As the weekend approaches, we are welcoming in fellow SBN Blog The Brotherly Game to help preview Saturday’s match between FC Dallas and the Philadelphia Union. Matt Ralph helps break down who the Union are up to this point in the season and what we might expect out of them.
BDS: The Union are off to a solid start this season, going unbeaten in their last three games. What has sparked the current unbeaten run? How has the defense put up two straight shutouts?
BG: David Accam’s return to form has been key but so has the two-way play of homegrown midfielder Brenden Aaronson. Defensively, Jack Elliott and Austin Trusty have played error free in the middle, left back Kai Wagner has been strong on both sides of the field and Ray Gaddis has been his usual reliable self. Andre Blake is doing what he does best, keeping the team in it when called upon but the way they’ve limited opponent’s shots the past couple games it hasn’t been often.
BDS: Marco Fabian was the big signing this offseason for the Union. How has he been brought into the team so far? And who else has been brought in that FC Dallas fans need to know about?
BG: Fabian has had an odd start to his Union career. He converted a PK in the first game and played well, but missed a PK and was sent off in the second game against Sporting Kansas City and then served a two-game suspension before having a solid outing in Cincinnati. Right now it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of his potential on the squad. Left back Kai Wagner, who the Union acquired from a third tier club in Germany, has been arguably the team’s best and most consistent player this season. Jamiro Monteiro was finally cleared to play after being loaned in from FC Metz but it appears at present he’s the odd man out of the midfield with 18-year-old Brenden Aaronson playing as well as he has over the three-game unbeaten streak. The other big offseason addition was the Brazilian striker Sergio Santos, but he’s missed the last three games with an injury and if he plays this weekend at all it will likely be on a rehab stint with Bethlehem Steel.
BDS: Have there been any surprises for you so far this season with this bunch?
BG: Aaronson has been a bit of surprise more for how much he’s been able to play than how well he’s shown. Wagner has exceeded expectations for sure, but mainly because so little was known about him -- and let’s face it the third division in Germany -- coming in. Mark McKenzie not playing has also been a surprise, but it’s also how things started last season with Jack Elliott playing well enough to keep the 20-year-old on the bench. McKenzie had an injury in preseason that limited his time and suffered a concussion shortly after the season started so he’s also been a bit down on his luck so far this year as well.
Are there any injuries to discuss? Also, what is your projected lineup?
Like I said earlier, Santos will likely be on a rehab assignment but the whole group has been in training this week and appear to be good to go.
Projected lineup (4-4-2)
Ray Gaddis, Jack Elliott, Auston Trusty, Kai Wagner
Alejandro Bedoya, Brenden Aaronson
Fafa Picault, David Accam