Union

Union sign attacker Fafa Picault for 1-year contract

Union sign attacker Fafa Picault for 1-year contract

CHESTER, Pa. — Fafa Picault is officially joining the Union

In the latest of a series of big roster additions, the Union signed the speedy attacker Picault to a one-year deal Thursday. Picault, who was on trial with the Union, is a Discovery Signing. 

“We are excited to bring Fafa to our club for the 2017 season,” Union sporting director Earnie Stewart said. “He provides depth for us and brings a lot of excitement with his speed and ability to move up and down the pitch.” 

The 25-year-old New York native is an interesting addition to the Union. Primarily used as a center forward throughout his career, Picault would need to wrestle with C.J. Sapong, Jay Simpson and Charlie Davies for playing time. However, given his speed and the Union’s roster makeup, Picault is expected to be used to spell Chris Pontius as a left wing attacker, which isn’t a position of depth for the Union.

He also adds a speedy dynamic the team didn’t possess last season.

“Fafa Picault adds an element of speed that I can’t teach,” Union manager Jim Curtin said Saturday. “It’s a different level of speed. He can really fly and comes from a good environment in Germany. He’s hungry.”

Picault always brings a varied but experienced background. Beginning his youth career in Italy with Cagliari, he played 18 games with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2012 and 24 with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2014. He eventually moved to AC Sparta Prague in Europe before landing at FC St. Pauli, where he has resided since 2015.

Picault also picked up the first cap of his career with the U.S. Men’s National Team in a 2016 friendly against Puerto Rico. 

Signing Picault is the latest move for the suddenly active Union, who have added defender Oguchi Onyewu and midfielder Haris Medunjanin in recent days. The Union travel to Clearwater, Florida, Tuesday to partake in the second phase of the preseason. They face the Tampa Bay Rowdies in an exhibition match on Feb. 18.

Union's season ends with loss to NYCFC in MLS knockout round

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AP Images

Union's season ends with loss to NYCFC in MLS knockout round

BOX SCORE

After suffering a lopsided defeat to NYCFC in the season finale at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, the Union marched back up to the Bronx on Wednesday night and did it again, falling, 3-1, in the knockout round of the 2018 MLS Playoffs to end their season.

• It was the fourth playoff match in franchise history for the Union and also their fourth loss. The club has yet to win a playoff game in its nine-year history. NYCFC moves on to face Atlanta United in a home-and-home aggregate series. 

• Union manager Jim Curtin put his fingerprint on the playoff match by slotting Alejandro Bedoya in at his natural right attacking midfield side, while tapping veteran Warren Creavalle to break up the middle of the field next to Haris Medunjanin. 

• It was a creative idea that ultimately failed to impact the match. Creavalle was pulled for Ilsinho at the half as the Union pushed for a more sustained offense. It took a while but paid off in the 83rd minute, when Ilsinho found Burke for the cross and tap-in goal to make it 3-1. 

• Before that, though, off a Mark McKenzie turnover in the 10th minute, NYCFC opened the scoring on a beautiful play. A Maxi Moralez pass found Ismael Tajouri-Shradi for the half bounce rocket to beat Andre Blake and claim the 1-0 NYCFC lead. David Villa doubled the NYCFC lead in the 26th minute. 

• The Union appeared to gain traction late in the first half when Bedoya was de-cleated in the box. It should have been a penalty kick but somehow went uncalled. It was that kind of night. The Union finished the first half with no shots on goal and just two in the second. 

• It didn’t get much better in the second half. As the Union pressed, Moralez chipped Blake on a fast break for the 3-0 lead. The Union were thoroughly outclassed all match long and especially struggled to generate offensive chances.

• The sting of defeat in important matches is a familiar one for the Union, who have lost four playoff matches and three U.S. Open Cup finals in the club’s history. Wednesday wasn’t even the most painful of the season, as the Union were crushed in Houston against the non-playoff Dynamo, 3-0, in the Open Cup finals back in September.

• But despite the disappointment, it was still a record season for the 2018 Union, who claimed the franchise record in total points, wins and road wins. Midfielder Borek Dockal took the MLS assist crown and young defenders McKenzie and Auston Trusty made names for themselves. Things have been worse for the Union.

Union lose at NYFC in regular season finale with playoff seeding on line

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USA Today Images

Union lose at NYFC in regular season finale with playoff seeding on line

BOX SCORE 

NEW YORK — David Villa scored his 14th goal of the season and New York City FC beat the Philadelphia Union 3-1 on Sunday to clinch the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

NYCFC (16-10-8) won for just the second time in its last 10 matches, with five loses, averaging just 0.9 goals per game. Philadelphia (15-14-5) has lost five of its nine matches against NYCFC.

Either team could have secured the top-three seed with a victory.

NYCFC had a 2-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes on Maxime Chanot's first goal of the season and Auston Trusty's own goal. Villa made it 3-1 in the 34th.

Cory Burke pulled Philadelphia within 2-1 in the 14th. C.J. Sapong was fouled inside the penalty area in the 59th, but NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson denied Fafa Picault's penalty shot, diving to his right to block the low attempt.