If you had asked any Philadelphia Union supporters whether they would have taken a 1-1 draw before the match they likely would have told you yes. But after the match, it definitely felt like the Union had dropped two points, not picked up one. This was soured even more by the fact that New York City FC had beaten the San Jose Earthquakes – taking NYCFC to 57 points on the season, which is five points clear of the Union in the Eastern Conference standings.
WHAT WE LEARNED
When you take all of that into account a point against LAFC is still a great result, and in getting that result we were able to learn a lot more about this Union side.
- The youngsters, Mark McKenzie and Brenden Aaronson, are the real deal – both had outstanding games. McKenzie had a dominant performance in the back-line, while Aaronson had almost scored on a fine run in the first half (both were coming off a camp where they started with the U.S. U-23s).
- The Union are one of the most balanced sides in Major League Soccer. Getting consecutive results off of the reigning MLS Champions Atlanta United FC, and the League leaders, LAFC, is no measly task.
- Jim Curtin is a fantastic man manager.
- He had not been starting Fafa Picault as of late, but did for this match. Fafa rewarded this confidence with solid crossing in the match, which led to the Union’s lone goal.
- He also held DP Player Marco Fabian accountable. Curtain left Fabian out of the lineup after he had missed a team meeting on Friday.
- The Union have found their striker. There have been doubts about Kacper Przybyłko’s mobility in the past, but the striker continues to impress in everything he does (he now has 14 goals in 23 games). He even does well when dropping into the midfield to help defend – something there was also concern about.
- The Union Faithful brought it! Sons of Ben were rocking with solid chants throughout the entire match. The fans held both LAFC and the Referees accountable for each action they made, including:
- Diego Rossi carrying the ball through the end-line for the third time, while being shepherded by either McKenzie or Jack Elliot.
- Or, a questionable handball late after a Sergio Santos shot.
Again, while the draw was certainly disappointing after the early goal, the positive fact is that these things can only lead to the Union improving their form going into the playoffs.
Be on the lookout for a piece about the U-23 Camp where McKenzie, Aaronson, and Matt Freese took part.