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A Philadelphia Union blog hosted by Christopher A. Vito and Matthew De George

Monday, April 2, 2012


In the sixth minute of Saturday's match, Sheanon Williams was off to the races.

He sprinted from one end of the pitch to the other, crossing midfield while possessing the ball. He covered something near 45 yards, traversing the middle of the pitch and slicing through Vancouver's defense. He did all of that, but didn't manage a shot on goal or even a pass to one of his teammates.

That show by Williams has to be regarded as a success. Here's why: With only two goals through four matches, the Union rank among Major League Soccer's least-productive clubs. So they need every bit of offense they can muster ... even if it's coming from non-scoring runs by Williams, who has 0 goals and 3 assists in parts of three seasons.

Williams, a 23-year-old right back from Boston, has been given permission by the Union's technical staff to make runs on the wing, or up the middle, to convert otherwise disregarded possessions into potential goals.

That's why Williams and left back Porfirio Lopez may start the match in a four-man backline, but guys like Keon Daniel and Brian Carroll, starting midfielders, will fill in gaps when those two make runs up the wing.

“I don't think the coaching staff has ever limited my runs or how much I get forward; they encourage it,” Williams said Saturday, following the Union's scoreless draw with Vancouver. “I want to get forward as much as possible to help out our attack. They've given me complete freedom to get forward and that's something that works for me and I like that they feel comfortable with me going forward.”

In a lineup that favors flux, Williams isn't going anywhere any time soon. He's started all but one match (March 24 at Chicago, due to a U.S. U-23 callup) since joining the Union late in 2010. So the Union will look to use that consistency to their advantage.

Even if that means allowing a defender to trigger their stale offense.

Is that a good sign for the Union's struggling offense? Leave your comments below.

NOTE: The Union will face New England a week from today, Monday, April 9, in their first Reserve League match. It'll kick off at Chester Park (708 Ridley Drive, Wallingford, Pa.) at 10 a.m.

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