By DAN KARELL
After reeling off two wins in three matches last week, both against the Chicago Fire, the Philadelphia Union were given an additional boost this week with the news that Jeff Parke is fully fit.
Parke went down with a hamstring strain in the Union’s 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders on May 4, forcing him out of the team’s last three matches. Parke’s return also raises questions about the future of Bakary Soumare, who filled in admirably for Parke during the absence.
“It leaves us with a tough decision,” Union assistant coach and technical director Rob Vartughian said during the club’s weekly press conference. “(Soumare) has been really good. He’s had these last three games, and he’s played really well, and it’s something we’ve been talking about heading into this week.”
Soumare performed well in his first playing time of the season, a stint of starts that came after he had asked to be traded. Vartughian didn’t specifically say whether Soumare was still on the trading block or not, but pointed towards keeping him on the squad for now based on his recent form.
Here are some more notes from the Union presser:
UNION EXCITED FOR ANOTHER REGIONAL RIVALRY
The biggest news in Major League Soccer this week is undoubtedly the announcement of New York City FC becoming the league’s 20th team.
The impact of the announcement is certainly felt in the Union camp, as they’ll be playing another team in the region, as well as a club going through it’s beginning years just like the Union are now.
“I think it’s awesome, I think it elevates the league,” Vartughian said. “I think relative to this area, and now having another “rival” (emphasis by Vartughian), another team that is in New York, another team that’s in the Northeast, it’s going to create natural rivalries and big games.
“I think it’s fantastic for the league.”
UNION HAPPY WITH FLEXIBILITY IN THE MIDFIELD
In Saturday’s 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire, midfielder Michael Farfan started on his favored right side, pushing teammate Danny Cruz over to the left.
The move was a tactical one just for that specific match according to Vartughian, but shows that the team has plenty of flexibility throughout the midfield.
“It speaks to some of the player’s versatility, and their ability to adjust in a game’s notice,” Vartughian said. “For us it worked, and we’re happy with it, and moving forward it’s something we can look back on.”
Added Vartughian: “If you’re talking with those three guys, (Farfan, Keon Daniel, Kleberson), all those guys have quality. In moments like this where we have three games in eight days, situations of potential call-ups….we have options there.”
In terms of potential call-ups, Keon Daniel has been selected by the Trinidad & Tobago National Team for upcoming friendly matches against Romania on June 4 and Estonia on June 7, meaning he will certainly miss the Union match against the Columbus Crew on June 5 and potentially the match against Toronto FC on June 1.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Michael Lahoud is the lone injury being reported by the Union staff. According to the league’s injury report he has a lower abdomen strain.
- The Union will have a second week in three where they’ll have to play three matches in eight days, as they drew the Ocean City Nor’easters in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. The match is set to be played on Tuesday, May 28 at PPL Park.
- Vartughian noted that the team may have to rotate players next week for the Cup match, potentially giving Roger Torres a chance to make his first appearance in MLS action since the season opener.
What do you make of these notes? Do you see Parke starting this Saturday against Montreal? Excited for an additional Northeast corridor rivalry? Do you see the Union starting Cruz on the left wing again?
Share your thoughts below.