The Union’s 2020 preseason continued with Jamiro Monteiro rejoining the squad and stepping straight into the starting XI against FC Cincinnati. Forming a diamond midfield with Brenden Aaronson, Ale Bedoya, and Matej Oravec, Monteiro played furthest forward and found himself chasing former Philadelphia teammate Haris Medunjanin.
Sergio Santos and Kacper Przybylko retained their spots in the front line, with Matt Real, Mark McKenzie, Jack Elliott, and Ray Gaddis across the back line in front of Andre Blake.
The Union continued to work toward full fitness with just over two weeks remaining until the season opener and FC Dallas. Cincinnati’s offseason rebuild netted them a dynamic new attack with Medunjanin sitting deep and pulling the strings. Against Philly’s aggressive pressing and direct attacks, the potential strength Cincy has gathered showed through, but it was rarely as coordinated as it will need to be in the regular season.
Meanwhile, the Union struggled to provide service for Przybylko and Santos. “We played into their pressure,” Jim Curtin said after the match. “They picked us off a couple times; we weren’t sharp enough on the ball on the day.”
The Union head coach called the performance “not good enough” and said he will look for a far stronger, more coordinated performance against Inter Miami on Saturday.
The team improved as the match wore on. “Some decent performances from some guys in the second half, had some decent chances in the second half,” Curtin reflected. But it was far below the level the head coach expected at this stage of the preseason.
Integrating Monteiro alongside new signings Matej Oravec and Jakob Glesnes remains a priority, as does finding the best fits for Anthony Fontana and Matt Real. Both young players continue to search for a spot in the first eleven, and Kai Wagner’s injury has given Real a look in to the first team that he desperately hopes to grab.
Up front, Przybylko and Santos showed the physical sides to their game but failed to find the cohesion that will be necessary to control a match. Santos’ pressing continues to need work while Przybylko must learn how to work off of his energetic teammate.
The Union return to action on Saturday against Inter Miami at Al Lang Stadium.