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Fontana delivers again, this time in first start of MLS season

Anthony Fontana has had to wait for his time to impress in the Philadelphia Union midfield, but made the most of his first start this MLS season on Sunday night.

With Alejandro Bedoya suspended due to yellow card accumulation, Fontana started in Curtin’s 4-4-2 diamond formation and scored his fourth league goal of the season in a 3-0 victory over Inter Miami. With his latest gem of a performance, Fontana now has given Curtin a tough decision going forward with who to start and who to call on from the bench.

“And as you saw tonight, he’s a very lethal finisher,” Curtin said post match Sunday. “We still missed a couple of passes but overall, [I’m] happy for Anthony, the kid continues to produce for us. Everybody’s contributing right now and that locker room is really excited, really happy and they’re really together which is probably the most important thing.”

Fontana had totaled only 79 minutes of action prior to September, but since then has quickly tossed his name into consideration for more playing time. The 20-year-old has scored his four goals all in the last four appearances for the Union, helping them remain in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Despite not appearing in a midweek scoreless draw at FC Cincinnati, Fontana got the nod on Sunday and needed only 25 minutes to break the deadlock. He rifled a shot past Luis Robles into the top corner which eventually sent the Union on its way to its fourth win out of its past five matches.

Fontana’s Homegrown teammate Aaronson also found the back of the net while Mark McKenzie helped silence Miami’s newest arrival, Gonzalo Higuain in attack. Overall, it was a top performance from Fontana and the younger players in a bounce-back win.

“It’s awesome,” Fontana said. “Every minute that us homegrowns step on the field, we always want to make an impact. And as of late we’ve been killing it. It’s all down to the work we’ve been putting in and we’ve just got to keep it up, it’s as simple as that.”

With Bedoya unavailable, the rest of the Union midfield stepped up and frustrated Inter Miami for 90 minutes. Blaise Matuidi was also held in check by the Union, while Rodolfo Pizarro and Lewis Morgan failed to produce much in the final third.

As for Fontana, he was substituted off in the 61st minute, but delivered in his first start of the season. Now with the Union receiving Bedoya back for a trip to Connecticut to face off with third place Toronto FC, it will be intriguing to see if Fontana retains his starting role or who gets dropped from the midfield to make room for Bedoya.

“The fact that I was up one-v-one against Matuidi pretty much the whole night was just an awesome experience,” Fontana said. “I was up for the test. I really wanted to test myself against him and I feel like I did well.”

The Union sit in second place on goal difference, two points behind Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew.

Comments

  1. Hard to remember a potential USMNT prospect over the last 10 years in the attacking mid slot who hits the ball as cleanly as this kid from outside the 18.

    Reply
    • i would look at it slightly different. for me starting is fitness and overall quality because you might be out there for 90. but the bench, to me, should have at least some players there for specific qualities, even if their game is uneven. people who can cross, people who are fast, people who could head, people who could defend…..and people who can hammer a shot accurately. situation specific subs. you know, actually coaching to the game. too much of USMNT these days is done on a pure snobby evaluation of overall quality and professionalism. but a solid hustle player like roldan is actually fairly useless in most subbing situations other than already having a lead. so if the kid can shoot i want him involved not so much because he grades out ready — he’s not there to start — but because in the right game i want that attribute available. kind of like preki used to be used. preki wasn’t fast or tall or fit, wasn’t going to start, wasn’t going to be a team defender. but he had that same one thing. it’s time to get back to a bench where it’s a variety of options that could be used depending what we need. as opposed to pushbutton subbing of the next guy the coach likes.

      Reply
    • to me i feel like when we went all BerhalterSystem we regressed in terms of real coaching skills, understanding how to select players or game manage. when’s the last time we came from behind to beat a good team because of a smart sub? or a subtle formation change? there is too much emphasis on fit to system and adjusting tactics to the game flow would threaten forcing the system. to me we’re there to win games and if the system doesn’t do that then the tactics should adjust when needed, or in general.

      Reply
      • I’m not sure about coming from behind but adjustments were made in the January friendlies in 2019 I think both were tied and changed and subs led to goals. I can’t think of changes that led to a victory, I think Gregg was trying to switch in the GC final to a 4-4–1-1 with 2 DMs but almost immediately Mexico scored and he had to push Arriola and Roldan back high but it didn’t work and/or didn’t have time. I’d agree we haven’t seen a lot of obvious adjustments in game from Berhalter which was odd because that’s what he was known for in MLS. My only guess is that he’s trying so hard to teach the system that 2019 was purely a learning experiment and results were secondary. I don’t know that that was a great strategy but when they needed a win against Canada you saw practical changes to the tactics to just win not win through possession.
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        I think now we see less and less of the player that plays 90 minutes both matches of a window so we see more like for like and less and less situational subs like you suggest. Arena last cycle used almost two complete lineups each window until ironically Trinidad when he started the same 11 or almost and they looked sluggish and uninspired. Some of that might be related to more players in Europe. If Reyna has to fly from Germany to California then Cali to Panama, do you want Fontana that can only give you 15 to 20 minutes when you’re behind to try to hit a blast or do you want Lletget who can give you 60 minutes on the road and play both defense and offense. I think when your in a tournament like the WC with the season over and a big break after you can use specialists more. Another thing to consider for friendlies are you going to tick off clubs if bring say Dike away from Orlando in case we need a headed goal. The guy misses training and with MLS maybe a match to play 5 minutes or maybe none if we are ahead in the matches.

      • you hint at the real reason we don’t do adjustments or subs well. that we are force feeding the system. but most normal teams down a goal to mexico in a regional final would not just continue their formation and sub in a left back. and results for the year were so moderate that it’s like, where is the system value, and when do they look like they know what they are doing again? they looked awful and barely made it out of NL group play. i’d expect more from a year of system focus — if the system was really the better mousetrap you suggest. personally i think mexico ate our system for breakfast and that should have been that. i think concacaf would send berhalter an annual xmas fruit basket if he perseverates in trying to build from the back right up the middle, or to make us a fangless possession team.

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