One of the calling cards for Philadelphia Union in 2020 was not only their spectacular defense that allowed a league-low 20 but the club’s depth that allowed Head Coach Jim Curtin to turn to his bench any time he needed a spark. Midfielders Anthony Fontana and Ilsinho both shared the role of super subs and played key roles in the club’s 2020 Supporters’ Shield winning campaign. While the flair and mastery of Ilsinho was on display in 2019, defenses keyed upon the veteran when he was on the pitch in 2020. Instead of one-on-one match up against against a tired outside back, the 35-year-old battled two or sometimes three defenders in the offensive third of the pitch. Despite the disadvantage, the Brazilian still scored three goals and added two assists in 2020 to rise up the club’s all-time scoring chart.
Ilsinho’s first goal put the Boys in Blue ahead against the hometown Orlando City SC at the MLS is Back Tournament but as the season winded down, he stepped up his play with goals against Inter Miami CF and the game winner against FC Cincinnati on October 7. With a congested schedule the usual sub was called upon to make a start in mid-October against the Montreal Impact where he registered his first two-assist performance by setting up both goals in the 2-1 win.
One could say that the cheat code for 2020 was homegrown Anthony Fontana. Fontana made 17 appearances for the Union and lit up opposing defenses with six goals in just 509 minutes. Fontana’s top performances came against New England Revolution, as he scored both finesse goals (like above). Like Ilsinho who had a game named after him last season, 2020 had the Fontana game. Entering in the 65th minute of play with the match deadlocked at zero, Fontana bagged a brace against the Revs on September 12th. The opening goal with a cheeky chip in the 74th minute by Fontana who turned deflected into a scoring opportunity. After the Revs equalized moments later, Fontana claimed all three points with a blast in the 95th minute.