10 things on Philadelphia Union


For the first time this season, the Impact takes on the Philadelphia Union, this Saturday at 5pm at Stade Saputo (RDS, TSN, 98,5fm & TSN Radio 690). Here are 10 things to know before this can’t miss, top-of-the-table clash.


The Union (4-3-2, 14 pts) is enjoying its best start to a season since 2011 and has only lost once in five games. In their most recent outing, on Wednesday, May 11, Jim Curtin’s men and the LA Galaxy both took leads before Keegan Rosenberry scored the last goal in a 2-2 draw. Vincent Nogueira had scored the Union’s first goal before tallies by Robbie Rogers and Mike Magee.

Current form


Head coach

Jim Curtin (21-25-15 all-time as Philadelphia Union head coach) has been head coach of the Union since June 10, 2014. Curtin first took the job on an interim basis until November 7, 2014, when he was confirmed as first team head coach. A player with Chicago Fire and Chivas USA from 2001 to 2009, Curtin joined the Union Academy in 2010 before moving on to the first team technical staff on November 29, 2012. An assistant coach for almost two years, Curtin replaced John Hackworth, whose bad start to the 2014 season cost him his job, at the helm.

Current top scorer

Chris Pontius and C.J. Sapong (4)

Players to watch

1. Tranquillo Barnetta (#10) – A Switzerland international for some 10 years, the former Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04 man is at his best behind the forward, where he can make the difference.

2. Keegan Rosenberry (#12) – If he carries on like this, he’ll be a candidate for MLS Rookie of the Year. Getting past him on the Union’s right side hasn’t been easy.

3. Vincent Nogueira (#5) – Is he one of the most underrated players in MLS? Give him just a bit of space, and this playmaker will show you why you have to stick to him closely.

Team profile

Philadelphia’s defence has been a highlight early this season. With an average of one goal conceded per game, this defence is the third-best in MLS. Led by an ever-improving Richie Marquez at centre back, this backline anticipates plays well, recovers its fair share of balls and dominates in the air. They don’t stick to the edge of their penalty area no matter what, but the Union defenders are relatively cautious – Rosenberry takes a tad more risks than Fabinho, but looks more efficient tracking back. In front of the defence, Nogueira touches the ball as much as possible and acts as the first outlet to start plays, while the likes of Brian Carroll and Warren Creavalle place more emphasis on recovering balls. In the offensive phase, Nogueira can either offer a fine option in a deep-lying position with his range of passing or exploit space in front of him when he can make it count. On the flanks, Sébastien Le Toux has been doing well recently on the right; he can provide width, but he’s efficient cutting inside, as is his colleague on the left side, Chris Pontius. In between them, a Barnetta, an Ilsinho or an Alberg is expected to work hard and to play a couple of measured through balls, as well as provide a few bursts forward in the space created by Sapong, who can drop deep and hold the ball up well.

Tactical formation

4-2-3-1 has been Jim Curtin’s go-to formation. Lineup v. Los Angeles (May 11): Blake; Rosenberry, Yaro, Marquez, Fabinho; Carroll, Nogueira; Le Toux, Barnetta, Pontius; Sapong.

Against the Impact last season

On June 27, 2015, the Impact left Philadelphia with a 2-2 tie in a crazy game that saw both teams get a player sent off. The Impact played the Union again on August 22, for Didier Drogba’s debut, but Sébastien Le Toux scored 12 minutes from full time to clinch a 1-0 win.

Injuries (as of May 12)

M Maurice Edu (left tibia stress reaction)

Next games

Philadelphia Union v. D.C. United (MLS, May 20)
Orlando City SC v Philadelphia Union (MLS, May 25)
Colorado Rapids v. Philadelphia Union (MLS, May 28)