The Philadelphia Union has had a rough start to their 2018 campaign. Despite beating the New England Revolution in the home opener on March 3, The Union is winless in their last four games. With two draws and two losses, the Union currently holds the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with five points.
As usual, the dismal start to the season was not expected; however, the Union rarely impresses in the early months of the season. Despite the additions of speedy winger David Accam and midfield tactician Boreck Dockal, the Union has not been able to find their stride on offense and it’s been costing them big time. So far, the Union has only scored three goals in five games this season; however, the opportunities have been there for the Union.
In their most recent outing against Orlando City F.C., the Union lost by a score of 2-0 and the goals for Orlando came at the feet of Dom Dwyer and Christopher Mueller. Even though Philadelphia put up a total of 19 shots, only five of them were on target. The Union also failed to convert on 14 different corner kick opportunities in the contest.
Many expected the signing of Accam to be a breakthrough for the Union’s offense as he could be deadly on the counter, but we have seen few moments this year when the front three have had a good jump on the ball. Accam will need to cover more ground and work on winning possession in one-on-one situations.
During their 1-1 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes back on April 7, the Union had an abundance of shots with 22, but only put eight of them on target. Dockal has improved the team’s ability to pass and create space and win possession battles, but he and fellow scorer C.J. Sapong will need to improve their finishing ability if the team is to start scoring goals and winning games.
Perhaps it’s time for manager Jim Curtin to experiment with the offense and move away from the 4-2-3-1 that he has become so accustomed too. With Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin essentially playing the same brand of defensive football, one of those midfielders could be swapped in favor of another striker. Shifting the Union to a 4-1-2-1-2 could give the Union the extra firepower they need to finish chances inside the box, taking some of the pressure off of Accam and right midfielder Fafa Picault along the wing.
With the Union in desperate need of someone who can finish inside the box, it’s not out of the question that the Union could sign another big name during the summer transfer window. The team has one more designated player spot available, so there is room for a possible European signing. Certain rumor mills have reported that former Chelsea striker Fernando Torres is looking to make a move to Major League Soccer. The 34-year-old was one of the most deadly poachers inside the box during the prime of his career; his deceptive footwork coupled with Sapong’s physicality would be a lethal combo in front of goal.
Signing a somewhat washed-up European striker may be a long shot unless the Union suddenly decide to take a page out of the LA Galaxy’s playbook, but nevertheless, the Union needs to find a solution to their goal scoring struggles.
Andrew Heller is a first-year graduate student majoring in English. ✉ AH804286@wcupa.edu.