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RSL vs. Philadelphia Union scouting report: Philly in form

Philadelphia’s on a hot streak right now thanks to some key cogs in the Union machine.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Philadelphia Union Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Union, after an abysmal start to the season (sound familiar?) that saw them go winless in their first six matches while only scoring five goals, have found themselves on the flip side of the equation as they’re now unbeaten in their last six since then, with four straight wins in a row.

While it’s clear from their record of 4-4-4 that they’re the epitome of a well-balanced team this season, it’s a little unclear which way the club will lean next. Sure, they’ve brought in some reinforcements like Jay Simpson, Haris Medunjanin, and the infamous Oguchi Onyewu, but these are all players who are difference makers, yet still trying to adjust and adapt to their new team. Philly has shown that they’ve got streaky tendencies, and we’re all waiting with bated breath to see if this four-game winning streak will hold up as they visit Salt Lake City this weekend.

Last year, the Union squeaked their way into the playoffs by finishing sixth in the East, only to be immediately knocked out in the first round (sound familiar again?) by a much better Toronto FC team.

So, how did they go from beast to beauty within a few short weeks? Let’s look at a few of the players that helped turned this team around in recent games.

New England Revolution v Philadelphia Union Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

CJ Sapong - Forward

The team’s leading scorer with eight goals — and the man at the forefront of the attack — has been absolutely key in revitalizing this team. Not only does he have eight goals, but two assists on top of that as well. Just three weeks ago he recorded his first-ever career hat trick when the Union dominated the New York Red Bulls with a 3-0 win. He’s notched either a goal or an assist in three of his last five games and has shown no signs of slowing down.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Philadelphia Union Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Haris Medunjanin - Midfielder

A newcomer to MLS, Philadelphia signed him in January to a two-year deal from Maccabi Tel Aviv, and the 32-year-old has been fantastic in the midfield since he arrived. Sharing the honors for the team’s second-highest leading scorer with two goals, he also has five assists on the season and has shown that he’s an attacking force to be reckoned with. Medunjanin has also earned himself 55 caps with the Bosnian Mens National Team and tallied eight goals for his country. Playing alongside the likes of Roland Alberg, Ilsinho, and Alejandro Bedoya throughout the season, he brings a little extra firepower to an already stacked Philly midfield.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at D.C. United Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Blake - Goalkeeper

Philly’s stalwart man between the pipes has found himself in a very good spot this season, already recording five shutouts and 28 saves on the season, while allowing only 15 goals past him through 12 games so far. He’s worked his way up from the bottom since he was drafted in 2014, earning the starting spot for the Union near the end of 2015 and hasn’t looked back since, while also making an appearance on the MLS All-Star Team last season. He’s also one of the lucky ‘keepers who hasn’t been snubbed come award season, as he won the Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2016.

Stats overview

Record: 4-4-4
Standings: 7th place in east, 16 points
Form: W - W - W - W - D
Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1
Goals scored: 19
Goals allowed: 15

Leading goal scorers

CJ Sapong: 8
Haris Medunjanin: 2
Fabrice-Jean Picault: 2
Roland Alberg: 2
Fabian Herbers: 1
Jay Simpson: 1
Richie Marquez: 1
Ilsinho: 1
Oguchi Onyewu: 1