Union Attack is Starting to Click, and Fired on All Cylinders in the First Half
This may come as a shock to Union fans. Apparently there is no rule in the MLS is Back Tournament that states you can only score once per match. Crazy right? In the past 4 games the Union have only scored more than once against Inter Miami. Thursday though the Union players were clinical and finished their chances early. By the 39th minute, they already established a 3-0 lead. The offense operated with more confidence, which was shown in their ability to capitalize on goal scoring opportunities. Much of that is due to the hard work put in by Sergio Santos, as he is the perfect player to pair with Przbylko and Aaronson. His willingness to run full speed nonstop allows the other two attackers to operate with more freedom in the final third. This is best shown by the third goal, when he waits on the weak side of SKC’s defense for the ball to come to him. When Aaronson picks up the ball, you assume he will either make the easy pass to Przybylko or make a run into the box before attempting a cross. Instead, he plays a breathtaking pass to an open Santos at the back post, taking SKC’s defense out of the game, for a simple goal and a 3-0 lead. If the attackers can keep this up, we may be witnessing Brenden Aaronson taking the next step in his development. It is obvious to even the most casual fan that Aaronson has the potential to be something great. Too often though, he’s lacked the final pass or shot to make the most of his play. Tonight he showed a glimpse of what he can truly offer to this team’s attack. Now the pressure will be on to replicate that in the upcoming semifinal match.
Blake Has Another Herculean Performance as Defense Struggles to Prevent Chances
If you take a quick glance at the scoreline, it’s easy to assume the Union won easily. Take a deeper look at the stats, and you realize how important Blake is as GK for this team. Blake was called upon to make 6 saves against SKC, as the Union let their opponents attempt sixteen shots in the game. Seven of those shots were on target, and eight of those were inside the penalty area. While the Union were more clinical in this game, this is a dangerous strategy. Blake has been an absolute stud in goal since this tournament began, and the reason we can look forward to the upcoming semifinal game. That being said, Jim Curtin needs to figure out why his defense is constantly unable to deal with the same problems. The Orlando game, which ended in a 1-1 draw, should have taught the lesson already. The defense has struggled to deal with late runs in the box, especially if the midfielders don’t help out. For SKC’s goal Martinez was drawn to the ball, and unable to play his usual quasi-CB role for this play. This left the weak side vulnerable, and Bedoya didn’t recognize the danger until Pulido is already past him. By then it is too late, and Blake doesn’t have any hope of stopping the shot. This, thankfully, did not lead to any additional lapses that jeopardized the lead. In the end, the Union survived and advanced convincingly, but the team needs help Blake out wherever they can.