In a game that was everything like a Batman movie (cold, dark) minus the rain (no, I’ve never watched a Batman movie), the Philadelphia Union earned their second win of the season over the San Jose Earthquakes. It wasn’t always pretty, but goals from Cory Burke and a panenka from Daniel Gazdag sealed the deal for Philly.
It wasn’t the most exciting game, but as with all early-season games, there are some things to learn from it. Let’s dive in.
Thank God for Carranza and Uhre
The easiest thing to take away from Saturday night’s game is just how frustrating Sergio Santos and Cory Burke can be. We’ve all seen worse performances from a forward, but it was really difficult to watch two players who started off the match so well crater downward just a few minutes later.
Admittedly, Santos and Burke looked good at the beginning of the game. A lot of credit should go to Santos for that assist to give the Union the 1-0 lead, it really was a work of art. It’s what he was paid to do: keep driving down the field, simply because he’s bigger and faster than whoever is marking him. Burke’s job on that play wasn’t too hard, but he was still in the right place at the right time.
Past that, it looked like the two didn’t know where they were. Santos had multiple chances throughout the match where he had to beat only San Jose’s keeper James Marcinkowski, and he just kept hammering the ball into Marcinkowski or missing the net entirely. Santos even had the chance to replicate his assist from earlier by driving down the sideline and beating his man, and chose not to do it.
There’s a reason that the Union spent some money on forwards this season. It will be exciting to see Uhre and Carranza pair up together, whenever that day comes.
Jack Elliott: a darn good defender
This may fly under the radar, but Jack Elliott did an excellent job marking Jeremy Ebobisse. The forward hasn’t had as much success in Major League Soccer as he would have liked, but he’s still a dangerous prospect for San Jose.
Ebobisse did his best to get around the field and get open for some runs, but the Union defense, Elliott especially, shut him down well. If you weren’t watching him, it would be hard to know that he played. Ebobisse was limited to two shots, one of which was blocked, the other was off target.
After last week’s frustrations against Montreal from the backline, it was good to see them step up this week.
Is the Union good?
It’s good to win, and Union fans are feeling it right now. Seven points in three games is very respectable, especially for a club that rarely starts seasons on a strong foot. All the same, watching the games doesn’t tell the same story.
The Union is obviously not in peak form right now, but sometimes they look a little too disappointing for an MLS Cup favorite. Moments like Santos and Burke’s from Saturday night hint that the Union has some ways to go.
Most importantly, all three teams that the Union has played are in the bottom three spots in their respective conferences. All the Union has proved thus far is that they belong dangling at the playoff line.
It will be tough to say whether the Union is a team to really look at for a good season right now without seeing the full lineup against a good team. They’ve beaten the teams that they should beat, it’s time to see them beat the teams that they need to beat. NYCFC will be their first real test next week, it’s time for the Union to show who they really are.