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Philadelphia Union Introduction


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I'll start by saying that I'm in no way an expert on the Union, but as a Yank, and someone who watches the MLS regularly, I felt I could contribute a little preview for those curious.

The Team

The Union have had a very disappointing season this year. Their former manager, Piotr Nowak (former USA assistant) was sacked on June 13th following a poor start to the season (which left Philadelphia as the second worst team in the MLS). The prior season Nowak's Union made the playoffs (10 best teams), losing to cup runners up Houston Dynamo 3-1 on aggregate.

While the Union have disappointed this season, they have won four of their last five MLS matches (notably 2-1 wins over Houston and Los Angeles).

Since John Hackworth took over on an interim basis, Philadelphia have lined up in a 4-5-1 formation (3 attacking mids, two defensive mids), with 19-year old Jack McInerney playing the lone striker position.

Notable Players

Jack McInerney - Striker: The 19 year old has been capped at the U-23 level twice, and featured 15 times as a USA U-17s, scoring 11 goals. Jack has thrived under the recent managerial change, bagging 3 goals in the last 5 games. He saw just 28 minutes in the prior seven games. He's definitely a name to watch, and has a ton of potential playing as a poacher up top.

Freddy Adu - Attacking Mid (outside or inside): Signed with the MLS at 14 years old (the youngest player to do so). He has bounced around in Europe, notably with Benfica and AS Monaco. After struggling to adapt he moved back to the states in 2011. Adu has quite a bit of flair on the ball, and will serve as the creative outlet for Philadelphia (if he plays, of course). Adu played 15, 33, and 11 games with the USA U-17, 20, and under 23 teams, respectively. He has also been capped 17 times at the senior level, scoring 2 goals. Adu (23) is often viewed by U.S. fans as a ton of unreached potential. His lack of motivation and effort has been under the microscope through his whole career, but when he turns it on he's probably Philly's best player.

Carlos Valdes - Central Defender - Valdes is Philadelphia's only MLS All Star game participant this season (they play Chelsea later this month). He is the captain of the team, the rock in the defensive line, and leads a very young defense, (if they play their usual starters of) Okugo (21), Gabriel Farfan (24), and Sheanon Williams (22).

Both fullbacks G. Farfan (not to be confused with his brother Michael, an attacking midfielder) and Williams like to get forward, which allows the creative midfielder to push to the inside of the field.

Lastly, Zac MacMath - GK: This 20 year old broke into the team toward the end of last season. He's considered a very good prospect for the national team, having been capped at the U-17 level 22 times, and the U-20 level 7 times. Klinsmann seems to prefer Chicago's Sean Johnson, and DC's Bill Hamid over McMath, but the MLS is producing a ton of young goalkeepers at the moment. MacMath definitely has a shot at a career overseas, in fact, I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen in the five years.

Statistical leaders

Goals

Lionard Pajoy - 5 (right attacking mid)

Gabriel Gomez - 5 (central mid)

Jack McInerney - 3 (Striker)

Assists

Michael Farfan - 4

McInerney - 2

Pajoy - 2

MLS Team Stats

Goals

Philadelphia - 20 in 17 games (currently 15th out of 19 - should note that the Union have played about 2 less games than most MLS teams)

Goals Against - 19 (3rd best out of 19)

Shots on goal - 54 (last place)

Fouls - 247 (12th)

So, Philadelphia are a team that typically fails to score a lot of goals, but possess a very stingy defense. They are one of (if not) the youngest teams in the MLS, and are a very fun team to watch, for better or worse. When they click, they play a very aggressive flowing style of football, but ultimately their youth, and probably their former manager, have held them back. They have a lot of playmakers, and a lot of potential, but never seem to get the results they need.

I'm by no means an expert on this team, having only seen them play a few times this season (I've seen Okugo and Adu play for the U-23s in person during Olympic qualifiers). Hopefully that provides a little insight to those curious about the team. I'm sure their are probably a couple of Americans on the board that would know a bit more about them (of the MLS teams I do follow closely, Philadelphia isn't one of them).

Basically: Really young, under-performing team with a large amount of potential that they can't seem to grasp at the right moments.

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  • VT Supporter

One thing I should add is that it is **** hot in Philadelphia right now. The heat index (adjusting temperature for humidity) is 104F, which if my math is right is 40C.

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