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Three Takeaways — Dallas vs. Philadelphia

Welcome back to another edition of Three Takeaways, a segment in which I dive in after each Philadelphia Union match, revisit and take a closer look at what went well and what ultimately did not.

On Saturday, April 21, the Philadelphia Union squared off with the only unbeaten team in the Western Conference, FC Dallas. Again the Union dropped three of three possible points, falling 2-0 on the night and to 1-3-2 on the season.

Lister’s Stat of the Match: Saturday’s loss to FC Dallas marks the Philadelphia Union’s 14th consecutive away loss in Major League Soccer.

Here are my Three Takeaways from the Union’s loss.

Low Expectations

In all honesty, I expected this loss. Even before the first whistle was blown, I had anticipated the Union to drop points in Dallas.

So far, this season, the Union have yet to win a game against an even-sided team, and last Saturday’s scoreless loss only propels them further into that abyss.

Curtin’s side currently sits tenth in the Eastern Conference, and in Major League Soccer’s Supporters’ Shield table, they rank 21 out of 23 clubs.

Philadelphia has shown little to no vital signs from its attack, which has looked lifeless, and competency from a backline that breaks more than it bends. 

CJ Sapong’s production is back to Earth, and the Union’s forward is getting little to no service from his attacking partners David Accam, Fafa Picault, and Fabian Herbers.

Holding the Union’s defense together is goalkeeper Andre Blake, who continues to show off his reliance and ability between the sticks. Blake has been getting little to no help from his backline, which collapses too often, forcing the Jamaican to fend for himself and make too many big saves.

But more on that in my next Takeaway.

Andre Blake Deserves a Raise

Against Dallas, and during most of the other games played this season, the Union backline has allowed attackers to slip by them, time after time.

Perhaps the best, but worst, example of this was when Dominique Badji did so three times, in the Union’s 3-0 drudging in Colorado, against the Colorado Rapids. Opposing attackers have quickly figured out this young, inexperienced backline. 

Despite this, Andre Blake still deserves credit for keeping the scoreline below seven by the end of each game. Time and time again, Blake has saved the day for the Philadelphia Union.

Blake deserves to go to Europe, however, the Union would suffer without him.

I believe that John McCarthy can be a capable goalkeeper in MLS, but, right now, Philadelphia would drop each game down by four goals instead of two with the way the defense is playing.

So here’s to Andre Blake, the man who continues to save Union fans from complete and utter embarrassment.

Soccer Lasts 90 Minutes, Not 10

Every game, the Union start off strong and dominant, and Curtin’s team looks to be playing at their very best. However, by around the fifteen minute mark, they are a completely different team. They become submissive and even look afraid.

Perhaps the only game which this did not occur was against Orlando City SC, where the Union were blanked 2-0. Philadelphia was consistently outplayed by visiting Orlando from the first whistle to the last.

However, even then, the Union’s best moments came at the beginning of the game, when they appeared to put Orlando under a bit of pressure. 

I think it’s fantastic to come out with confidence, but the Union need to capitalize or even build off that. In life, it takes consistency to be successful in anything, and for the Union to improve, they need to take advantage of their early momentum in games. 

Curtin needs to work his team to be prepared for the full run, otherwise, Union fans can expect another aimless and lost season.

I didn’t want to repeat myself, for the second week in a row, but Jim Curtin needs to fix the dire situation in Chester, or else Earnie Stewart should. I know many Union fans are desperate for a win, and one doesn’t look to be coming anytime soon.

Make sure to check back next week, when Lister analyzes the Philadelphia Union’s performance against D.C. United, a team that, according to Lister, “won’t be worse than the Union in a week.” Cheers.