Finishing has been an issue for the Philadelphia Union all season.
With just 10 goals in 11 games, the Union enter Wednesday’s key match at Sporting Kansas City (8:30 p.m., watch on Comcast SportsNet) looking to snap a nine-match winless skid.
Way back on April 12, the Union managed a 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake. That was the last time a Philadelphia player scored from the run of play.
This isn’t the only reason for the club’s recent struggles, but it has been at the front.
“Trying to make sure we go through a lot reps in training to put him in the same position we’re putting him in in games and allow him to have chances to execute,” Union manager John Hackworth said of Wenger during a wide-ranging conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon. “It comes with services. It comes with our combination play in the final third. It comes with his execution. But Andrew is still a guy that we believe in, and we feel like once he gets that down, and it doesn’t have to be Andrew, it might be somebody else, but someone in our team is going to have to step up and make that play.
“And there has to be support, because the issue is not just in front of goal. It’s on the defensive side, too. We have to play a complete game. I’ve felt good about our ball movement in every single game we’ve played. For the most part, we’ve done a good job of putting ourselves in excellent positions to score goals. We just haven’t done it.”
Hackworth was later asked if the club is in search of a new forward in MLS or abroad.
“We’re actually doing both,” Hackworth said. “I think you have to do both continually. You have to look in-league. If you can get a player in-league, you have that player available immediately. If you go outside, you bring a player in from overseas, you talk about the summer transfer window and you’re not going to have that player available until July 15. The reality is we probably have some true, tried and tested players in the league, but you’re not going to lure those top players away from the other teams.
“The summer transfer window opening up specifically in Europe is a really good opportunity for us to go and maybe find a player who’s coming out of contract, is a quality player that we feel can make a difference for us. So we’re certainly doing our homework in all those areas to try to find that type of player.”
For the current players, it’s simply about executing.
Chances have been there in virtually every match. For one reason or another, finishing has continued to be a problem.
It’s a problem the players are determined to fix.
“I’m frustrated,” Wenger said. “The rest of us are frustrated. You can say we have new guys or that we’re getting unlucky, but at some point, I don’t know, I’m just frustrated right now. We can’t score goals right now. You should be able in this league to score two goals a game and win every game. It’s the honest truth. And we haven’t scored in – I don’t even know the last time. I think we all have confidence that they’ll come but we need to get it done and get our confidence going.
“The guys in here are all so talented and we have the ability to score. We just need to do it starting now. The time is now. There’s no time to say it’s early. We need to get a positive result and take it from there.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org