With the recent injury to Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake and Union left back Kai Wagner serving a one-match suspension after picking up a red card in the match against Montreal Impact, fans might get the opportunity to see some different faces on the field in Vancouver.

While goalkeepers Matt Freese, Carlos Miguel Coronel and Matt Real are all in the first team spotlight, their experience with Steel FC are the reason for their starting XI considerations. 

Here’s what Steel Head Coach Brendan Burke had to say about the development of each player with his squad in 2019.

Matt Freese

“I think Matt [Freese] is right on schedule with what we would expect from his development so far. He’s had a few games and he probably wants even more games, but he handled the environment really well when he got put into the game the other day. The circumstances were good for him and he handled it well, so that was all really good to see and a positive first step into that environment. He’s very intelligent, very well prepared when he goes into any match setting, he trains hard, he trains a lot and I think this is just the beginning of what will be a very good, long career.”

Carlos Miguel Coronel

“In games the shot stopping has been good, the game management has been good, obviously we give up a lot more chances than the Union would in an average match and a lot more crossing situations and stuff like that. I think it just puts him in that position a lot more where he has to make those decisions, which is good, because then when he has to make one or two in a Union game, hopefully he’s had time now over his four or five games with us to really hone in on that stuff with Assistant Coach Oka Nikolov.”

Matt Real

“He had been sharp up to this point, so today he was a little flat, the field ate him up a couple times in the first half and then you’re off balance and it’s tough to get going. So far this season he’s been really locked in and pushing and concentrating at a high level and his passing has been good and his defending has been better than it has in the past. I’m excited for Matt, he deserves a chance.”

Each player has experience playing for Steel FC this season, giving Burke plenty of opportunities to monitor their development. Freese has played three matches with the Steel this year, earning two wins, recording nine saves and the club’s only shutout in 2019. Coronel has taken the bulk of the clubs matches in goal so far, recording 20 saves through five starts and stopping both penalties that he’s faced this year. Real has played in six matches (all starts) for Steel FC, providing one assist and notching 11 tackles, second-most on the team.  

Przybylko gets first Union minutes

Philadelphia Union forward Kacper Przybylko earned his first minutes with the Union in the club’s match against Montreal Impact over the weekend. Przybylko came on as a second-half substitute for fellow-forward Cory Burke in the 83rd minute. The Bielefeld, Germany native had previously featured for Steel FC this season in two matches while on loan with the club. Przybylko scored in both matches, bagging a brace in the second, and is currently the Steel’s leading goal scorer for 2019.

“He’s an excellent professional and he’s pushing hard for the club, no matter where the club asks him to play on any given day,” Steel Head Coach Brendan Burke stated when asked what he’s seen from the forward this year. “He wants to make sure that he’s setting a good example, as he is one of the older guys in the group when it comes to [Steel], and he’s done that in spades. It’s not lost on us that he’s played for us twice and we’ve won both games with him on the field. He leads the line well, he’s really intelligent in the way that he moves on both sides of the ball and he helps us connect the game on both sides of the ball. I’m really happy to see him be rewarded, even in a small way, over the weekend and I hope he keeps pushing.”

While Steel FC is off this weekend, the first team is off to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place for a match on Saturday, April 27 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

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