lake. The “Wooten Effect” has definitely influenced players, with both Kacper Przybylko and Fafa Picault having some of their strongest games this season since he showed up at the Men in Blazers Live show as the newest member of the Philadelphia Union. Przybylko has scored in four straight matches and brought his season total up to 9, which leads the team and has him sitting in sixth in Major League Soccer.
Not bad for a guy who didn’t play a minute last season.
Wooten isn’t a surefire starter, so this doesn’t mean that Fafa Picault doesn’t have a chance to keep his starting spot (I’m intentionally excluding Sergio Santos from the conversation, as he has had some of his weakest showings to date). But Przybylko can’t be taken off the field and saved a point for the Union in their home game.
The tough times are over and the Union are still in first place
The Union only have one more stretch in which they play more than one game in a week, a very difficult three-game away stretch in which they take on New York Red Bulls (9/22), then travel to San Jose Earthquakes (9/25), then travel again to Columbus Crew (9/29). Other than that, the team should play almost every game fully rested which should help considering they are dealing with two key injuries currently (Montiero and Ilsinho).
Through 21 games in the 2018 MLS season, the Union gathered up 27 points with an 8-10-3 record. The Union would then pull in 23 points in 13 games to set their record of 50 points in a season. This season through 21 games, the Union have collected 36 points with a 10-5-6 record. The team has demonstrated that they can turn some of those losses into ties and even wins. Another promising note: Philadelphia still has six home games left to play, the same amount of home games left at the 21 game mark last season.
Bench depth is good, just not as good without Ilsinho
Ilsinho missed both matches against Orlando with a small injury he picked up against NYCFC. His absence was not as relevant in the Union’s away match against Orlando, as the Lions dug themselves into a hole they couldn’t get out of with two red cards that sealed the three points for the Union. But in their home match, they were unable to break down the bunker that Orlando had set up and didn’t have many options on their bench to call upon. Ilsinho is obviously a one-of-a-kind player capable of extraordinary things, so it’s not realistic to expect great things from every bench player, but there really was no one on the bench the team could turn to. Sergio Santos, who has shown his ability to score off the bench, is in poor form currently and was not able to provide much to the attack.
On the Przybylko goal, the unlikely tandem of Anthony Fontana and Matt Real linked up to set up Kacper and save a point for the Union. The team has good bench options, but it seems like without Ilsinho (and potentially Fafa, if he moves to the bench with Wooten’s arrival), the team might be in trouble of saving points when they are having an off night against the better teams in MLS.
What were your takeaways from the Orlando series? Let’s hear them in the comments.