CHESTER, PA– Fafà Picault didn’t sugarcoat his feelings on missing the Philadelphia Union’s first three games of the season.
The midfielder was suspended for the opening stretch of the Major League Soccer season due to offensive language in a closed-door friendly against Orlando City.
“It sucks. It’s not fun,” Picault said. “I don’t want to watch games, whether it’s suspension or injury. I’m just excited to get back. It’s a long season. I think we have 30 more games. Three games out of my whole career isn’t going to kill me. I’ll be more than alright.”
Picault went into detail on the incidents that led to MLS suspending him and Orlando City’s Pierre da Silva.
“I’ve had a lot of time over the last four or five weeks to think about it,” Picault said. “From my side, it was a situation I feel could have been a bit misinterpreted, but I served the penalty, served my three games over the last five weeks. It felt a little longer than it should have because of the byes and the international break. I’m just ready to get after it and look forward to a long and successful year.”
“It wasn’t between us,” Picault continued. “It was on two separate occasions in two separate closed-door friendlies. Nothing crazy happened. It was just a moment and a word that was taken completely, I guess, out of context. I respect the league’s zero tolerance and I’m ready to move forward from it and do what I have to do.”
With Picault back in the fold and David Accam on the opposite side of the field, the Union have two speedy wingers ready and willing to attack opposing defenses.
“Once we get that together, it’s going to be awesome,” Picault said. “There’s a lot of speed, plus we have C.J. up top who is fast and strong. I think at the end of the day it’s going to work. It’s just to take a little time of us doing it together. It was a setback for the three games I wasn’t able to play. We haven’t seen it or try it too much. I think once we do get settled in and playing together, it’s going to be great.”
With Picault and Accam breaking down opposing fullbacks, it should open space for Borek Dockal to operate in the middle of the park, which has been a struggle for the Union in their last two games.
“I think we’re going to stretch a lot of defenses,” Picault said. “I think wing backs are going to be a little more scared to push up and it gives us more space to do things, and if we’re marked up tight, it will give the middle the ability to create chances from there. I think there’s going to be a lot of options, not just one or two. When you have two fast guys who can create, it’s always going to mix up other teams and that’s the reason you try to bring them on board and have them on the same team.”
The expectations for Picault are high after he contributed seven goals and three assists in his first MLS season.
With the 27-year-old holding himself to a high standard, and the Union adding new attacking assets in the offseason, Picault is excited for the front four to create, starting with Saturday’s home clash with the San Jose Earthquakes.
“Just looking at it from a point of view last year, I was the American with the most goals as a winger,’ Picault said. “Now we have a guy who I’m looking forward to get balls slipped behind me. I just want to build off of last year and get better. It’s going to take a few games, maybe one, maybe two, whatever time it takes.
“We’re going to jell and we already started off better than last year so we’re only three games in. The last game is no need to panic. Just like a 3-0 win for us, there’s no reason to get overly hyped. It’s the fourth game and I’m ready to keep building and again it’s a long season. In May alone we have six games. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing and focus on building the team together.”