Philadelphia Union have found quite the duo on the backline to start the 2018 season. The youthful center back pairing of Jack Elliott and Auston Trusty has proved to be a healthy combination early in the season. It was a combination that was strong in preseason and has translated from Clearwater to Chester. In two matches so far, the Union as a team has yet to surrender a goal.
For Elliott, the consistency early in the season is a pattern that was shown in his rookie year. The 22-year-old has now started in 31 consecutive MLS regular season matches, while last year he started every match at center back that set a club record for consecutive matches without giving up a goal — helped his case as he finished the season as a Rookie of the Year finalist.
In 2018, Elliott has continued that form and has now been named to MLS Team of the Week for the second time in two matches played this season.
Trusty completes the young center back duo. The 19-year-old Homegrown product from Media, Pennsylvania made his MLS debut on March 3, 2018 in a shutout performance against New England Revolution. Trusty followed up his debut by assisting the backline to a second shutout against Columbus Crew SC this past weekend.
Coming into the weekend, the Crew had shown flash offensively. Columbus had scored five goals in their first two matches of the season, with a pair against the defending MLS Champs Toronto FC and three goals against Montreal Impact, both resulting in wins.
Elliott spoke after the match on Saturday about what a clean sheet against Columbus meant and how he has felt playing alongside Trusty on the backline.
“I mean a clean sheet is a clean sheet. I think yes playing against that team definitely gives you more confidence having them beaten Toronto, Montreal and scored five goals already, so it’s good for us if we can keep going forward with that,” Elliott said. “I feel like we’re very comfortable with each other so far and the system that we play, it works for us.”
The two do in fact look comfortable and their play has reflected that sentiment. Against Columbus, the two combined for 10 clearances on the day, while combining for 158 touches. Overall this season to add to the two clean sheets, the two have combined for 347 touches and 15 clearances in 2018.
The play has been noticeable even for teams on the other side of the bench. After the match Columbus Crew SC Head Coach and Technical Director Gregg Berhalter spoke very highly of the Union Homegrown.
“I think Trusty did well. A couple opportunities we got behind him and Gyasi (Zardes) had a couple chances but he battled.” Berhalter said. “You have to remember how old he is. A center back that young typically has positional problems, and sometimes on the ball they are not that confident. I do not know him that well, but I think he had a good, solid game and looked like he is a high potential player.”
For Union fans, they can look forward to seeing more of Trusty and Elliott as a pair as the season grows and the club continues to earn results, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Trusty, Elliott and the rest of the Boys in Blue will be back in action on March 31 when they hit the road for the first time in 2018 to take on Colorado Rapids.