While the Philadelphia Union brought home three points on Saturday night against Chicago Fire FC, those points were not the prettiest. Still, despite the struggles that were displayed throughout the match, the Union picked up the win all the same.
With four matches recorded in all competitions, we’re still learning about this year’s roster. Let’s take a dive into what we picked up from the Union’s win over Chicago.
The front three need more chemistry
In the 2022 season, the Union boasted Major League Soccer’s best-attacking trio, as Mikael Uhre, Julian Carranza, and Daniel Gazdag combined for the best goals + assists total across the league. While they have combined for four goals in three MLS matches thus far, the reality is different than numbers show.
Of course, all four of those goals came against Columbus Crew SC. Additionally, two of those goals were penalty kicks from Gazdag. Carranza’s goals were nice, but the eye test shows that while Gazdag earned secondary assists on both goals, he only had a significant role in one.
Obviously, the 2023 season is young, and the Union’s attack may be getting re-acclimated to each other. All the same, a group that lit MLS on fire last season should be demonstrating some higher level of chemistry.
The back line has its issues
Credit goes to Jakob Glesnes and Jack Elliott, they held a shutout despite having Joe Bendik behind them in goal. No disrespect to Bendik, but he is not one of the best goalkeepers that MLS has ever seen.
That being said, when Andre Blake was in goal, the back line looked a little shaky. Crosses and passes entered dangerous spaces, eventually leading to Blake’s injury. Each member of the Union’s back four looked uncomfortable at times, and opened the game up to the Fire when Chicago most needed.
Grinding out wins
Yes, the Union did not look great on Saturday night. But as Penn State men’s basketball says, sometimes wins are ‘Gritty, Not Pretty.’ While the Union tries to get adjusted to MLS and Concacaf Champions League action, they likely won’t score touchdowns on teams. Any points will be tough to come by, and fans will just have to trust that the group will grind out results.
Some days the hero may be Joaquin Torres, and some days it will be Alejandro Bedoya. That’s going to be the nature of the season, so fans will have to take points as they come.