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What can Philadelphia Union take from Orlando draw into US Open Cup Tie with Fire?

Union is five points behind final playoff spot.

PPL Park, home of the Union  From: Visitphilly.com

PPL Park, home of the Union
From: Visitphilly.com

Philadelphia Union played perhaps its most complete game in a draw with Orlando City at the weekend.

Playing without Maurice Edu who suffered a groin injury, the Union backline figured to be a question mark but it held high-scoring Orlando to a clean sheet, but the Union could not find the breakthrough goal it needed.

Sebastien LeToux, who appears to be in form at the best possible time, came closest when his sharp angle shot beat Orlando’s keeper Tally Hall, but it hit the right post in the 21st minute.

The Union elected to go with a backline of Richie Marques, Raymond Gattis, Fabinho and the veteran Steven Vitoria.

Tactically, this proved to be a great decision as the Union defense held Orlando City to just 1 shot on target – an attempt from distance that was easily handled by Union keeper John McCarthy.

Warren Creavalle , who came on as a sub in the midfield in the 79th minute, solidified the defense and the Union were able to gain a valuable road point and more importantly, hold a team they are chasing in Orlando City.

Creavalle was acquired to help offset the loss of Sheanon Williams who went to Houston Dynamo in a trade in late July and his steadiness in a defensive midfield role was very useful against Orlando.

Philadelphia needs to keep this defensive shape should it hope to defeat Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup tie in midweek.

An in-form Sebastian LeToux is a very good sign as the veteran is the all-time leading scorer in US Open Cup play and seems to find the net every US Open Cup match.

What the Union will need is to hold the Chicago Fire which although on paper Chicago looks like a weak side, but they boast one of the league’s best players in Harry Ship.  Jeff Laurentowicz is also a dangerous attacking player, and their designated player Jeff Accam appears to be in form as well.

Another interesting piece is the play of newly acquired Tranquillo Barnetta who was deployed in a central midfield role by Union against Orando.

He again looked out of place, and would figure not to feature in midweek as he was substituted out.

Maurice Edu’s health status will again be a question mark for the match against the Fire.

The Union need his defensive presence although the combination of Creavalle and Vitoria was effective.

A clean sheet for McCarthy is also an excellent sign.

The Union have struggled with consistency all year so perhaps this good performance against Orlando is a bad sign.

However, a fan would hope that instead of struggling, the Union can build off this game in both US Open Cup action and league play.

As far as league play goes, the Union got great news when New York Red Bulls took down NYCFC for the third time this year which held City on 24 points, 1 ahead of Philadelphia.

Union sit five points behind the final playoff position.

 

 

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