There was a lot to be excited about last Saturday night at PPL Park. The team drew another sellout crowd, plus we saw the return of Freddy Adu to MLS and the return of Sebastien Le Toux to the goal scoring column.
On the positive side, the team twice rallied from a goal down to draw level. On the downside, three consecutive draws following a home loss to Colorado, combined with the play of other teams, has Philadelphia in a much tighter spot in the Eastern Conference race.
Their stay in first or second place this entire season could be in jeopardy soon with the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City picking up important points.
This coming Saturday, the Union can help themselves dramatically, or they could hurt themselves as they travel to Columbus to take on the first place Crew. Robert Warzycha’s team hold a three point lead over the second place Union, although Philadelphia do hold a game in hand.
On Wednesday, Houston visit New England, while Sporting Kansas City play host to Portland. Wins by Houston and SKC could really make things interesting in the East.
The Union will have the benefit of Adu in training for the entire week in advance of the Crew game. Despite Adu not really knowing his teammates (one training session) and they not knowing him, we still saw moments of brilliance from the 22-year-old in his 62 minutes of work. He can be a threat during the run of play, wherever he is stationed on the field. In addition, set pieces can become more dangerous with the skilled midfielder in place.
We should also see a more confident Le Toux on Saturday in Columbus. While he still hasn’t scored during the run of play this season, knocking down two penalty kicks under pressure is huge. Had he missed one or both, Philadelphia lose the game and we are talking more about Le Toux today and why he can’t seem to score.
Goal scorers will tell you that a good portion of their game is confidence. Having just one goal in his first 22 games, and missing out on so many chances, had to be on Seba’s mind.
While the team was winning and in first place it was okay if he wasn’t scoring. With the games becoming harder to win now, this is the time when Philadelphia will need Le Toux the most.
Philadelphia will take on a solid defensive side when they meet the Crew this weekend. The team is allowing just under a goal per game. With 11 games left in this regular season, the Union have to find their offense if they hope to make some noise down the stretch and in the playoffs.
I’ll take a closer look at Philadelphia at Columbus at the end of the week.