Commentary / Union

Auston Trusty will be fine

Photo: Marjorie Elzey

Philadelphia Union have responded well to a pair of alarming 4-0 road beatings over the past few weeks. First it was the statement match — a dismantling of D.C. United in the season’s lone nationally televised fixture. A match that screamed “Yeah, we’re not going anywhere.”

Then, this past Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium, it was a much uglier (but just as important) win over Houston. Many of us were skeptical and even critical of the two road blowouts against Real Salt Lake and Montreal Impact, but those last two wins take a lot of the pressure off as the Union head into the final stretch of the season.

A lot of the credit for those six points goes to Jim Curtin. He had some choices to make after a second terrible loss — another road match in D.C. on national TV and something had to give. He changed the formation and made a couple personnel swaps, and it paid off big time. Curtin has been criticized in the past for not making changes when change was calling out, but this time he nailed it.

One of those switches was starting Aurelien Collin over Auston Trusty at Audi Field. It was a bit of an eye-opener because before that match, Trusty had started in 22 of 24 games on the season and played every minute for the 2018 team. He’d been a staple in the lineup and one of the guys that you just expected to see every week. Then, as we saw, the Union dominated in every facet and Collin was solid.

Now, for that first match, Curtin may just have been thinking about rest — rotate Collin in and keep Trusty fresh. How about starting back-to-back games, though? What does that mean? Maybe Collin is the better play right now.

Overall, Trusty has been a very serviceable Major League Soccer center back this season. He’s tall, he’s quick and it’s not often that he gets burned one-on-one. The Union’s defense has majorly improved this season and he’s been part of it. Still, sometimes he does get burned over the top. Sometimes he’ll be playing well and then make a head-scratching mistake out of nowhere. To call Trusty a good center back is one thing, but to call him consistent is another.

At this level, when you see a player week-in and week-out going up against the league’s best, it is very easy to forget that he just turned 21 years old this week. He’s a young homegrown player that his very much still developing and bad mistakes will happen. This recent spell doesn’t mean that Trusty should never play again or even that he has lost his job.

It just means that Collin provides something different. He doesn’t have the pace that Trusty does, but he makes up for it with aerial prowess and physicality. He knows how to rough the opponent up a bit and get away with it. That comes with experience. Collin is far from an MLS All-Star now, but he’s also proven, with an MLS Cup MVP award in his past. He’s 33 years old and he’s been around the block a few times. In the Union’s current situation — first place in the Eastern Conference and battling for a home playoff match — that experience goes a long way. It’s the one thing Trusty can’t bring to the table.

And you know what? That’s okay. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Trusty riding the bench for a couple matches. He’ll be fully fit the next time he gets on the pitch, sure, but more importantly he’ll learn something. No starting job is guaranteed. If you are underperforming, Curtin has every right to make a switch. In some cases, he may have an obligation to make one. The fact that he has an option like Collin on the bench is a luxury to begin with. He used him and it has paid off big time twice now.

The Union travel to Toyota Park on Saturday for a rematch with Chicago Fire and Collin should definitely be in the starting XI. The team is playing well all of the sudden and riding back-to-back wins. Put the same lineup out and roll. Curtin doesn’t have time to worry about Trusty’s form or his mindset on the bench. His job is to win matches and the lineup he’s put out the past two weeks has gotten that job done.

Trusty will be fine. He’ll learn something, he’ll grow, and he’ll become a better player because of it. Right now, though? He’s on a first-place team that needs to break through in the postseason. Winning is all that matters and he better be ready off the bench.


  1. Trusty has had an amazing run of games all things considered, and I definitely think is still growing into his potential.
    I’m not a huge fan of Collin – he tends to freak me out a few times a game – but I like the flexibility going into the final stretch.
    It almost makes me think that Jim is going to game-plan his tactics for each game…
    but then he says something like this
    “Right now, (Mark) and Auston are competing for that spot on the bench”
    …and I get flashbacks to the 2017 Curtin.

    • I tend to take what he says to the media/public with this assumption…
      He’ll be diplomatic, offer some praise for the one starting, quote a “competition” mantra… And he will be mindful to avoid damaging locker room credibility with anything that is best addressed privately.
      Then there are those private one-on-one and team conversations that we will never be privy to.
      I’ve decided to give Jim the benefit of the doubt, though there will always be room for speculation, questions and banter.

  2. I feel like the title of this piece is spot-on.

    Maybe Colin starts for the rest of this season. You know what? That would be fine with me. Because it would mean the defense is playing well, and there was no need to switch anything up again. (Including injuries.)

    Even if that happened, Auston Trusty will be fine. Because he will get every chance to earn his job back in camp next season, and if he lost out, it wouldn’t be because the team preferred an aging veteran journeyman; it would either be because he wasn’t developing right, or because Mark Mackenzie was kicking some ass. But more than likely, Trusty will be back, just like Elliott was back this season, and Rosenberry the season before.

    • Chris Gibbons says:


      • Trusty may become a good defender but this season most of the play is is out of position and gets beat one on one all the time …I’ve wanted Colin to start since we acquired him and finally we are seeing the results of that. Comments on defenders are usually incorrect by those who have never coached or played the sport. Positioning is everything and trusty’s speed and height do not overcome his lack for positioning on the field during the run of play

  3. Yes , Trusty will be fine, right where he is……on the bench….. where he belongs haha.

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