For the first time since February 29, the Philadelphia Union did not win a game.
As the final whistle blew in Disney, the score stood 1-1. And as much as players and fans can complain about the officiating of the match, the Union was not necessarily the better team against Orlando anyway.
There are several critiques to make of the Union’s performance Monday night, so let’s talk about what happened.
Good news: Andre Blake is back. Bad news:
After watching him up against Orlando City SC, I finally feel confident in saying that GK Andre Blake is back in form and ready to be one of the MLS’ best keepers again. The downside? He really proved himself against Orlando.
Blake finished the game with six saves, just one shy of his seven against NYCFC at the beginning of the tournament. And while he did let one slip through his fingers, Blake still made a solid effort in holding Orlando to just one goal.
Consistently, however, the Union’s back line didn’t hold, leaving Blake as the Union’s defense against City’s attack. From as early on in the match as the first thirty seconds, the Union defense and midfield left players open to attack and pressure Blake.
It’s good to have a keeper as good as Andre Blake. But it’s even better to have a keeper as good as Andre Blake who also has a great supporting cast in the defense and midfield. For the Union to continue in the MLS is Back tournament after their playoff match, they’ll have to put the final piece together.
They need to stay consistent through the whistle
Possible the Union’s biggest shortfall against Orlando was their inability to stay consistent throughout the match. And while the Union has never been a team to push hard for a full 90+ minutes, especially in Orlando, they certainly seemed to let up on the gas on Monday night.
The best example of this came right after Ilsinho scored to put the Union up 1-0. Ilsinho scored at 68’; Mauricio Pereyra scored for Orlando at 70’. Right after the Union scored, Orlando tied the game back up while fans were still celebrating.
In all honesty, the Union rarely had control of the match. And while they did have several moments where they were in control of the moment, Orlando, for the most part, was able to have their way and move the game around as they pleased.
This is the first time that this has happened during the MLS is Back tournament for the Union, however, if they have a tough time against Orlando with game control, better teams in elimination rounds will be an even bigger issue.
Matej Oravec is an enigma
Remember when Union fans got excited about having replacements for Haris Medunjanin in Jose Martinez and Matej Oravec (Mr. Sexy Season)? Evidently Jim Curtin doesn’t.
This isn’t a critique of Jim Curtin by any means whatsoever. Curtin knows his team and he knows who is capable of what. This is a critique of Oravec.
Oravec, who is evidently behind Jack Elliott and Warren Creavalle on the Union’s depth chart for the No. 6 position, isn’t in shape and ready to go, despite having almost seven months to get ready to play. Oravec was signed in January but isn’t ready for July play with his team.
I won’t go too far into a criticism of Oravec, because there’s obviously been limited access to training, however, I’d be surprised to see Oravec see much time, if any, this season. I’d be even more surprised to see him back in a year unless he’s really able to make an impact before the end of the 2020 season.
What are your takeaways from Monday? Share them in the comments.