clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Three things to watch for against Philadelphia Union: The midfield, Edu, and forwards

I know it seems a bit like homework — and I promise, it's not entirely that — but let's ask some questions before today's match against Philadelphia Union, and let's circle back on them afterward.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

How does the midfield look?

With a midfield change imminent, pay attention to how the midfield builds play. Luis Gil might be in less than perfect form, but he has been as important as anybody when we're doing well. Without him, what approach does our midfield take? Who takes up attacking positions more regularly of the two-most central players? Does Ned Grabavoy retain a more connective position, or does he push up further forward to assist Javier Morales in creative play?

With Sebastian Velasquez back in the side, do we see him start, or does Luke Mulholland earn another given his positive impact in the early season?

How do we handle Maurice Edu?

Of those players who will be hoping to somehow, someway take Kyle Beckerman's World Cup spot from him, Maurice Edu has to be near the top of the list. What better way to force himself into Klinsmann's thinking than over performing against Beckerman's club side? An extra-motivated Edu may well be on display, but what does that mean for us? It is worth remembering to just two weeks ago, when we bypassed Michael Bradley with two primary types of actions.

The first: Push the wider midfielders further forward and slightly wider, forcing more central midfielders to move horizontally rather vertically. Ned Grabavoy and Luis Gil were phenomenal that day.

The second: Allow Javier Morales to float into deeper positions. Historically, some of Morales's greatest impacts have come from wide positions, but these deeper positions he's moved into are indicative of a more substantive influence. With age comes less of an ability to burst past players, to move between full backs and central defenders - but it also forces central players to re-evaluate their marking. When Morales drops but Grabavoy and Gil stay forward, who moves to cover? Switching two players for one - not three for one, as would be the case if Morales simply stayed forward - disrupts and confuses marking.

In short, it's all about movement.

Where does our firepower come from?

Our expected forward pairing of Alvaro Saborio and Olmes Garcia can be lethal, but it can likewise be one that doesn't excel away from home. This is a difficult problem to solve on a single day, but the impetus will largely be on those two to get involved in play. But we also shouldn't ignore the difference it makes having your midfielders pushed further up the pitch.

But it might be incumbent on us to make a change for this one that better suits a match where we might not hold play in such a manner. Does this open a space for Devon Sandoval, whose hassling and harrying might be a better fit? Or do we retain Olmes Garcia, who can play wider and cut inside?