Welcome back to the latest edition of Three Takeaways, a segment in which I analyze each of the Philadelphia Union’s matches throughout the season.
Philadelphia Union traveled to Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday to take on defending champions Atlanta United. After 90 minutes of hard-fought play, the game ended with a 1-1 draw as the Union wrapped up a two-game, away stretch.
Philadelphia was without No. 10 Marco Fabián, who was ejected the previous game against Sporting Kansas City. Fabián was replaced in the Starting XI by Homegrown Brenden Aaronson, who scored the lone goal for the Boys-in-Blue in his debut.
There is a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it.
Aaronson Shows Out in Debut
With Marco Fabián suspended for his ejection against Sporting, the Union called upon 18-year-old Homegrown midfielder, Brenden Aaronson to start in his absence at the Union’s No. 10 role.
Aaronson, like Fabián, scored in his debut and made a strong argument for seeing more time on the field. Now, before you say that an 18-year-old couldn’t possibly replace a traveled international player like Fabián, I will point out that 10-year-old Ronaldo was lightyears ahead of the present-day, 16-year-old me. Age isn’t a factor here.
However, I don’t believe that the Union will give Aaronson many more looks in the Starting XI at this time, so fans will have to wait to evaluate him beyond one standout performance.
In the meantime, let’s look at the intangibles.
Aaronson was able to move the ball around, and showed more at the No. 10 than Marco Fabián has through two games this season. He’s was able to move the ball around the field, and create space for himself.
Looking at the numbers, Aaronson had a better opening than Marco Fabian had against Sporting, though not as good as the Mexican’s opener against Toronto Football Club, according to the Audi Index.
I don’t think that Aaronson should be the hard start for the rest of the season, but I do believe the Homegrown should be given more time to prove himself off the bench, so that he might be able to become a consistent member of the Starting XI in the near future.
Controlling the Center of the Box
Two of the three, non-PK/own-goals scored against the Union so far this season have come, interestingly enough, from the exact same scenario. Be it a scrap inside the penalty area or a pass to a lone man standing on the penalty mark, both have resulted in goals conceded by the Union.
To me, this is negligence by the coaching staff. Despite an obvious problem rearing its ugly head, the staff hasn’t worked to correct it, and Atlanta was able to exploit it against Philadelphia. If it happens again, I’ll be even more disappointed. Jim Curtin and his staff are supposed to be working to make this team the best version of itself.
This seems oddly specific, however, it is focused on a broader subject. The Union’s coaching staff has to be held accountable for its actions, or it’s lack thereof.
This scenario happening once is bad enough, but consistently leaving a man open in the most vulnerable place on the field is unacceptable. Fans will surely hope that this is the last they see of this.
Woah, We’re Halfway There
Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve done it. We’ve officially reached the halfway point, before I call for Jim Curtin to be terminated.
The Union have had a poor showing in each of their opening three games. They fell 3-1 at home to Toronto, fell 2-0 on the road against Kansas City, and drew Atlanta 1-1 in a game where it seemed they would finally earn three points.
To be clear, I’m not calling for Curtin’s dismissal just yet, I won’t do that until around match five or six. However, Curtin has shown that he most likely isn’t the leader the team needs.
I’ve given him some leniency this season with the entry of Ernst Tanner as Sporting Director, in the event that Earnie Stewart was the puppet master, running things behind the scenes. However, Curtin has shown that he is still unable to get the best out of his team .
To be clear, it isn’t just Curtin who I’m disappointed with. Marco Fabián hasn’t exactly lived up to the hype. Midfielders Warren Creavalle and Haris Medunjanin have been poor. The players also deserve criticism when and where it’s due.
Make sure to check back in next week when Lister analyses the Union’s play against Columbus Crew SC at Talen Energy Stadium.