With only five matches remaining in the 2019 season, there’s at least one Philadelphia Union record that stands a fair chance of falling before the end of the year.
The Union’s recently extended striker, Kacper Przybyłko, only needs another three goals to tie CJ Sapong’s single season goal scoring record of 16 set back in 2017. And anyone who wants to see the Union finish the season at the top of the Eastern Conference should be rooting for him to break that record.
The logic behind this is pretty straightforward. The best way for the Union to finish first in the East and earn a first round bye in the playoffs is to win all five of their remaining matches. That’s easier said than done with teams like Los Angeles FC and New York City FC and a stretch of three road games in a week on the horizon. To get those wins, the Union are going to need their main striker to be scoring.
As last week’s performance against Atlanta United showed, the Union are at their best when Przybyłko is having a good night. His 86th minute strike and assist to set up Sergio Santos two minutes later led the Union to a vital 3-1 win. This after scoring a goal and adding two assists in a 5-1 win over D.C. United.
On the flip side, the Union’s performances when Przybyłko isn’t a major factor in a match have been dreadful. He struggled to get involved in the away matches against Real Salt Lake, Montreal, and Chicago and those results speak for themselves. If the Union want to build momentum for the playoffs, they can’t afford any more matches like those.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the worst thing if another player such as Marco Fabian or Andrew Wooten started scoring the goals instead of Przybyłko. But no other Union player has demonstrated the goal scoring flexibility that Przybyłko has shown in 2019.
He has scored early in matches and also at the death. He has finished some tap-ins and he’s rocketed in a few from distance. Getting goals from Przybyłko is usually an indicator that the entire Union offense has put together a successful, multi-dimensional attack that day. And that’s what they need in every match to finish out the season.
So if the Union are expecting to get the wins, they need to see Przybyłko on the scoresheet. In fact, their record in 2019 is a respectable 7-2-3 when he gets a goal. And they haven’t lost a match where he scored since the 4-2 defeat at NYCFC in June.
The likelihood of Sapong’s record falling this season will most likely be determined by whether Przybyłko can maintain his momentum from the his last two matches (2 goals, 3 assists). His goal scoring in 2019 has come slow and steady and he has only managed a single brace this season. So if he goes cold during the final stretch of the season, it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to catch up.
Ideally, Przybyłko will follow Sapong’s template and pad the record with a big performance in the final match of the season. Sapong was able to finish the 2017 season with a brace against Orlando City SC, but that was in a match-up between two teams who were already eliminated from the playoffs.
The Union are finishing 2019 at home against NYCFC, in a match that’s sure to have significant playoff implications. If Przybyłko can put together a multi-goal performance during that match, then not only will he find his name in the Union record books, but he’ll also find his way into a special place in the hearts of all the Union faithful.