Well, that game was something. In a game that the Philadelphia Union should’ve won easily, they walked away with only a point in Chester, PA on Sunday night. While the triumphs and failures are still fresh in our minds, let’s take a deeper dive into the Union’s performance vs. the Fire.
Coming out fast
For the first time in a while, the Union finally avoided a sluggish entrance to the match. Even in games that they’ve won, the Union has too often given their opponents the opening minutes of the match to run circles around them and pushed back for a second-half comeback. For fans, that late start has been frustrating, but against the Fire, the Union came out far quicker, getting two corners and three strong chances within the first 10-15 minutes.
Of course, yes, Chicago did score their only goal of the match in those opening minutes after some lazy Union defending on a dangerous cross. That goal is something to focus on because even with the Union’s improvement in playing more than just the last sixty minutes, they still have room to grow in the opening fifteen.
Finish, finish, finish
This takeaway is obvious and quite honestly, disgraceful. The Union took twenty-five shots against the Fire on Sunday night, only five were on target, and only one found the back of the net. For the final 20-30 minutes of the match, the Fire only made a few runs downfield and allowed the Union to just pummel their defense, and still, the Union couldn’t finish.
When the dust was settled, the Union had a full 3.0 expected goals to the Fire’s 0.4. Not walking away with an easy three points is disappointing, to say the least.
Yes, Chicago put together a good defensive effort. They played their cards right and they got themselves all that they wanted coming into the evening, which was a point. All the same, Philadelphia needs to score.
Finding an attacking identity
Without a doubt, the Union’s weakness is their attack. The backline and the defense can consistently hold teams to just one or no goals per match, which is all that’s asked of them.
Part of the weakness in the attack is that the Union just doesn’t have “that guy.” There’s no forward that the Union has found to simply be consistent, who the team can look to score in their moment of need. There’s no boot kissed by God, just a couple kissed by the Pope.
But aside from that, the Union doesn’t know how they want to score right now. Before, the team could score off of a quick counter or a corner kick, but now even those are failing the team, though admittedly, Cory Burke quite likely scores off of his quick run to the box if he isn’t fouled in the 30th minute, and Kai Wagner was able to score off of his gorgeous free-kick.
Maybe the Union is just waiting to get together their full attacking lineup, given that there’s been consistently one player missing for the past few weeks, whether it’s been Cory Burke, Sergio Santos, or yes, Anthony Fontana, who can play up top when he’s called upon late game.
If that’s what the team needs, then their solution will come sooner than later. Santos will return against Toronto FC after his one-game suspension, Fontana looks to be getting healthy, and even Jack de Vries looks like he could see the field soon.
However, if the Union needs more than that, it may be a long season of ties until they can.