Former Seattle Sounder Steve Zakuani reviewed all 26 MLS teams recently and came away impressed with the Philadelphia Union.
“What they’ve done at the attacking end has taken a lot of the plaudits and rightly so,” Zakuani said. “But in the past two games they also showed how stubborn they can be defensively.”
The Union’s defensive record is all the more impressive given how many times Jim Curtin has been forced to rotate his back line due to injuries and a congested fixture schedule. Ray Gaddis is the latest member of the defensive unit to miss time, and Kai Wagner has battled minor knocks all season. Jakob Glesnes opened the year fighting back to fitness and Jack Elliott is currently enduring a spell on the sidelines. Only Mark McKenzie, who spent 2019 fighting through setback after setback before regaining his place in the lineup, has remained fit throughout the 2020 season.
Philly’s defensive depth, and MVP-caliber goalkeeping by Andre Blake, have Zakuani thinking the Union could be on the verge of their first piece of silverware. “With the Crew’s slip-up against Toronto, this Union team will smell blood,” he continued. “They want the Supporters' Shield.”
Given to the club that collects the most points in the regular season, the Supporters’ Shield is a very appropriate trophy for the Union. As a club created by the Philly community, and one that carries the torch for Philadelphia proudly, the Union have their eyes set firmly on the award created by MLS supporters.
However, the shield won’t be enough.
“If they can keep defending at this level and consistently get what Mark McKenzie and Jakob Glesnes have given lately, they have every right to believe they can be the best team in the country,” Zakuani concludes.
Country? With Toronto FC on the horizon on October 3, the Union aren’t settling for best in the US status. Catch a huge Eastern Conference showdown when Philly faces off with TFC on PHL17 at 7:30 p.m. ET on October 3.