Philadelphia Union boss Jim Curtin is looking for a series of the club’s promising youngsters to step up as the team bids to end a series of frustrating Major League Soccer results.
Philadelphia have won just one of their last five games after falling to defeat against Columbus Crew last time out, slipping below New York Red Bulls at the top of the Eastern Conference.
But Curtin hopes a quartet of youngsters in Paxten Aaronson, Brandan Craig, Jack McGlynn and Quinn Sullivan can step up after helping the U.S. to win the under-20 CONCACAF championship.
“The challenge now is to go from that competition against kids your own age to doing it against the professionals, which I think they are more than capable of doing,” Curtin said.
“Obviously, with the busy schedule, they’re going to get minutes. Sometimes it’ll be off the bench. Sometimes it will be as starters as we move forward.
“But certainly we’ll rely more and more on them in the second half of the season.”
Philadelphia’s next opponents D.C. are 13th of 14 teams in the Eastern standings, but ended a six-game winless run with a thrilling 5-3 triumph over Orlando last time out.
And interim head coach Chad Ashton believes the nature of that rollercoaster win could provide the visitors with a newfound belief going forward.
“I think essentially, you’re looking to get a result and you don’t really care what that result looks like, you want to build confidence, to know the things we’re working on are showing up on the field,” he said.
“But I like the result in terms of [the fact] that we had to deal with some adversity, you go up, you give up some goals, having to deal with them coming back, I think builds character.
“You saw our guys reach down deep, fight harder, and over the long haul that pays dividends.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Philadelphia Union – Julian Carranza
The Argentine’s four goals for Philadelphia this term have only been bettered by Daniel Gazdag (seven), while no Union player has recorded more than his three assists. The Inter Miami loanee could provide a threat when the hosts go in search of a first win in three games.
D.C. United – Taxi Fountas
Having netted nine goals in his first 10 games in the MLS for D.C., Fountas is the obvious dangerman for a side which scored five goals in their exhilarating win last time out.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Union have 11 wins in 15 MLS meetings with D.C. United since the start of the 2016 season (D2 L2).Only Real Salt Lake (12 vs. Colorado) has more wins against one opponent in that time.
– The Union’s 0-0 draw at Columbus on Sunday was the eighth draw in their last 11 games (W2 L1) and the second straight match in which the Union failed to find the net. Philadelphia last went three straight MLS games without scoring in August-September 2013.
– D.C. United snapped a six-match winless run (D2 L4) in spectacular fashion on Monday, scoring five times in a wild 5-3 victory on the road against Orlando City. It was D.C.’s first five-goal performance on the road since a 5-2 win at Colorado in May 2000.
– Andre Blake has played all 1620 available MLS minutes for the Union this year, saving 81.4 percent of the shots he’s faced, nearly four percent higher than any other MLS goalkeeper (min. 750 minutes).
– Taxi Fountas’ hat-trick on Monday took him to nine goals in his first 10 MLS games. All nine goals have come in Fountas’ eight league starts, equaling the record for any player in their first eight MLS starts in league history.