The Union’s preseason has been off to an up and down start so far, but as a whole it’s been full of growth and change. The team is really trying to hone its identity before the regular season begins next month. They fell to the NASL’s Jacksonville Armada and Tampa Bay Rowdies to open preseason, but recently have found their stride. They notched a 3-0 victory over Costa Rica’s U-23 team last Wednesday before downing London United 6-0 in a friendly on Saturday. Several roster shake-ups have been made including a key injury. Here’s three things you should know about the Union’s preseason so far.
1. Fernando Aristeguieta leads striker race
To start training camp, talks of either C.J. Sapong or Conor Casey filling the role of the Union’s central striker up top seemed to be the team’s offensive plan of action. That was until the team signed striker Fernando Aristeguieta on loan from FC Nantes of France’s Ligue 1 on Friday.
In just his first match with the team on Saturday, he notched two goals and ran very well in the flow of the offense. He made crisp passes and often found himself in the perfect position for the receiving end of crosses. It looked like he’d been working with the team all offseason. He’ll make Jim Curtin’s allotment of minutes even more confusing for the upcoming season, with plenty of forwards at his disposal.
2. Steven Vitoria adds to the Union defense
When the Union loaned defender Carlos Valdes to Nacional of Uruguay for the entirety of the 2015 season, the team didn’t waste any time finding the next center back to take his place. They signed defender Steven Vitoria on loan from Benfica of Portugal’s Primeira Ligato shore up the team’s back line.
The 6-foot-5 center back has spent his entire professional career playing in Portugal. He represented Portugal at the youth level at the 2006 UEFA U19s Championship and at the 2007 FIFA U20s World Cup.
3. Andre Blake undergoes knee surgery
Letting in three goals with only two saves in a 3-1 loss to the Jacksonville Armada was not the type of start to the 2015 season that fans were expecting from first overall pick in the 2014 SuperDraft, Andre Blake. Things have only gotten worse for Blake, who underwenta successful partial menisectomy on his left knee Monday.
Blake started in just one game for the Union last season, where he notched seven saves in a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo. Fans will have to wait even longer for the UConn product to make an impact for the team. His injury is expected to keep him out of action for four-to-six weeks. In the interim, the Union signed local product John McCarthy, of North Catholic and La Salle, to take his place.