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Philadelphia Union Notes: Fafa Picault in form, Marco Fabian progressing well

Joining an in-form Fafa Picault in what coach Jim Curtin promises to be a changed starting XI could be Marco Fabian, while Jamiro Monteiro is out with an ankle injury

CHESTER, Pa. — With his goal on Wednesday night against Orlando City SC, Philadelphia Union forward Fafa Picault became the third player to record 20 goals and 10 assists for the club.

Picault, who has scored in each of the last two games, has no shortage of inner motivation and is more than ready to make an impact in the second half of the season. 

“t starts to get more serious, the points are a bit more crucial,” Picault said. “I think now is the most important time to be able to help my team.” 

“The playing time (in the first half) was inconsistent,” Picault said. “Getting used to the new formation and now I’m comfortable and I’m getting more minutes and I’m able to do what I’ve already done for the club in the last two years and just continue to prove it.” 

Picault’s numbers from a year ago suggest his two-game run is just the start of something positive for the Union. In 2018, he scored nine of his 10 goals after June 23. 

Some of Picault’s drive was shown in a tweet he posted after he played a vital role in setting up Kacper Przybylko for a late equalizer June 26 against New England. 

“I’ve always been self motivated and I’m my biggest critic,” Picault said. “That comes from obviously having to hear a lot on a lot of ends. seeing a lot of guys around the league get more recognition. People took it for whatever they wanted to take it for. I won’t say what it was for, but I think everybody can summarize it as they want. At the end of the day, that’s just me reminding people of what I’ve already done because people seem to forget so easily.” 

“Obviously, I have to continue to do it on the pitch and I’ve done that and I’m going to keep closing mouths and keep proving the people that believe in me correct.” 

The connection between Picault and Przybylko has been on display in the last three games, with the two scoring all six of the goals the Union have netted. 

“I think those guys have done a really good job playing off of each other, setting each other up for goals in some ways,” Union manager Jim Curtin said. “Who’s going to be that guy and runs away with it and goes into double digits for the year? I think (all of the forwards are) capable. Right now, Kacper and Fafa have stepped up in the right way. “

The uptick in production from the forwards has come in the three games since Andrew Wooten was announced as the Union’s latest attacking addition.

“There’s no coincidence,” Curtin said. “Competition brings out the best in all people, at every level, in any job, in any profession. When you’re challenged every day and the environment is such that there’s someone behind you pushing you, you’re going to perform better and i think that’s an example of that.” 

Fabian to the starting XI?

The Union could be making another addition to the attack Saturday with the return of Marco Fabian to the starting lineup.

Fabian has played 42 minutes over the last two games after recovering from an ankle injury, and Saturday could be the perfect opportunity to test it for more than 25 minutes. 

Jun 2, 2019; Saint Paul , MN, USA; Philadelphia Union forward Marco Fabian (10) carries the ball during the second half against Minnesota United at Allianz Field. (Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

“Physically I feel good,” Fabian said. “Most important is my ankle after my injury. I feel better for sure, but I want to make sure I’m comfortable in the next games.” 

Fabian would bring an extra element to the Union attack by taking up the space in the middle of the park 25-30 yards from goal, where the Union have lacked a significant impact player. 

“I need to find the places and also the qualities from Fafa and Kacper,” Fabian said. “I know they played so well in the last few games. My job right now is to keep the ball and find them and try to also create space. I know Kacper, he has good movement as a forward and Fafa makes good runs as well so I think right now this is my job, to try and find them.” 

“When you are inside, you try to find the space for them, but also you have space for yourself so I am there,” Fabian said. “I am close to the ball and close to scoring. If I can score, I have space to shoot.” 

Monteiro out

Fabian is in line to start at the No. 10 role Saturday since Jamiro Monteiro is out with a left ankle injury. Monteiro suffered the injury on a red-card tackle by Sacha Kljestan Wednesday at Exploria Stadium.

Jul 3, 2019; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City SC midfielder Sacha Kljestan (16) tackles Philadelphia Union midfielder Jamiro Monteiro (35) during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. Kljestan received a red card on the play. (Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports)

“(Monteiro) had some X-rays. We’re still waiting on the results to get back. He won’t be available tomorrow,” Curtin said. “I think that’s clear to everybody. It’s a difficult one, a guy that’s been a huge part of our success.

“For me, one of the top players in our league. On certain other teams, maybe he’d be getting a lot more publicity than he’d be getting for the quality he brings. It’s serious, but hopefully he doesn’t miss much time.” 

The Union will likely make a few changes to their lineup, with Aurelien Collin the favorite to replace Auston Trusty at center back to add a pair of fresh legs to the matchday squad, which will trend more toward the defensive side because of the available players. 

“We want to have at least a couple fresh bodies out on the field tomorrow,” Curtin said. “We can’t get too many because we’re not that healthy. We have a group of 5-6 defensive-minded subs we’ll have on our bench.” 

Goalkeeper Andre Blake will be one of the changes. Curtin confirmed Blake is ready to go after returning to the club from Gold Cup duty with Jamaica. 

“Andre is going to play.” Curtin said. 

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