Player ratings / Preseason

Stock rising, stock falling: Philadelphia Union 2 – 1 D.C. United

Photo: Earl Gardner

The opening match of the season is looming with just a week left, but Philadelphia Union’s penultimate preseason match was enough to show that the heavy changes implemented over the offseason have a chance of working out. Looking lackluster in the first half, the Union were able to bounce back and win a modest, but promising, victory.

Rising 

Kai Wagner

Despite a lackluster start to his public Union debut against Montreal Impact, Kai Wagner impressed against D.C. United. In the Union’s new tactical paradigm, the outside defenders will be asked to contribute significantly on offense. Wagner answered that ask with precision as he carried out the role of left wingback. He executed incisive runs, supplied multiple crosses into the box, and handed picturesque through balls on a platter to the forwards. If he can keep that level of play up without losing too much ground defensively, his first season with the Union should be a successful one.

Andre Blake

The Jamaican goalkeeper has consistently been one of the Union’s most valuable assets, and the preseason match against D.C. United was no exception. He put in a solid performance that kept the Union in the match despite multiple dangerous opportunities for D.C. If he can stay consistent and perform at that level throughout the 2019 season, it will make the difficulty of transitioning

Falling

Auston Trusty

The Union asked a lot of a young defensive line last season and are asking even more this upcoming season. The Union’s emphasis on attacking wingbacks will mean that central defenders, like Auston Trusty, will have little room for mistakes. Unfortunately, the opening goal of the match showed that there is still a lot of space for the young centerback to grow. A slick pass to Rooney cut through the defensive line and past Trusty to allow a clear shot against the Union that Blake had little chance of saving. Cracking the puzzle of getting Trusty and the defense to perform consistently is a key challenge for the Union and one that Coach Jim Curtin and the team are running out of time to figure out.

C.J. Sapong

The worst phrase that can be uttered going into the 2019 season is “same old, same old,” which is one way to describe C.J. Sapong’s lackluster finishing against D.C. United in the second last preseason match. Despite a perfectly adequate supply of opportunities from the defense and the midfield, Sapong was unable to put a goal away. It was only after being subbed out for Fafa Picault that a Union striker was able to score – Cory Burke from a smooth Picault assist. This is not a good sign for Sapong who will be fighting for his spot against new-signing Sergio Santos and a deserving Picault. It seems like Sapong will have a role in the upcoming season, but it might be as a substitute.

10 Comments

  1. Trusty doesn’t worry too much as he didn’t play with his regular partner. It’s also a new system and some hiccups should be expected.
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    Sapong…yup.
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    Blake’s distribution is still suspect as always. If he plays well in the Gold Cup and the Union get offers, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him gone shortly after.

    • Hard to put the blame solely on Trusty for that goal (Elliot and probably mostly Medunjanin) we also to blame. Plus, it was an incredible ball from 2 incredible players. I mean sometimes you have to live with it. Plus, if that’s the type of play it’s going to take to score goals against us I can live with it, that play is not being executed with any sort of consistency.

      • Eddie the Eagle says:

        Not sure you’re watching the same game.
        There’s no excuse for Trusty to be caught on the wrong side of Rooney as the ball is played through, regardless of what happens in front of him. Poor positioning..

    • How does trusty get a start again this year? He has horrible anticipation against passes and zero distributon ability. Then he is called up to the national team? Am i missing something here? He is trash.

  2. Were that goal to have happened against Bethlehem, I would expect coach Burke to tell me exactly who in the midfield two passes before had failed to suppress, obstruct, win, etc.
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    No, Trusty did nt manage to fix it.
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    Neither did he enable Acosta to be in a position to make the pass.
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    It was not the defensively fastest, highest pressure midfield on the pitch for the Union. I suspect they were finding out what they could get away with.

  3. OneManWolfpack says:

    Falling: Haris – I didn’t think he offered much of anything last night.
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    Rising: Aronson – I thought he was noticeable and looked like he belonged out there.

  4. Missed the game. How’d Haris do?
    I am honestly concerned about him shielding our young back line.
    Part of me feels that with this new formation, for the first couple of games, we should either put a true #6 (Jones) or cagey veteran (Bedoya) in that role for at least the first half. Thinking maybe we should play a Mourinho-like don’t concede in the first half, then make adjustments and go win the second half approach.
    While I like seeing the Union win high-scoring games, once you accept that you want to use a high scoring approach, anything can happen.

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