“This year, it’s all about winning;” Doop by the River’s Conversation with Leon Flach – Philly Sports
Leon Flach has been a starter for the Philadelphia Union since signing last spring. Flach has played 46 games since the start of the 2021 season and started 43 of them. His willingness to run endlessly, his tenacity to put out fires while defending, and his effort to create transitional attacks make him a very valuable addition to this Union team. The Doop by the River podcast was able to sit down with him and have a chat about his time in Philadelphia so far.
Interview with Leon Flach
Sometimes it can be easy to overlook the players who do the dirty work on a team. It’s something that Leon Flach is definitely doing for the Union. Leon played as the left commuter in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation for Union.
This number eight on the left side of Union must be able to help in many facets on the pitch. He needs to cover the left-back if he comes upfield, help the lone number six if Philly is hit by an opposition counter-attack and carry the ball forward if the attack goes down the left flank .
Flach has helped the Union so much with his ability to do all of this, and in his chat with Doop by the River, he attributed it to being comfortable in Philadelphia on and off the court!
Cozy in Philadelphia
When you think of Leon Flach with Union, you think of his comfort on the pitch. He will run until he can’t run anymore, and with that determination comes a calm for himself and for the team! But what you might not know was his arrival in this city as a 20-year-old German-American. Leon was born in Texas but spent most of his life in Germany. When he had the opportunity to come to the United States to play football for Philadelphia, he took it and immediately acclimated to the city of Brotherly Love.
Leon mentioned he was interested in Philly during the 2020 season, as he watched what he called the ‘Covid Cup’ and saw players like Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie having opportunities to play and advance. their career in Philly. Fast forward to 2021 and Leon was in Philadelphia as a Union player. He quickly discovered the United States and Philadelphia by visiting tourist attractions.
Flach mentioned climbing the steps of the art museum, seeing the Rocky statue, going to other city museums and the zoo as ways to feel comfortable in the city. Add to that his impressive debut with the team and you can see why Leon Flach is a hugely important part of this Union side!
Union system matches Leon’s style of play
Leon Flach was able to join this team in 2021 and start his first game, and not just any game. Leon’s debut game was the club’s first-ever CCL game at Saprissa. He started the game and showed everything we see from him in every game. Flach attributed this to his mentality of not just thinking about playing!
His ability to jump right in and play straight rather than thinking about his role created the union we see today! It has to do with how Leon plays as a left eight in this Union’s system. Asked about his style of play and how Union’s midfield works, he summed up perfectly why Union were so successful last year and why they currently sit first in the East in 2022. .
Flach spoke about his ability to gel well with Kai Wagner on the left side. The fact that they both speak German makes for a great combination. They know who has to do what on the left side to help the attack or the defense of the Union. This combination has been at MLS best in Flach’s 46 games for Union, and now we’re seeing even more chemistry between Leon and the other midfielders.
Leon Flach, Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya and Daniel Gazdag create quite the midfield diamond. Flach spoke about the emotion of each player on the pitch and how they were all perfectly suited to execute the club’s desired style of play. It’s seen in the results the club achieves when these guys take to the pitch together. All four are starters, and it’s very difficult for them to be moved at the moment. Flach’s ability to help connect the midfielder for Union has a lot of eyes on him, some of the top brass in American football!
USMNT interest in Flach
Leon Flach has represented Germany and the United States at U20 level. Last season, he received an invitation to come to the USMNT Gold Cup camp but didn’t secure a roster spot for the tournament that saw the United States lift the Cup.
Fast forward to December and US Soccer was calling up players for a winter camp ahead of the World Cup qualifiers. Flach was on the guest list, but he couldn’t join that side as the Union were deep in the MLS Cup qualifiers.
Flach appears to be a player that Berhalter and the USMNT want to get on the United States Senior National Team. Could this be something we see on the way to the 2022 World Cup, or perhaps after, when the United States prepares for the 2023 Gold Cup? No matter what happens with Leon Flach at international level, he is ready to win now with Union!
The objective of this Union 2022 team
Leon spoke so well about the end of the 2021 season for the Union. He said they “lost a battle they couldn’t win.” I like this way of thinking about the Covid-ridden team that missed a game to make the MLS Cup. It shows the gravity of the world we live in and also the addiction of the team to compete and still do almost the unthinkable.
Now in 2022, the Union is ready to win! In Flach’s own words: “This year is all about winning!” Leon spoke about the consistency of the team at the start of the season, and how if they can keep it that way, they can achieve great things! He obviously brought up the MLS Cup, but also touched on the return of the US Open Cup. Flach and the Union also want to win this trophy! If they can keep playing like they did at the start of 2022, they might just win a double!
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union, Andrew Zwarych