Week 16 Recap: The Kids Are Alright

By Siobhan Nolan, Contributing Writer

It’s likely that the Union will want to get on the plane back to Philadelphia and forget that this road trip to Florida ever happened. A loss to Orlando City SC and a tie (that was very nearly a loss) to Inter Miami will give Jim Curtin and his players a lot to think about as they take a week-long break from games.

Despite coming into this game with a meager eight points and the worst record in the league, Miami controlled possession for a large majority of the game. While they weren’t always engaging in threatening counterattacks of their own, they made sure to slow down any offensive push from the Union by having diligent one-on-one man-marking and easily dispossessing the visitors.

The midfield, made up of Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya, and Jamiro Monteiro wholly failed to impress. While Martinez was able to hold down the base of the midfield diamond, Flach and Bedoya looked lost trying to move the ball out of their own half, while Monteiro and Daniel Gazdag failed to move the ball into any remotely dangerous scoring opportunities.

After mercifully ending the first 45 minutes in a scoreless deadlock, Miami were able to find the back of the net in the 71st minute. Robbie Robinson was allowed entirely too much space at the edge of the box, and gleefully took advantage of an absent Union back line to bend the ball past goalie Matt Freese.

Curtin then decided to put fresh legs on the field for the Union, surprisingly taking Monteiro off to swap in Sergio Santos in an attempt to generate some offense. Ilsinho also saw game time for the first time since a groin injury sidelined him in April..

However, and perhaps unsurprisingly, substituting Quinn Sullivan was the difference-maker in this game. Much like his performance off the bench against Orlando, Sullivan immediately made an impact. He was creating space to move the ball up near the box, maneuvering around pressing Miami defenders, and unselfishly distributing the ball to a wide range of areas in front of the net.

Sullivan ultimately ended up creating the game-tying goal, after an elegant pass exchange with Gazdag fed the 17-year-old a well-placed backheel pass. Sullivan was able to hit it perfectly to Kacper Przybylko, who promptly placed it in the back of the net.

Man of the Match: This easily goes to Sullivan. He always livens up the offense when he steps onto the field, and many of the Union’s best scoring chances come from his skill in moving the ball forward. Although Przybylko is officially credited for the goal, it simply wouldn’t have come close to happening without Sullivan. It makes a fan wonder why he doesn’t start more often…

The Main Takeaway: It’s clear that something isn’t working in this Union team. It could very much be attributed to the absences of Andre Blake, Cory Burke, and Alvas Powell (who will now return to the Union after Jamaica was knocked out of the CONCACAF Gold Cup by the United States). It could be that playing almost every single game this season is finally catching up to certain players. It could be that there needs to be some new signings (or a more regular presence of younger players) to inject some creativity and new life into this side. At this point, it’s difficult to say for sure. But one thing is certain—Curtin needs to pinpoint it and solve it, and he needs to do it quickly.

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