Can Union attackers end a cold streak in the conference final?
The main problem facing the Philadelphia Union is obvious to everyone. Their attackers do not score goals. This has been the case for most of the 2021 season, and it continued into the first two games of the MLS Cup playoffs. This problem is mainly due to the fact that the Union does not have a full-fledged goalscorer. They have attackers who go through significant hot and cold streaks. Could the Union forwards end their cold streak in the Eastern Conference Finals and head to the MLS Cup?
The end of the cold sequence at the ECF?
The Union could be a bit light on players playing the attacker if one of their attackers ends up on the health and safety protocol list later today. However, if the Union forwards are going to end a cold steak that has plagued them for what seems like an eternity, then whoever runs the Philly line will have to do three things right. These things are:
- Get more involved in the building game
- In fact put an effort on the goal
- Take the right positions and be instinctive
If a Union forward can perform all three of these things against an NYCFC team, that will allow that to happen at certain points in the game; so maybe just maybe we’ll see this crisis end at the best possible time for Philly.
Get more involved in the building game
Whether it’s Kacper on top of the Christmas tree or Sergio and Cory coming off the bench, forwards need to get more involved with the midfielder in the Philly building game. Since the switch to 4-3-2-1, whoever was at the top has been limited in preparation and it is frustrating to say the least. In this formation, the duels 10 hold the top of the pavement. If they were able to combine with the attacker and create easy concessions and stretch the defense, the attack could be much more lethal.
Much of it goes to Kacper Przybylko. He’s been the constant starter of the Union and hasn’t looked good when isolated. It took a while to get into the game to combine with Monteiro and Gazdag and seems to be bullied when it comes to holding the ball or going for the lead. In a game that could be missing a few starters due to health and safety protocols, if Kacper is the forward he will need to get more involved. combine with 10s, make a crucial pass, then move to a dangerous spot to score. Once that happens, it’s all about the end.
Actully makes an effort on the net
The Union forward’s cold streak was personified by the number of failures they had in these playoffs. Union’s style of play and crowd atmosphere helped them gain the upper hand over the New York Red Bulls and Nashville SC. There were many moments in both matches where a ball was played to a Kacper or Sergio, and the effort on the net was poor or nonexistent. This must change and quickly if the cold sequence is to end.
Union tactics allow them to be the best team for the whole game, whether it is 90 minutes or 120 minutes. Starting in the 4-3-2-1 is a good combination to create an attack. Switching to a more direct 4-4-2 diamond allows fresh legs to run over a tired back line. Add 19,000 screaming fans pushing you and the result should be better from the guys whose job it is to score goals. It seems like attackers think way too much when they just have to be instinctive.
Take the right positions and be instinctive
Union attackers can be good finishers. We have seen it from all of them to spurts in their MLS careers. Whenever Union strikers catch fire, they end up in the right place at the right time and don’t think too hard about the situation. That’s what Union forwards need to do in the conference final if they are to play the hero to send the Union to their very first MLS Cup.
Przybylko, Santos or Burke will have to enter a mental zone to break this streak of cold. The Union is training to get into some really good places, Jim Curtin calls it the green zone. This is the area inside the 18-year-old’s penalty area and the penalty spot. The attackers seem to get to these places, then think about what they are doing too much and regroup their chances. If I’m Jim Curtin, I tell those at the top to stop overthinking when the ball hits them; tell them to do what they do best. Turn off that brain and do what instinctively feels right to you. Whether it’s a placed shot or a smashed shot. If one enters, be careful, this cold sequence could well be broken.
If we just wanted to enter …
All the Union needs from its attackers is one shot to cross an attacker’s finish line. Once that happens, confidence will flow. When that confidence comes, forwards will stop overthinking and they will feel a lot more free to influence the game by combining with the midfielder, putting shots on goal and getting into the right places and not overthinking the game. what they should do.
It all depends on who plays for Philly. But it would be another “It’s so Union” moment for there to be only one healthy forward and for that forward to score a brace that brings the Union to their very first MLS Cup final. Let’s see what happens, and keep this Posidelphia in place!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union via Twitter