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 June 30, the Philadelphia Union flew out to California and the City of Angels, to face Major League Soccer’s new boys, Los Angeles Football Club, in what was the first-ever meeting between the two clubs.
Recent LAFC signing and former Hull City forward Adama Diomandé notched a hat trick against the Boys-in-Blue as Los Angeles handily defeated Philadelphia, 4-1, with the Union’s only goal coming from Fafa Picault in the 45th minute.
There’s quite a bit to break down from this game, so I’ll get right to it.
Throughout the match, the Union were called offsides, leading to multiple wasted opportunities.
One such opportunity came at the brink of half time, in the 45th + 2’, when Ilsinho stood nearly a yard offsides, alone in the box, waiting to receive a pass. He received the ball, took a shot, and was quickly called for the offsides, possibly costing the Union a goal, which would have pulled them level going into the second half.
Later in the game, captain Alejandro Bedoya sent a ball to David Accam in LAFC’s half of the field. But Accam was clearly a few yards offsides for what would have been an otherwise successful run. Again those few yards may have cost the Union a goal.
It should be said that I’m only pointing to two scenarios. Neverthless, Philadelphia was consistently, and rightly, ruled offsides in Southern California, showing a part of their game that they certainly need to work on.
What also hurt the Union on Saturday was their ability, or lack thereof rather, to pass the ball. Nearly every opportunity created by the Union was wasted by a mistimed pass that would stop that run and create a dangerous counter attack for LAFC.
Passing is an underrated part of the game and such a big part of any football team’s success. Watching the World Cup this summer, one might notice that, with rare exceptions (ahem, Spain), the team with more completed passes will usually win the game and advance.
Goals. In order to score them, every team must first work the ball around, something that Jim Curtin’s team has consistently shown they are incapable of doing against a good MLS team.
Where’s the Depth?
Philadelphia was missing two important players in LA. Borek Dockal, who was away due to “personal reasons,” and Haris Medunjanin, who was serving the remainder of his three-game suspension for his behavior in Atlanta.
Without Dockal and Medunjanin, the Union struggled both offensively and defensively in the back. Philly’s offense was unable to mount any semblance of a solid attack, and the defense had issues holding their ground against Los Angeles’ star-studded attack.
Ilsinho was left in charge of playing the No. 10 role, which Dockal, the Union’s leading goal scorer and assist man, has been so influential in in recent weeks. And while the Brazilian has played the position in the past, he did not perform up to the new par for Philadelphia.
Warren Creavalle assumed Medunjanin’s position in the center of the park, with Creavalle forced to anchor and link the midfield with the backline. Creavalle’s performance wasn’t a failure in any sense, but he doesn’t man the position in the same defensive manner that Medunjanin does.
Thankfully, both the Czech and Bosnian are expected to return to Curtin’s XI against Atlanta per the club, which gives Union fans something to look forward to.
Make sure to check back next week, when Lister breaks down the Union’s performance against the MLS leaders, Atlanta United, at Talen Energy Stadium on Saturday.