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Behind Enemy Lines: Three Questions with Brotherly Game

We talked with Justin F. from the Philadelphia Union SB Nation blog Brotherly Game about Wednesday's midweek match.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

1) After a few weeks since the trade, how much are the Union missing Jack McInerny and how much are they enjoying Andrew Wenger?

The Union are simply missing offense and they have not been enjoying Andrew Wenger all that much. McInerney was traded a month ago because the organization believed he no longer fit in tactically with the team. Last off-season the Union revamped their midfield completely and shifted from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3, and with McInerney not fitting in greatly and struggling to score, the Union made a move for Wenger. Unfortunately there is only so much tactical fit can do for a player and the Wenger experiment has not gone as well as planned to say the least. Wenger's only tallied one goal since the trade.

2) Last year the Union were very strong on the counter and that burned Sporting KC a couple of times. Is this strength similar this season?

Nothing involving offense has been much of a strength this season. But to that extent, the Union have not been much of a counterattacking team this year. What the Union will try to do is control the midfield and possess the ball using a plodding style that many will criticize as listless and lackluster. They will not make many strong runs going forward and will make a meal of it when it comes to putting shots on target. I'd like to see them play on the counter some more, but the defense has been so leaky that allowing possession may not be highly recommended right now, especially if Hackworth opts to start forward Aaron Wheeler in central defense again over actual central defender Austin Berry. The Union's strength lies in the midfield this year, but unfortunately they have not been able to do much of anything with it.

3) Philadelphia hasn't won a match since March 15th. What do the Union need to do to get back on track this season?

First of all, they need to better their finishing. It's not just one person who needs to do better, it is the whole team. Granted though some of this is luck. The Union have not scored from the run of play in 450 minutes. No team in MLS, no matter how bad, is going to finish at a 0% clip from the run of play forever.

Secondly they need to do a better job at supporting goalkeeper Zac MacMath. The defense had been a problem when Union manager John Hackworth had started Wheeler over Berry, but it was slightly better when Hackworth went back to Berry versus D.C. United. And things went well against D.C. United, only allowing one quality chance. Tragically for the Union, that one quality chance ended up in the net, costing the Union three points as the Union generated little in the way of attacking threat for 90 minutes. Despite occasionally good play though, the Union are among the worst teams in the league in allowing shots from inside the 16-yard box. How much of that is negatively impacted by Wheeler is uncertain, but in order for the team to turn this season around, the defense needs to continue improved play.

Thirdly, Hackworth is just not adept at putting his players in a position to succeed. As I mentioned above, he has frequently experimented with a forward (Wheeler) in central defense, he will use Fabinho (a left back) as an attacking winger on occasion, and he frequently makes poor in-game substitutions that hinders the team instead of helping it. It has been a combination of everything possible going wrong for the Union that has led to the worst start in franchise history, which given how general optimism had rarely been higher for the Union than it was before this season, stings even more.

You can see the other side of the conversation over at Brotherly Game, linked here.