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Three Things We Learned: NYC vs Philadelphia Union

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As the Union come off of a 1-0 victory, we take a look at how the Union looked after a four-month break.

Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych

The Philadelphia Union kicked off their play in the MLS is Back Tournament with a 1-0 against New York City FC on Thursday with the match’s lone goal coming from Captain Alejandro Bedoya in the 63rd minute. While NYC was possibly the more consistent team during the game, the Union still had a strong performance against one of the league’s best.

Union fans have had a long break from Major League Soccer competition, so needless to say, there’s a lot to talk about from this game. Let’s get into it.

The Union Look a Bit Different in Orlando

Thursday’s game gave us a look into what to expect from the Union’s style of play during the Orlando tournament: slow, steady, but ready to explode at any given opportunity. For most of the match the Union, similar to NYCFC, played at a slower tempo to conserve energy in the heat of the Orlando sun.

The tactic seemed to work: the Union had energy when they needed it, and were able to pressure the New York backline while holding their own line. Ultimately, this led to the Union’s push into NYC’s box, which gave Alejandro Bedoya his goal and gave the Union the win.

It’s hard to see the Union changing their style of play as the competition continues, indeed, most teams are likely going to form their tactics in a similar fashion, given that Inter Miami and Orlando SC also had similar styles of play at the tournament opener Wednesday night.

As the saying goes “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And, for now, the Union don’t need to fix anything.

Brenden Aaronson Isn’t Messing Around

Brenden Aaronson stuck to the plan and conserved his energy, but when he was called upon, he made his presence known.

Aaronson spent his time chasing defenders, pushing the ball toward the goal, and, most importantly, creating chaos. His sprint across the box left enough NYC defenders in confusion to give Bedoya his shot on goal. Aaronson even gave his captain a (semi-legal) pick which gave Bedoya the opening to put the ball in the back of the net.

While Aaronson didn’t seem to necessarily bulk up over the break, he’s clearly become a much more physical and confident player that will be a real threat for the Union’s opponents in the next few weeks.

Andre Blake Showed Up to Play

Andre Blake ended last season on a fairly low note, with some fans questioning his place as the starting keeper on the roster, especially after allowing four goals to get by him in the playoffs against the New York Red Bulls.

However, Blake had a solid performance against NYC, finishing the game with a clean sheet — his first for his club in 13 games — while saving 7 of New York’s 17 shots. In the last 15 minutes alone, he notched three saves, one of which came from point-blank range.

While this performance is certainly not a full redemption, it does show a glimmer of hope that Andre Blake is once again back go the form of the world-class keeper we know and love who can save his team when they need him.

What were your takeaways from the match? Share them in the comments.