The Philadelphia Union had a quality victory against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday night, and showed the best aspects of their team that they can offer. Because of that, this week’s lessons are only positive. The team didn’t dominate or control the Red Bulls for the whole match, but they played well when they needed to, and left with 3 goals and 3 points.
Let’s talk about the greatest moments from the Union’s play in New Jersey, but keep in mind that this team can still be beaten.
Bring Out the Homegrowns
The biggest storyline from the Union’s match against Red Bull is easily the homegrowns. Brenden Aaronson netted his third goal of the season, Matt Real opened his MLS account with a late goal, Anthony Fontana almost sent a rocket past Ryan Meara, and Mark McKenzie had what head coach Jim Curtin called his best game yet.
The Union’s Academy is clearly working out. Aaronson is set to be sold for a few million to somebody in Europe, and Mark McKenzie is set to go for another few million to somebody else in Europe. And by the way that the others are playing, the Union are set to create some great players through their Academy. Whether they’re some of the best in the MLS or some of the best in a European league, these guys have a solid future.
It remains to be seen as to whether or not the Union will make the system financially worth it, but if Sunday night is any indication, keep playing the kids.
Victor, err, Andrew Wooten
For those who were reading the Brotherly Game twitter feed, I apologize for mis-naming Andrew Wooten. Victor Wooten is a bassist that I started listening to right around the same time when Andrew got signed, so I get them mixed up a bit.
As for Andrew the soccer player, he had a solid match. Wooten is probably one of the most frustrating players on the team, as a forward that plays just about every game but rarely performs. However, against Red Bull he had one of the best performances we’ve seen yet for the Union.
Wooten was involved in the first goal, earning a true assist for the second, scored by Kacper Przybylko. He even almost got a goal of his own off of a Przybylko cross that was stopped by Ryan Meara. Wooten showed us that he has all the pieces of the puzzle, but he might not have assembled that. Wooten may not be the guy that you want as your #3 forward, but he’s seems to want to get there.
Olivier Mbaizo, the Underrated Stud
The tough thing about having a great starting lineup is that when you get to see the good backups, you don’t get to see them for long. With Kai Wagner out for the past two games, 23-year-old Olivier Mbaizo got called up. Against Red Bull, Mbaizo started at left-back and played for 77 minutes. In that time, he got 2 clearances, won 7 tackles, and had 8 interceptions.
Olivier Mbaizo isn’t a homegrown, but he’s still another young player to watch. If he wasn’t playing behind one of the best defenders in the league, he’d be getting solid minutes and performing. Mbaizo isn’t going to consistently start, but in the way that he plays defense and by the way that he’s able to push the ball up field and make other defenders work, he deserves to get called one of the Union’s best subs. Mbaizo will only continue to grow, and when he gets the chance, he’ll shine and prove that he deserves a starting spot.