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Things we learned from the Union’s draw against LAFC

Our three takeaways from a valuable point in LA.



Where are the subs?

Jim Curtin has always made questionable decisions regarding his substitutions. Even when MLS introduced the opportunity to use five subs, Curtin rarely even uses three substitutions. On a sweaty night in Los Angeles, Curtin used just two. 

The lack of subs against LAFC is bad enough on its own. The team was clearly tired, and there were some players on the defensive line who could have used a break. At worst, Curtin could’ve used some substitutions to slow down the game as the black and gold made their late-game push.

It’s especially important to use substitutions this week for Curtin in what will be one of the Union’s toughest weeks of the season. Not only does it have a three-game week, it travels from Los Angeles to Orlando in a span of just three days, both locations with less-than-comfortable weather. The finisher against the New York Red Bulls is no point guarantee either. 

The starting XI is strong, but they aren’t immortal. Eventually, Alejandro Bedoya needs to come off the field, it’s time for Curtin to recognize it. 

All praise to the backline

When part of a team is just so good, it’s hard not to keep talking about it. After its performance on Saturday, the backline deserves more props. 

Sure, they allowed an above-average number of goals by their standards. But holding the current Supporters’ Shield leaders to two goals in their home is no small feat. It’s also worth noting that the second goal can’t be put on their failures, Carranza was marking Escobar and just fell asleep after Andre Blake’s parry. 

Additionally, Jakob Glesnes and Nathan Harriel made two stops on or near the goal line which Blake would not have stopped. As with most games, it’s hard to say that the Union win the same points that they do without their back four, and the match against LAFC is a strong highlight reel of their prowess. 

Two of the best points to earn

The Union may be accustomed to winning this season, but sometimes they’ll have to tie. Admittedly, Philadelphia should have beaten Montreal, but that is what it is. Sometimes the score just doesn’t go your way.

Against Nashville and LAFC, the Union earned their best two points thus far, and possibly through the whole season. As was mentioned repeatedly last week, a draw in a rocking Geodis Park was a great steal. Another tie across the country against the league’s top team is fantastic. 

You can make the argument that the Union didn’t deserve its victory and that LAFC was the better team, but that doesn’t matter. A draw is a draw. The Union can do it against the best at their best. They don’t have a marquee win just yet, but their draws speak just as loudly. 

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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