On Matchday 1, we learned what type of team the Philadelphia Union are: young, spirited, not quite ready for primetime.
Now it’s time to make adjustments.
Here are a few things Peter Nowak & Co. need to work on before their next match, against D.C. United on April 10:
Discipline: Where was it? A yellow card less than a minute into the game? Toni Stahl’s red card? Not good, and not what one would expect from a Nowak-coached team.
The Union tried to set a precedent as a physical side—understandable for a newcomer—but last week, it approached recklessness. Going a man down before the half killed any chance Philly had of coming back from a goal down. They will have to control their emotions better and channel that aggression into, say, the attack.
The “Build Up”: Players like Roger Torres and Sébastien Le Toux worked well on the ball as individuals, but the Union rarely came together in a complete, flowing package. This is to be expected given that these players have been playing together only a few months, so it’s hard to be too critical. But too often, the Union players were caught in possession rather than moving the ball quickly.
Wide Play: Little was created from the outside. Torres was good on the ball on the right side of the pitch, but he continually cut into the middle and narrowed the attack. Andrew Jacobson was a virtual non-factor on the left. Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno and Danny Mwanga—if Nowak decides to play him in his natural striker position—have the ability to finish if they receive the proper service.
Eleven days remain before D.C. United come to Lincoln Financial Field. For the sake of the home fans, who have been waiting for this moment for months, if not years, the Union need to improve in these three areas, at least. Baby steps.