CHESTER, PA– Dom Dwyer, Justin Meram and Sacha Kljestan have 10 goals between them against the Philadelphia Union.
Each of the three experienced Major League Soccer players posed a threat on their former clubs that the Union were able to focus on defensively.
Now, with the three high-profile names together in the Orlando City, the Union have plenty to worry about between Dwyer’s physical play up top, Kljestan incisive passing in the middle of the final third and Meram pace and scoring ability from the wing.
Despite the expected presence of the trio at Talen Energy Stadium Friday night, the Union defense is focusing on its own abilities in order to earn the club’s first win since Week 1.
“I think most of the time my answer is it’s so much more important how we play and what we do to limit the amount of time they’re on the ball,” Union right back Keegan Rosenberry said. “From their past couple results, they’ve been down and still able to get goals and come back and win. For us, it’s just not to take plays off, like we saw in Colorado one little set piece got us quickly three goals down.”
“I think it’s trying to stay focused on those impact guys throughout the game, and even if the game seems in hand, or we go up, or it’s similar to last week against San Jose, we have a lot of the ball in the first half and they get a counter goal,” Rosenberry said. “Try to limit even moreso the chances they get.”
Outside of a few errors, the Union back line, which earned the honor of youngest back line to start an MLS game against Colorado, has held firm.
Philadelphia owns two clean sheets and it conceded just once a week ago against San Jose, a play that can’t be criticized a ton as Auston Trusty properly read his pressing key, but the ball took a bounce in favor of the Earthquakes.
Rosenberry, who is the most experienced of the quartet, is impressed with the progress shown by Homegrowns Trusty and Matthew Real.
Continuing to play with confidence is key for the pair of young players as they deal with a new threat from Orlando.
“Even the limited the game experience they’ve had is really valuable,” Rosenberry said. “They’ve done really well with it. The biggest thing with all those guys is they’re so clever in their positioning and starting spots and where they’re making runs, and even with the ball.”
“There’s been very talented guys on some of the opponents we’ve already played so they’ve done well with that so far.,” Rosenberry said. “It’s moreso about building their confidence and continue to believe them and have them believe in themselves.”
The defense also plays a key role in the Union attack, and the fullbacks should see more time on the ball Friday, as the home side looks to control the possession battle.
Rosenberry is no stranger to going forward, as he combines well on the right side with Alejandro Bedoya and whichever winger is lined up on that side of the field.
Even the centerbacks come into play as part of the press as they keep a high line and move the ball in the opponent’s end of the field.
“It’s almost always one of our focal points in trying to get the outside backs into attack and moreso with our center backs,” Rosenberry said. “The amount of times when we’re pressing the team and we have possession in their half and it’s just that one ball out where our center backs can step forward and keep them in.”
The key for the Union defenders while pressing is to avoid the mistakes that have led to the four goals they’ve conceded, three to Colorado and a fourth to San Jose, and if that happens, a victory should occur.
“It’s really easy to fall asleep in those moments and all of a sudden they play a pass back and they break us and we have to make 40-50 yard recovery runs,” Rosenberry said. “It’s being smart at the same time. If I’m all the way out I also have to be in a great spot whenever Matt is attacking and staying in a good spot. It’s very helpful for us and it can make us very dangerous when we have extra people in the attack, but also can leave us a little more susceptible at the back.”