When the Union’s starting lineup for Sunday’s game at D.C. United was unveiled an hour before kickoff, this writer was immediately drawn to the inclusion of Warren Creavalle over Brenden Aaronson.
It felt in the moment like the right move: Aaronson merited a day off after hitting a wall in his rookie season, and Creavalle would bring some needed defensive bite to the midfield.
The game proved the gut instinct right. In 55 minutes on the field, Creavalle registered 38 touches and one tackle, and completed 25 of 33 passes. He also contributed to the offense, creating three chances and assisting on Kacper Przybylko’s goal that made the score 4-1.
If the defensive stats seem small, that’s understandable. Put them in this context, though: D.C. star playmaker Luciano Acosta lined up on the same side of the field as Creavalle, and was held to just two chances created, two shots and 28 of 37 passes completed.
A few other observations on Sunday’s win:
A reader wrote last week to say that while he was suitably impressed by Marco Fabián’s recent good performances, he wanted to see the Union’s biggest star link up with his teammates more in midfield.
Fabián delivered on Sunday. He completed 42 of 50 passes, including 2 of 4 crosses and 2 of 2 long balls, and created six chances. One of them was the assist on Alejandro Bedoya’s goal in the third minute.
You already know about the two goals Fabián scored. He had six shots overall, of which five were on target. His total of 73 touches in the game was the second-highest on the team. The analysts at WhoScored.com gave his performance a perfect 10.00 rating.
After all the criticism this column has given Ray Gaddis in recent weeks, it’s only fair to praise his good performance in D.C. He had 53 touches, a team-high four tackles, completed 30 of 36 passes and even created one chance for the attack.
Andrew Wooten was relatively quiet in his first start for the Union. He registered 33 touches and only one shot, and completed just 14 of 23 passes. But he created 2 chances, won 3 aerial duals, and set up the opening goal with a Heisman-worthy stiff-arm of D.C.'s Joseph Mora.
Wooten was signed to be a starter. Now that he finally is, expect him to remain it.
As with Aaronson, Auston Trusty probably deserved a night off after hitting a wall in recent weeks. There’s no shame in that. Both academy products will probably come back better after some rest.
It was surprising that Mark McKenzie didn’t get the call, and that will be a talking point in the next few days. For now, give credit to Aurélien Collin for an impressive game. He recorded 59 touches, 1 tackle, 1 block and a game-high 6 clearances, won three aerial duels, and completed 44 of 48 passes.