One was an obvious choice; the other was only predictable if you were paying close attention.
Kacper Przybylko has scored in every match since he became a starter, including the game-winner against FC Cincinnati midweek. His late strike as the Union piled on New England Revolution over the weekend merely confirmed that he would be an all-but-guaranteed member of this week’s MLS Team of the Week.
Haris Medunjanin, on the other hand, flew under the radar unless you were paying close attention to the Union. The midfielder notched a pair of assists against the Revs but he was also instrumental in securing the midweek shutout over Cincy with five attacking zone entries while providing a solid base to Philly’s midfield. When you go undefeated and outscore your opponents 8-1, there will always be standout players. But the recognition that Medunjanin had such a strong influence on Philly’s fortunes without scoring one of those eight goals in notable. The big midfielder began the season under a storm of criticism and is now anchoring the midfield on a team that has only given up 11 goals this year. Atlanta, Houston, and LAFC have given up fewer, but only the latter has played 11 games.
Przybylko’s story is equally stunning. Considered by some to be the sixth striker on the roster when preseason began, his workrate in training and production with Bethlehem Steel earned the big man a place in the first eleven against Vancouver. He scored, so Jim Curtin — Coach of the Week Jim Curtin, that is — stuck with him. He scored again. And again.
Now Przybylko is the team’s second leading scorer and the latest player to get into an on-field tiff with Kendall Waston. That dust up was put in the past by Przybylko’s second half goal, and now there seems to be no way Curtin can pull Kacper the Friendly Striker from his first eleven.
One player that is always one of the first names on the lineup sheet. One who has only ever appeared on three starting elevens. Both rose up and made a difference in a pair of home games that were needed to put the Union into first place as the third month of MLS play rumbles on.
Next up for Philly: A trip to Toronto FC that could be a challenge for first place if the Reds defeat Atlanta United on Wednesday. The Union and TFC face off on Saturday, May 11 at 3:00 p.m. ET.