Questions have been asked, and on Saturday, they will start to be answered.
Saturday starts a new era in Union soccer. Here’s three of the questions that have been asked and whose answers will begin to form tomorrow:
- Will new Sporting Director Ernst Tanner be manager Jim Curtin’s savior, or his downfall? Tanner has provided Curtin with something Earnie Stewart never did: flexibility to change formation. This year, we’ll see what kind of manager Curtin really is. Gone are the days of being able to hide behind Stewart’s insistance on playing the 4-2-3-1 all the way from the academy to the first team. It’s no mistake that Tanner brought Jim back on a one-year deal; Curtin will either display his aptitude in adapting to situations and sides and make the best use of the shiny new pieces Tanner has provided him this offseason, or he’ll be looking for a job in 2020. There’s no in-between.
- Will the Union make use of their early home-heavy schedule? Ten of the Union’s first seventeen matches are in the cozy confines of Talen Energy Stadium. Soccer teams (and especially MLS teams) must take advantage of their home matches in order to succeed. A typical slow start by the boys in blue could spell doom; if the Union are not in at least fourth in the East at the halfway mark, expect an uphill climb to get into the playoffs.
- Will the fans in Philly be tougher on Marco Fabian than the fans in Mexico? Just kidding.
- Will Marco Fabian have the same level of success as Borek Dockal? Dockal only led the league in assists last year, but Fabian has the talent to match or surpass him. Ultimately, it may just come down to if he can stay fit. Saturday will be our first clue.
Toronto’s been on a wild ride the last two years. Two years ago, they won the treble: Canada’s domestic cup, Supporter’s Shield, and the MLS title. Last year, they missed the playoffs completely. Which TFC shows up this year? Gone is superstar Sebastian Giovinco (who had some interesting things to say on his way out), but Toronto still boasts the likes of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, along with newcomers Laurent Ciman and Terrence Boyd, and should compete in the East. It’ll be up to the U to hand them their first loss of the post-Giovinco era, and I say they do it (in a two-striker formation no less).
Prediction: Union 2 – Toronto 1