One of the nicest things that a coach can have is an impact player that he can inject into a match during crunch time. For Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin, Ilsinho is that player. Not only has the Brazilian impacted matches in 2019, but Skillsinho has also been labeled a "cheat code" by MLSSocccer.com's Matthew Doyle.
The Brazilian has earned that name not only for how he leaves defenders in the dust late in matches but also for how his stepovers and twists lead to points and goals. In 2019, Ilsinho has made 13 appearances, nine as a substitute. During his 513 minutes on the pitch, the veteran has tallied two goals and four assists; he only played four minutes in the win last Sunday but he quickly found Auston Trusty for the winning goal. And that wasn't the first instance of his ability to change matches in an instant.
The "Skillsinho" cheat code was first pressed back in April against FC Dallas, with the Union trailing late in the match. After a Cory Burke equalizer, Ilsinho left his defender in tangle and found Alejandro Bedoya for the walk-off winner.
A few weeks later, the 33-year-old made back-to-back contributions that led to six points for the Boys in Blue. After helping on an insurance goal against FC Cincinnati, Ilsinho came on after a first-half injury and turned the match around against New England Revolution. The Union and Revs were knotted at 1-1 when Skillsinho put his stamp on the match with these tekkers before firing a shot inside the near post to give the Union the lead for good.
It is no surprise that Ilsinho leads the league with seven chances created as a substitute, and it is no surprise that he is tied for the team lead with four assists. While Ilsinho made have Doyle's cheat code label, the foundation for his ability to impact a match is laid by the teammates he replaces. Without the high pressing and tiring defenders, Ilsinho's tekkers might be all for show, and the game-changing moments would not be so frequent.
It's great to have a game-breaker on the sideline. For the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union that is Ilsinho but the individual moves are part of the Union's team philosophy that has allowed each player to thrive with their own unique skillset.
You can catch the Skillsinho show as the Union square off against rival New York Red Bulls at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday, June 8. Tickets can be purchased online here or by clicking the banner below.