A productive front line, a group mastering this year’s new tactical approach and a two-game winning streak have made for sunny skies above the Philadelphia Union, pushing their winless start to the season into the background.
A rain-soaked 2-0 away win in Week 5 over FC Cincinnati had head coach Jim Curtin reminding everyone: "We have a very strong team, we’ve had good performances now in each of our games. I think our team has gotten better, adjusting to a new system and a new style. The players have really taken to it.”
While much of the preseason discussion around the team centered on their shift to a 4-4-2 formation with a diamond midfield and high press, the attacking trident that Marco Fabian and David Accam are crafting with Fafa Picault may be the Union’s most important shape at present. In Cincinnati, the Union enjoyed more of the ball and created more shots than their expansion adversaries
Curtin’s confidence in his backline – which has conceded just one goal during Philly’s current three-game unbeaten run – allowed him to feature both Fabian and Homegrown playmaker Brenden Aaronson in Saturday’s starting XI, a decision he said paid off.
“I thought they were both good on the night,” the coach said of Fabian and Aaronson. “I thought Brenden in particular, turning in tight spaces, guys are comfortable playing to him through the lines, and obviously Marco gives us the quality on the goal that you see, to have the composure to avoid a defender and make a play and score a goal for us. Happy with both of their performances. Two really good soccer players, and we wanted to put them on the field at the same time.”
Newly-acquired box-to-box midfielder Jamiro Monteiro also made his debut in Cincy, coming off the bench to help lock down the victory, giving Philadelphia another reason for optimism as they host another hot side, FC Dallas, on Saturday (7:30 pm ET | TV and streaming info).
“Incredible player, one that is going to really fit in well with this group, is going to be a guy that is a game-changing midfielder in this league,” said Curtin of the Cape Verde international. “You saw glimpses today of just how quickly he can close the ball down, win it, connect. [He] has good feet, good passing and knew exactly what he needed to do to close the game out and keep the clean sheet for us tonight.”