Philadelphia Union find Nogueira replacement in Roland Alberg

After a hat trick performance vs. the Chicago Fire on Wednesday, Roland Alberg could be set to replace Vincent Nogueira who recently left the Union.

After losing to NYCFC at Yankee Stadium (NYCFC’s inability to play well at home makes it a worse loss) on Saturday, the Philadelphia Union were in need of a bounce back win on Wednesday night at home vs. the Chicago Fire. Roland Alberg was happy to do his part in making that a reality.

It only took Alberg 56 minutes to complete a hat trick from his midfield position, and if the first Union goal, which he shot, wasn’t counted as an own goal (it hit a fire defender after a pretty save by goalkeeper Sean Johnson) he would’ve had it wrapped up in the first half.

The 4-3 win was big for the Union not only because it showed some resilience after a bad defeat vs. NYCFC and made sure they didn’t start off after the Copa America break with back to back losses, but the outstanding showing from Alberg also gives them a clear choice for the Vincent Nogueira-sized hole in the midfield.

Nogueira, who was a staple of the Union midfield for the past 2 seasons, left the team during the Copa break because of some personal health issues, and myself and everyone at Playingfor90 wish him the best of luck. While the loss of Nogueira is certainly tough for the Union, they must move forward and try to keep up this incredible start they have had to the season.

Nogueira was a big part of this Union midfield, starting 8 of the first 14 games for them. He was a box to box guy who had incredible vision and the ability to pass well. He created chances and helped defensively.

Vincent Nogueira, who Alberg hopes to replace

Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Albert tonight made a strong case on why he should be considered to replace Nogueira in the midfield. Union coach Jim Curtain sees Alberg as more of a play making midfielder than a box-to-box guy like Nogueira, but his complete performance tonight may speak otherwise.

Of course he showed his offensive ability extremely well tonight, scoring 3 goals and being directly responsible for 4 (own goal was after a save from a Alberg shot deflected off a fire defender), but he also made important clearances in his own box.

While defense may not be the first thing you think of when you think Alberg, he proved that when put in the position, he had what it takes to take on a more defensive role. These key defensive plays are even more important when you consider the game ended with a one goal difference (4-3). If he misses one of those plays Union might have dropped 2 points at home to the bottom team in the league.

I usually don’t like it when people overreact to a single-game performance (i.e USAvARG) but the story almost writes itself here. The Philadelphia Union, who finished ninth in the eastern conference last year, go into the Copa America break in first place. Then, one of their key central players is lost, and in the second game after the break a possible replacement scores a hat trick and provides critical defensive assistance.

The replacement also does not have to be a like for like, and Alberg could easily take over the 10 spot from Tranquila Barnetta and have him move into a more holding 8 spot (though he didn’t seem quite bothered to defend tonight).

Even if Barnetta doesn’t excel right now at the holding midfield position, Maurice Edu should be back within the month and he could takeover that spot from Barnetta.

Curtain will have a lot on his plate in the next month or so to decide on his best starting XI sans Nogueira going forward, but I certainly think Alberg made a strong case to be in any discussion.