Union’s Kai Wagner suspended as big stretch of home games begins with FC Cincinnati
The Union pass the eye test, and they pass the statistical test by sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference at the start of May.
There are days when it seems like the only publicity the Union get is bad publicity.
Yet, on the field, they’re actually decent, sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference at the start of May.
Don’t confuse that for being great. Only a few of MLS’ 24 teams are: Los Angeles FC and the Galaxy, Seattle and Toronto. But the Union seem to be legitimately good. After losing their first two games of the season, they’ve lost just one of their last seven.
Now, the Union are at home for five of their next six games, including Wednesday against FC Cincinnati (7:30 p.m., PHL17) and Saturday against New England. Sweep those, and the Union will have racked up seven points in a week. That would be the kind of statement that gets good publicity.
“You made it sound so easy,” Union manager Jim Curtin said after Tuesday’s practice. “The players have worked their tails off to have it set up this way. ... You can either separate, or you can go back into the pack, and we want to separate.”
Curtin will need to continue making full use of his team’s depth. That includes accounting for an additional game suspension for left back Kai Wagner due to his red card against Montreal last week.
Kacper Przybylko’s first MLS goal in Saturday’s 1-1 tie with the Vancouver Whitecaps means that three of the five forwards have scored this year. Of the two who haven’t found the net, Fafa Picault ranks No. 2 on the team in shots taken (16) and chances created (6), and Sergio Santos is getting healthy.
And Marco Fabián, the team’s No. 1 in shots and chances created, was on the field Tuesday. Curtin said Fabián might make the bench Wednesday. A return to action Saturday seems more likely. Goalie Andre Blake is likely out for at least another week.
Fabián "has shown well in training, still isn’t 100 percent, but is close to being available,” Curtin said. “Sergio has been very sharp in practices and looks to be fully ready to go. Fitness will be an element with him in terms of how many minutes that will be, but he certainly has played well in training, and we’re ready to see him again.”