Player ratings / Union

Stock rising, stock falling: Montreal Impact 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Photo Credit: Philadelphia Union

In the final phase of the Philadelphia Union’s preseason, we were treated to a disappointing performance in the first open preseason match against the Montreal Impact. The loss to the Impact showed that while the Union have made many big signings and are obviously trying new things, there are still some kinks to work out before March 2nd. The Union still have a preseason match against DC United this week to try to prepare, but let’s see whose stock is rising and whose is falling after their first preseason match.


Marco Fabian

Fabian’s debut was solid overall, one of the few positives in an underwhelming Union side. Playing just the first 45 minutes, this preseason match was just meant to be his slow introduction to the club. The best thing that can be said about him is that he will put in the work the Union desperately need in midfield. As the central attacking midfielder Fabian is obviously expected to generate the goal scoring opportunities by passing the ball up to the forwards. However, it was evident on Saturday that he’s both willing and able to drop back to create passes from the back line too. Fabian’s work ethic on top of his already renowned passing and play-making abilities are why his stock is rising even more.

Derrick Jones

Playing less than 30 minutes in the second half, Jones still made his presence known. In the new 4-4-2 diamond formation, Derrick Jones was able to fit in quite nicely and try to generate some offense. He replaced Medunjanin, who was unimpressive for the first 62 minutes and was able to step in to the No. 6 role well. It would be nice to see Jones with Fabian in the midfield diamond together in the next preseason match, because Derrick Jones thrived against Montreal.


This was the first match in a while that featured a different formation. Was it a huge success? No, not really, the Union lost, but that was more to do with the individual players’ performances, not their formation. Earlier closed preseason scrimmages resulted in 10 goals from the Union with this setup, so chalk this open preseason match awkwardness up to the wrong player combinations. It was exciting to finally see an open match that used a diamond and more than one striker. Some players fared better than others in this formation (see above), while others not so much (see below). Either way, the new formation is exciting and once Curtin firms up the lineup, the new formation could pay off for the Union.


CJ Sapong

In a match where offense was lacking, CJ Sapong looked absent this match. The new two striker formation is a change, but that’s no excuse for his absence. He and Fafa Picault didn’t click well together for 62 minutes, missing out on multiple scoring opportunities. Sapong has been trending downwards since last season, never really finding his stride during matches and this match was no different. It wasn’t just Sapong however, the entire Union offense was off on Saturday, but Sapong appeared to be the worst and his stock has been falling for a while now.

Kai Wagner

Kai Wagner’s Union debut was not what anyone was hoping for on Saturday. He was out of position a few times and easily beaten by the Impact’s right flank, 36-year-old Bacary Sagna, who’s cross provided the assist on Montreal’s only goal. Maybe it was because of his unfamiliarity with the formation, lack of motivation to create attacking plays, or whatever, Wagner struggled in this match. He was replaced by Matt Real in the 62nd, which might have been a bit late to take him off seeing as Montreal was taking advantage of Philadelphia’s weak left side for about 45 minutes. Real tightened up the left side though, so expect to see him start the next match while Wagner gets his bearings.

The offense

This is a big group this match, with a mass player change in the 62nd. In this case, Sapong, Picault, Burke, Accam and Ilsinho are the main players that are falling after a poor showing against Montreal. None of these players are new additions this season and shouldn’t really have a problem linking up with one another and the midfield, even with a new formation. Adding another striker in the 4-4-2 formation should have bolstered offense, yet the Union still had the same problem in this match that they had last season: they couldn’t score a goal. Don’t be surprised if we see Santos and Przybylko as the starting strikers in the next preseason match.


  1. Colin stock down.completely lost Urutti on goal.Gave the ball away several times.looked slow to react. Lucky that Marco covered his mistakes at least twice. Stock up# 21 was the only midfielder who played with a sense of understanding the second half. Stock down Kacsper is slow and did not contribute much. This offense looks lost and players are confused. Most forwards and attacking wings and kids looked like this was the first time they ever played together. I think it will get much better when Marco settles in. Harris looks even slower this year and Ilsinio showed none of his magic.

  2. John O'Donnell Jr says:







    • el Pachyderm says:

      I like this a bunch but would keep LB an open competition still. Thinking Kai is a legit player for ET in this formation and just needs a bit more time.

    • Agree. Based on the last performance, that would be my starters… says something about the forwards who played considering Santos and Burke did not see any minutes.
      Don’t disagree with El P about left back over the course of the season. Needs time with the team/system.

    • Vagabond Ben says:

      I’d go with this but with Fontana instead of Aaronson.

  3. John O'Donnell Jr says:



    I think Kai starts the year on Bethlehem Steel to get acclimated to the system.

    • I’d like to see another preseason match with Kai before sending him down to the Steel.

    • Steel have an 18 y/0 Costa Rican youth international who is still officially a trialist because of slow paperwork processing who needs NOT to have minutes taken away.

  4. Steel have an 18 y/0 Costa Rican youth international who is still officially a trialist because of slow paperwork processing who needs NOT to have minutes taken away.

  5. A Center mid combo to try would be Bedoya and Fontana. Aaronson seemed easily exploited defensively.
    That Mbaizo saw no minutes surprised me. Gaddis went 90. If it happens again Weds., something is wrong.

    • The midfielder I think would work best is Bedoya, Fontana & Jones. Two pieces of the future, learning the new system. Jones, defensively, but would have to improve on the longer pass upfield, Fontana, a true box to box workhorse, Bedoya, possibly the best 8 in the league. Aaronson on top of the diamond as he is a true 10, although minutes will be hard to come by with the addition of Fabián.

      I was looking to see who had the advantage up top in the two striker system, I believe Accam may have the most points for any attacking player, but I don’t see him as a starter. I feel Burke and Santos will get the nod opening day. I hope Jim plays the best lineup available and is not obligated to play CJ and Warren. Interestingly, Fontana is the only midfielder with points, not sure he will be given a chance to start as I believe Ernst is not a big fan. Defensively, the concerns are left and right back. Real should be given a shot, I’m not quite sold on Mbaizo just yet.
      It will be an interesting year if everything goes right, and a normal one if the front office screws everything up.

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