It’s been a long time since the New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union squared off in March. Both teams have had drastically different seasons in the opposite of their expectations.
But with the Union’s recent dip in form, they’ve turned to the trade market and Charlie Davies to right their attack along with United States international Alejandro Bedoya. The Revs two months ago also made their big trade in getting Kei Kamara, so which striker will help his team to victory today?
We chat with Eugene Rupinski from Brotherly Game again, don’t forget to check out my answers to Eugene’s questions over on their site.
TBM: What's the overall reception for the Davies trade in Philly? How much is he going to upgrade the striker position for the Union and is it worth the cost of a 1st Rd pick and allocation monies?
ER: One of the biggest talking points up until acquiring Davies was the need for the Union to get depth at striker. CJ Sapong has performed admirably, but also missed part of the season with injuries. Fabian Herbers has been great as a bench option, but is still a rookie and learning his craft at this level. He too was injured, and the Union were left without anyone who could fill the role. Having Davies allows the Union to have that peace of mind that they have a guy that can come in for Sapong - be it for the last 30 minutes of a match or if he's out injured - and there won't be any significant drop off in quality.
As far as the price paid for him - and the rights to Alejandro Bedoya, which was mostly in draft picks and allocation money - I think it's a steal for the Union. The Union believe they've put themselves in a position where at least for the next few years, they'll be picking later in the draft. They won't be in the running for the top picks anymore, and after the first four to six picks in most drafts the quality drops significantly. The deeper you go, the more of a crapshoot it becomes, and the Union feel like they're giving away picks that will be a bit of a crapshoot for proven players like Charlie Davies and Alejandro Bedoya.
As for the money aspect of it, the Union seem to be doing well with managing that as well. As much of a fan favorite as Sebastien Le Toux was, his deal was bad business for the Union. The 32 year old was mostly a bench option and was making $300k, which in a salary cap league is a bad deal for the Union. Earnie Stewart has a track record of buying low and selling high, which will allow the Union to be able to responsibly manage their assets - both in terms of money and in terms of personnel.
TBM: Everyone in the East is pretty much terrible on the road except for NYCFC, any reasons in particular for the Union's road struggles this year?
ER: I think what is partly to blame for the Union's struggles on the road is that their road trips have by and large been long trips away. The match today against the Revs will only be the third against an I95 rival - they've been to Yankee Stadium once and played against D.C. United at RFK last week. The other trips have been to Seattle, Dallas, Orlando, Colorado - much further than the two hours drive to New York City or Washington, D.C. I think you'll see these fortunes turn some now that they are going into a stretch where they'll play the Revolution, Toronto, Montreal, Red Bull - teams that are much closer to home.
TBM: Philly is winless in four and has just one win in seven which is a streak that's mostly tied to the departure of Vincent Nogiuera from the club. Explain what happened and how the Union have coped with out their French playmaker.
ER: Vincent had an undisclosed personal issue and went back to his native France. It was a massive blow to the Union, as he was the man that made the team tick. His ability to get back and defend and eat up space was as good as a central defensive midfielder, and along with his vision and passing ability he was able to be the link between defense and offense. He was a complete player at the 8 position - something that you don't find every day. The Union have tried replacing him with Roland Alberg, and while he's able to provide the offensive support, he's naturally a 10 so his defense is lacking. They tried Warren Creavalle, but he's more of a 6. So while Creavalle has the defensive chops, his offensive abilities are limited and that was problematic for the Union as well.
The hope now is that Alejandro Bedoya is the answer to this problem. He's said publicly that the 8 is his preferred position, however he's known more for his work on the wing and at the 10. So it'll be interesting to see how well he does at what has turned into a critical position for the Union.
OUT - Maurice Edu (left tibia stress reaction), Matt Jones (right MCL sprain), Brian Carroll (plantar fasciitis 8/6, out 3-6 weeks), Cole Missimo (low ab strain); QUESTIONABLE - Derrick Jones (right adductor strain)
Predicted Lineup: Andre Blake; Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Josh Yaro, Keegan Rosenberry; Alejandro Bedoya, Tranquillo Barnetta; Chris Pontius, Roland Alberg, Ilsinho; CJ Sapong