With a new opponent coming to TCF Bank Stadium, we got the lowdown on the Philadelphia Union from Eugene Rupinski of The Brotherly Game.
1) With only a handful of games remaining, is there any chance that Philadelphia can make up the points and sneak into the MLS playoffs?
The Union are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, although when you have to qualify it with "mathematically" the prospects are grim. FiveThirtyEight.com has the Union's playoff chances at 2%. Suffice it to say I'm not making any plans to be watching the Union play in November.
2) A couple months into the season (I believe around May), the team seemed to be on the up and up. Then they stalled again. What has gone wrong?
The Union's four game winning streak was against teams that were rather weak teams (D.C. United, Colorado Rapids) or teams that were bad on the road (New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo). After that, they started playing tougher teams (Real Salt Lake and New York City FC away, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC) and I think to an extent they had been figured out. Teams got wise that the Union's weakness is distribution in the final third. The Union's offense is designed to run through the 10 but neither Roland Alberg nor Ilsinho are consistent enough to handle this week in and week out. The Torontos and NYCFC's of the league figure that out quickly and will prey upon your weaknesses, and unfortunately for us we play those teams a few times a year.
3) If there is one bright spot going towards next season, what would it be?
The Union have a decent core of players, a solid youth academy, and will be able to shed anywhere from $2 to $4.5 million dollars worth of salary during the offseason. If they keep the core together, get rid of the dead weight, and invest in areas of need the club should be able to still be in the playoff hunt at this time next year..
Injures and suspensions:
OUT: F - Fabian Herbers (sports hernia surgery recovery), OUT: D - Ken Tribbett (left Achilles strain), OUT: M - Brian Carroll (lumbar disc herniation), QUESTIONABLE: M - Maurice Edu (left ankle/left tibia surgery recovery), SUSPENDED: M - Alejandro Bedoya (yellow card accumulation), SUSPENDED: D - Josh Yaro (red card)
4-2-3-1 Andre Blake; Giliano Wijnaldum, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Keegan Rosenberry; Haris Medunjanin, Derrick Jones; Fafa Picault, Roland Alberg, Chris Pontius; CJ Sapong