Union

2 Union players hopeful for hardware

usa-andre-blake-union.jpg
USA Today Images

2 Union players hopeful for hardware

For the second consecutive year, the Union are well represented in the MLS awards discussion. 

Announced by the league on Tuesday, Union goalkeeper and reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Andre Blake has been named a finalist for the accolade, while rookie center back Jack Elliott follows teammate and 2016 nominee Keegan Rosenberry as a finalist for Rookie of the Year. 

Both Blake and Elliott were bright spots in the Union’s dreary season by solidifying a defensive corps that only allowed 47 goals in 34 games. The Eastern Conference average was 49.7. 

Blake, who has become a bonafide MLS star, ended the 2017 campaign with force, adding his usual acrobatic flair to 88 saves in 26 starts — good for ninth in MLS. He also finished with a career-high nine shutouts, tied for fifth, despite playing fewer games than nearly all of the league’s top goalkeepers. 

For Elliott, it was about consistency. The 6-foot-5 MLS newcomer out of London, England, was drafted from the University of West Virginia in the fourth round of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Early injuries to Richie Marquez and Josh Yaro pushed Elliott into the fire early in 2017 and the 23-year-old didn’t look back. He made 29 starts and played in 30 games and scored one goal and one assist.

Yet, despite the production, neither Blake or Elliott is the favorite heading into the final selection, which will take place for rookies on Nov. 8 and goalkeepers on Nov. 16. Blake is up against Seattle Sounders’ Stefan Frei, who led MLS with 13 shutouts, and the favorite, Sporting Kansas City’s TIm Melia, who only allowed 24 goals in 31 games.

As a center back — a position that does not garner much attention in terms of individual awards — Elliott is at a disadvantage. He’s facing forward and 2017 first overall pick, Abu Danladi from Minnesota United, and attacking midfielder Julian Gressel from Atlanta United. Danladi finished with eight goals and three assists, while Gressel, the favorite to win, ended with five goals and nine assists.

MLS awards voting consists of total votes from selection media members, MLS players and MLS team front office members.

Fafa Picault, Union halt Sounders' MLS-record 9-game win streak

uspresswire-union-andre-blake.jpg
USA Today Images

Fafa Picault, Union halt Sounders' MLS-record 9-game win streak

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE -- Fafa Picault scored in the third minute of second-half stoppage time Wednesday night, and the Philadelphia Union halted Seattle's MLS-record nine-game winning streak by beating the Sounders 1-0.

Goalkeeper Stefan Frei rolled a soft clearance pass out toward defender Gustav Svensson. But Picault got to the ball an instant before Svensson did and took it into the left side of the penalty area 1-on-1 against Frei. From 8 yards away, he drilled it into the back center of the net for his eighth goal of the season.

The Union (13-12-4) won for the fifth time in six games.

The Sounders (13-10-5) lost for the first time since dropping a 3-2 decision to Portland in Seattle on June 30. In addition to the nine straight wins, they had an overall unbeaten streak of 12 games during that stretch (10-0-2), just one shy of the club record.

Philadelphia thought it had gotten on the board in the 65th minute when a long through ball from Haris Medunjanin found Cory Burke streaking up the right wing side. Burke took the ball to the right side of the 6-yard box and sent a shallow shot across the goalmouth and into the far side of the net.

The Sounders were back at midfield preparing to kick off when the video review was called. After just a few seconds, referee Ismail Elfath walked away from the screen and waved off the goal, ruling that Burke had been offside.

Union sign German striker Kacper Przybylko

ap-jim-curtin.jpg
AP Images

Union sign German striker Kacper Przybylko

The Union have called in a reinforcement. 

With six games remaining in the season, the Union added firepower on Sunday in the form of 6-foot-4 striker Kacper Przybylko. The German-born but Polish-capped Przybylko is signed through 2018 with a team option for the 2019 season. 

He was previously on trial with the club. It’s the team’s first addition under the reign of new Union sporting director Ernst Tanner, who took over for departed Earnie Stewart in early August.

“After having the opportunity to get an extended look at Kacper in training over the last few weeks, we are pleased to add him to our squad in advance of the MLS Roster Freeze,” said Union technical director Chris Albright in the team’s official release.

Przybylko, 25, joins a crowded Union forward corp that includes Cory Burke, C.J. Sapong and Jay Simpson. David Accam can also work in as a forward. But with Simpson expected to be let go at the end of 2018, Przybylko would fit in as much-needed depth. 

“He’s a physical forward with a nose for goal, and we are encouraged with his progress in recovering from injury,” Albright said. “We believe he bolsters our depth and we are looking forward to working his fitness up as we enter the stretch run of our season.”

The striker comes to the Union from the German 1. Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga circuit. His latest club was FC Kaiserslautern, where he played 47 matches and scored nine goals. Throughout his career, he also had stints with Greuther Fürth, Arminia Bielefeld and FC Koln. 

Though Przybylko isn’t in game form at the moment and isn’t expected to play any time soon, the Union could use him. 

Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Impact kicked off two-week gauntlet in which they’ll face five teams (see story). The Union travel to CenturyLink Field to take on the red-hot Seattle Sounders on Wednesday before returning home to host Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. The club then travels to Houston to challenge the Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup championship game, followed by a match against the Columbus Crew on the following Saturday.