Philadelphia Union – Match Report vs Atlanta United 24/10/19


  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average, don’t follow up

Match Overview

Philadelphia Union saw their 2019 MLS campaign end at the hands of Atlanta United in a game that finished 2-0 to the Georgia based club. Philadelphia lined up in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation with the midfield four acting as a fairly narrow diamond and this worked well when pressing high up the field, giving Atlanta little room to play out from the back and winning the ball in advanced positions. In the end, it was Atlanta’s pace and numbers on the counter attack that caused the Union’s demise, creating overloads and catching the Philadelphia defence off guard with their movement.

Brenden Aaronson

Player profile:

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 22/10/2000
  • Current Club: Philadelphia Union
  • Career: Philadelphia Union
  • Position: 10 (AM)
  • Secondary position: Central Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Brenden Aaronson had a productive game in the number 10 role playing in behind Philadelphia’s two strikers. His energy when pressing was particularly impressive, allowing the opposition defence and midfield little time on the ball and as a result he was able to win possession for his team or force a mistake on a couple of occasions. The 5’11 forward was strong and aggressive in challenges and he showed good awareness to nip in front of the opposition players.

When he did get the ball, Aaronson demonstrated a fine level of close control, beating defenders and managing to wriggle out of tight spaces. The American’s passing was to a good standard generally but he left room for improvement with his final ball, overhitting or misplacing some through balls in promising areas. Furthermore, despite linking up well with his teammates at times, Aaronson missed his side’s best opportunity to score as he was quickly closed down by the goalkeeper and so was unable to divert it either side of him. The 19 year old was not afraid to go beyond his team’s strikers when making runs and made some threatening darts in behind the Atlanta defence, and third man runs which allowed him to be in the position to have the aforementioned chance.

Overall, the attacking midfield player showed good positivity when pressing and seemed lively on the ball but his lack of end product in the final third let his performance down, and he was unfortunate to be withdrawn after 50 minutes.

Rating: B1

Kai Wagner

Player profile:

  • Nationality: German
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 15/02/1997
  • Current Club: Philadelphia Union
  • Career: FC Augsburg (Y), SSV Ulm 1846, Schalke 04, Würzburger Kickers, Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Left Back
  • Secondary position: Left Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Kai Wagner put in a solid attacking performance yet struggled at times against the pace and movement of the Atlanta forwards. The German drove forward well with the ball at his feet and made some crisp and accurate forward passes as well as delivering at least one dangerous cross. He showed good skill and strength on the ball as well as a decent turn of pace when the left wing opened up for him to exploit the space. When defending, Wagner showed a lot of aggression in his efforts to win possession, and this worked on occasion but also meant that he could be beaten by a quick change of direction and committed numerous needless fouls in his own half, eventually receiving a yellow card as a result. He made a couple of interceptions and important blocks and had little to deal with aerially.

Yet it was the movement of the forwards that he really struggled with at times, failing to track runs or being caught out in behind. The 23 year old was partially to blame for Atlanta’s opening goal as he was sucked inside by the movement of the striker, therefore leaving the right winger unmarked, who went on to score. This was a common problem for Wagner and the rest of the Philadelphia defence on the day who were unable to track the opposition wingers and midfielders effectively when they made runs due to them being distracted by the run of the striker.

Overall, the left back was willing to get forward to good effect, however, defensively his performance sometimes lacked composure and awareness.

Rating: B2

Jack Elliott

Player profile:

  • Nationality: English / Scottish
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 25/08/1995
  • Current Club: Philadelphia Union
  • Career: South Florida Surf, Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Central Defender
  • Preferred foot: Right

Similarly to Wagner, 6’6 Central defender Jack Elliott often had problems defending against the pace and agility of the opposition front line, in what was a mixed performance for the 24 year old. In possession, Elliott was sound for the most part, showing good confidence when passing or stepping out of the back line with the ball at his feet, however on one occasion he stepped into midfield only to then lose the ball and leave his team vulnerable to the counter attack. He is a big aerial presence at both ends of the pitch, but he was innaccurate with several of his headers in this game, missing a free header from a good chance to score and misdirecting a defensive header as well.

Defensively he stood up well, making some good tackles and showing good strength as well as reading the play cleverly at times to make interceptions. Elliott was often unable to deal with the pace of the attack which hindered him greatly. He was beaten by runs in behind and quick dribbling on several occasions, resorting to committing reckless fouls. He was too regularly drawn into midfield by the run of the striker, leaving space in behind him and didn’t help himself by sticking very tight to the back of the forwards.

Overall, a slightly disappointing display from Elliott in what was a difficult game, although he did show glimpses of promise.

Rating: B2

Mark Mckenzie

Player profile:

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 25/02/1999
  • Current Club: Philadelphia Union
  • Career: Philadelphia Union
  • Position: Central Defender
  • Secondary position: Left Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Playing as Elliott’s central defensive partner, Mark Mckenzie had a very mixed display, demonstrating a couple of good qualities and attributes but also making some poor mistakes. Mckenzie experienced many of the same issues as the rest of the Philadelphia back four of struggling to cope with the movement of the Atlanta forwards and as a result he allowed himself to be dragged out of position at times, or alternatively stood too far off and allowed the striker to turn with the ball.

The 6 foot American did make some good tackles, showing great strength and pace which bailed his team out on occassion. He also covered well when his teammates were drawn out of position, making some important interventions. Mckenzie did show an air of indecisiveness that cost his team, allowing the ball to run across his body from a cross which nearly gifted a chance to the opposition and then he misstimed a vital interception which allowed Josef Martinez to run through on goal and slot home for Atlanta. On the ball, he hit several fairly aimless long balls to the strikers and hit one or two loose passes along the floor, but he also showed some composure, venturing confidently with the ball into the opposition half and mking a couple of progressive passes.

On the whole, it was an up and down display from Mckenzie who demonstrated his inexperience at times but also showed some promise for the future.

Rating: B2


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