Union, FC Dallas seek to improve on 2019's finish

ByReuters ESPN logo
Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Philadelphia Union will be looking to build on last season's momentum when they visit FC Dallas in the Major League Soccer opener for both clubs on Saturday.

In 2019, the Union won their first-ever playoff game following a 16-11-7 regular season.

Despite the success, the Union revamped their roster in the offseason as key players such as defender Auston Trusty and midfielder Haris Medunjanin were not brought back.

The Union will be counting on goalkeeper Andre Blake along with Kacper Przybylko, Kai Wagner, Jamiro Monteiro and captain Alejandro Bedoya to provide offense and leadership.

"My first goal is to make the playoffs because once you make it then anything can happen," Bedoya said. "A lot of people didn't think we could do much last season and others will probably think that this season, too. We just have to control what we can control and believe in ourselves. We're going to match every team's intensity and if we do that on a consistent basis, then we can pull off any result."

On Friday, the Union announced that they had extended the contract of Przybylko, their 26-year-old striker, through the 2023 season.

"Kacper's impact on our team was decisive in our run to the playoffs last season," Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a statement of Przybylko, who had a team-leading 15 goals and four assists in 2019. "He was among the most effective attackers in our league and combines size, skill, and tenacity in a unique way that makes him a great fit for our playing style. This contract extension reflects our belief in him and we are happy to ensure he continues to wear the Union badge."

Like the Union, FC Dallas also advanced to the playoffs following a 13-12-9 regular season to finish in seventh place in the Western Conference.

FC Dallas fell 4-3 in extra time in the opening round to Seattle Sounders FC, which went on to win MLS Cup.

In 2020, FC Dallas will likely be competitive once again with a young group anchored by 19-year-old Jesus Ferreira and Michael Barrios, who had five goals and a club-best 15 assists last season.

One intriguing subplot to watch for is FC Dallas' Fafa Picault facing his former team for the first time.

Defensively, FC Dallas will be led by right back Reggie Cannon, who could be headed for the United States Men's National Team in the near future.

"We're very excited," FC Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez said. "This is what the boys train for -- the opportunity to play in front of our fans. We've learned a lot about the group. The personnel has been there for each other and now this is when it counts."

--Field Level Media