Player of the Week

Player of the week: Jack Elliott

Photo: Paul Rudderow

PSP has named a Brit its player of the week a day after our nation celebrated its independence.

Pretty patriotic, right?

Jack Elliot was the only Union defender to start in both Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup clash with New York Red Bulls and Sunday’s league match against New England Revolution. While injury prevented him from playing all 210 possible minutes, the 182 minutes he recorded were Elliott’s best of the season.

On Wednesday, the Red Bulls controlled large portions of the game. They poked and prodded at the edge of box, searching for that final ball. Instead, it was Elliott who stood resolute. He recorded six tackles, three blocks, two interceptions, and five recoveries to go with his seven clearances.

It was his excellent distribution, though, that gave the Union a chance. Elliott’s long pass over the defense was inch-perfect to Roland Alberg, who slotted home the equalizing tally.

On Sunday, Elliott was once again a calming force at the back. He looks every bit as confident and experienced as the 35-year-old to his left.

Elliott has more silk than steel to his style, which compliments Oguchi Onyewu’s game well. It’s a partnership that has combined for five of Philadelphia’s seven shutouts (Onyewu and Elliott each kept one clean sheet with Richie Marquez.) This pairing would have been a surprise at the start of training camp. Onyewu was an old trialist looking to show he had something left.

Elliott was a fourth-round rookie trying to make the roster. He was the fifth or sixth option at centerback, behing guys like Onyewu, Marquez, Joshua Yaro, and Austin Trusty. The West Virginia product looked more likely to find time in Bethlehem than Philadelphia. But an early season injury gave Elliott an opportunity with the Union and he has taken advantage by showing improvement each week and solidifying his name in the starting 11.

As Philadelphia looks to make a run at a second consecutive playoff berth, the organization needs Onyewu and Elliott to continue their stellar play. The team kicks off a three game road trip this week with Kansas City on Thursday. In a league where home field advantage is a legitimate advantage, strong defending will be needed to take points back to Chester.

Often, this feature goes to the goal scorers or the goalkeepers. Andre Blake standing on his head or C.J. Sapong filling the net will always outshine strong defensive work.

This week, Jack Elliott is every bit deserving of it.

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