Philadelphia Union already use an aggressive playing philosophy: They want to dominate the tempo of a match by controlling the ball and pressing the opponent to get it back. Ernst Tanner believes in fielding a young, energetic team, so 2019 is only going to get more exciting.
The system that is carrying Philly to the playoffs relies on playing a high back line that squeezes space and forces the other team to play into tight spaces. Then the Union close down the ball and quickly play it forward to release their wingmen, who are talented in one-on-one situations.
Philly also plays quick, one- and two-touch soccer that rotates the ball away from pressure and allows them to create combinations between Borek Dockal, Ale Bedoya, and Haris Medunjanin. Once these central players get the ball, the Union have a lot of freedom to make runs off of them and pull a defense apart.
That balance of rules and freedom is what has made Philadelphia so difficult to defend. The system is not entirely pattern-based, but it does provide some reliable cues that fans can look for when watching a game.
A backwards pass? Union are likely to press it.
Philly wins the ball back? Look for a quick forward pass.
Attacking transition? Watch for the wingers to get wide in space.
An opposing striker checking off the back line? Union center backs will be right there with him.
And the most important thing for the club is that these ideas are executed at home or away, week in and week out.
Ernst Tanner will push these ideas forward, adding elements of play he has learned in Germany and Austria to create new wrinkles that make the team more difficult to stop.
The Union’s system has been developing for three years now, and with a new Sporting Director coming on board there will be added complexity and innovative ideas going forward. Find out what’s happening now so you can be ready for an exciting future.
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