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Captain Morgan Countdown: Countless pieces add up for high-powered Union offense

When it came to finding the back of the net, Philadelphia Union consistently found a way to get the job done this season. The team notched 44 goals with 13 different players scoring along the way. Under normal circumstances the team was on pace for 65 goals which would have marked a franchise record, beating their record from 2019 of 58 goals. No group contributed to this tally as much as the forwards this season consisting of starters Sergio Santos, Kacper Przybylko plus second half pieces in the form of Andrew Wooten and Ilsinho. Add in the midseason re-introduction of Cory Burke too proved crucial down the stretch as well to combine for a whopping 27 goals with 14 assists to boot.

Sergio Santos has been the breakout star on the offensive end of the field this season pacing the team with eight goals and adding an additional three in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout rounds. After battling an injury plagued 2019 season where notching four goals in 17 matches last season, Santos showcased his promise in 2020. His most productive night of the year came in a pivotal game against Toronto in which he netted a hat trick to push the Union into first place in the East. Santos was able to convert regardless of if he was inside or outside of the box, on the left or right side of the field, in transition or not, he consistently found the back of the net this season.

After leading the Union in scoring last season with 15 goals, Kacper Przybylko adapted his role to help lift the team to new heights. Though he still managed to tie Santos in scoring during the MLS regular season with eight of his own, he became more of a distributor than he was last season. Kacper dished out five assists this season, more than he did last season and in fewer games, including some timely passes late in the season when the Union were pushing for the Supporters’ Shield. Przybylko seemed to fill whatever role the team needed him to this season, creating chances or converting on his own, but most importantly as a leader both on and off the field this year.

‘Super sub’ is a term that gets thrown around a lot in soccer, but is an absolute necessity for any team with championship aspirations. The Union had three such players in Ilsinho, Anthony Fontana, and Andrew Wooten that provided a spark to the lineup whenever Curtin called their number this season. Perhaps no one embodied this more than Anthony Fontana who posed problems for opposing defenses all season. Fontana scored six goals for the Union, all of which coming in the final 13 games of the season, in a variety of ways. He always kept opposing keepers guessing, converting from outside the box, chip shots, and even going opposite corner across his body once. Ilsinho on the other hand provided a steadying presence every time he came on the field. The savvy vet has filled the ‘super sub’ role for the team over the last few seasons and continued to work his magic this year. Ilsinho contributed three goals and three assists this season, but his true value has been his professionalism and leadership during this unique season. Lastly, Andrew Wooten though limited to only 16 games made his teammates lives easier every time he stepped on the field. Providing four assists for the team this year Wooten is a prime example of what Curtin is referring to when he says that he will take his cohesive 11 on the field over other teams superstars any day of the week.

Cory Burke, or more colloquially known as “Scory Burke” certainly lived up to his nickname this season. Though a late season addition to the team after dealing with travel issues due to the pandemic, Burke made his presence known across the team’s final five games. In the final three games of the season Burke scored twice including the game winner against Chicago, and the insurance goal against the Revolution to secure the Shield. Burke finished the season looking just like the player he was when he led the Union in scoring in 2018 when he netted 10 goals in 29 matches.

With such an arsenal at the helm of the Union’s attack, opposing back lines have a lot to be worried about coming up against this group. In a year that the Union scored a record number of goals from outside the box, there is nowhere in the attacking third that opponents can breathe easy. Having as many weapons as they do, it is hard to know who will be the one to open up scoring on Tuesday, but we know they are all hungry for it. One thing is for sure, this group will be relentless in attacking the opponent’s goalkeeper in their hunt for the club’s first ever MLS Cup.


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