Atlanta United and the Philadelphia Union are seeing their seasons start off rather similarly. Both clubs are looking for their first win: Atlanta lost to D.C. United 2-0 before drawing 1-1 with newcomers FC Cincinnati, while the Union are looking for their first point after losses to Toronto FC and Sporting Kansas City - a match they played without Marco Fabian for the final half-hour due to a red card. It’s too early to be desperate, but getting three points can provide a sense of optimism for one of these two fanbases.
To help us dig in to Sunday’s matchup, I had a chance to get with Matt Ralph, the co-managing editor of Brotherly Game.
Like Atlanta, Philly’s gotten off to a slow start and are looking for its first win on the season - one of your writers, in fact, wrote a bit of a scathing piece about his frustration with the club on Tuesday. What are the main areas of concern for this group right now in the early going, and moving forward throughout the season?
Fans are frustrated with what so far has been another slow start to the season despite some positive signs in the offseason. I think it’s a bit premature to weigh in on the team’s prospect for the long haul of the season, but I’d say right now the biggest concern is a failure to score goals, a shaky defense and a team that’s still adjusting to the new 4-4-2 formation and system that focuses on an aggressive high press and transition play to create quick counterstrike goals.
Jamiro Montiero was recently brought in on loan from Ligue 2 in France. When should we expect to see him play, and what are your thoughts on how he can contribute?
There’s an outside chance that Jamiro will be cleared to play for Sunday, but it’s more likely that he makes his Union debut at home next weekend. From what we’ve seen of him in training he appears to be the kind of guy who be pretty disruptive and provide additional defensive cover for Haris Medunjanin, who has struggled in the early going with his defensive responsibilities in the bottom of the diamond midfield.
There’s a possibility of HGP Brenden Aaronson starting on Sunday. What are your impressions of him from what you’ve seen, and how does he fit into that core of young players already on the Union roster?
Brenden Aaronson is arguably the most exciting prospect on the team right now because of his potential as an attacking midfielder. He was really good down the stretch with Bethlehem Steel last fall and had a strong preseason. He’s a shifty player on the ball with great vision who according to head coach Jim Curtin is ready for the next step in his development. We’ll see Sunday if he shows up in the starting lineup for his debut, but the signs are pointing to that being the case.