I know this is a Philadelphia Union blog. Be that as it may, I am going to keep track of the MLS playoffs as they happen, beginning tonight with the 1st leg of Colorado-Columbus. We just saw Crew end Union’s season with a 3-1 loss, which completed a season sweep. Union earned a draw against Rapids at home August 14th, but had the identical 2 goals for, 5 goals against aggregate result. That’s right, Union lost to Crew 2-1 and 3-1, with the Rapids’ matches ending 1-1 and 4-1. Interesting. I think the second matchups of the season are telling. Union still had playoff hopes when Colorado demolished them by 3 goals, whereas Columbus took advantage of an aimless side. Union won their home finale against RBNY and that was good enough for them. Already eliminated, they were merely playing out the last match in Ohio’s capitol. Therefore, I give the edge to Colorado to win this matchup. I’ll be watching on ESPN2 tonight.
Union’s win against the Energy Drinks showed the final home crowd of the season that the team has come a long way since March. They struck quickly against an uninspired opponent, and played an attractive, high-pressure style of football that will be more consistent and prevalent next season. The only viewpoint that could diminish the win is that RBNY didn’t seem to care about the result of the match. They didn’t start really playing until they had conceded 2 goals, had halftime to think about it, and made a good tactical substitution. They experimented with a 4-5-1 formation and found out that Juan Pablo Angel can’t play as a lone striker. They can still clinch the Eastern Conference championship with a win this week, so their match against Union was one where they could afford to try stuff out and a loss wasn’t critical.
However, this is a Union blog, and I shall focus on the positives. The most encouraging part of Saturday afternoon did not happen on the pitch; it happened in the stands. All accounts report that the supporters’ sections for Energy Drinks and Union brought out the best in each other. They attacked each other verbally, not physically, which is the way it should be. They were loud, creative, and effective. Fan sections like those create an atmosphere unique in professional sports. There is no other sport where fans sing in unison during game play. The best part about this is that the songs are insults to the opposition half the time. The other half are pro-home team, but the insulting ones are better. Next season’s match vs. RBNY will be worth going to just to hear the back-and-forth between the supporters.
About the match, the 2 early goals showed the killer instinct that we knew the team had all along. Union’s issue during this season has been figuring each other out, reading runs, and understanding where to be to capitalize on the chances. Fred was a beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time when he scored his goal. Being in the penalty area, right in front of the goal, on a corner kick is usually a good place to troll for rebounds and second chances. Fred did well to make sure that ball found the net. The second goal was even more encouraging because it was a central defender getting on the end of Sebastien Le Toux’s cross. Michael Orozco Fiscal made a great run, and scored what would become the game-winner. MOF’s run is something that neither Danny Califf nor any of the other players who have manned the center back position would have made. It was the product of his instinct, and understanding what Seba was going to do with the play. It’s indicative of what will help this team succeed next season and beyond.
All in all for next season, I expect them to improve on their 8 wins (potentially 9 with Columbus left to play) and I certainly expect them to improve on the 14 losses. I’m interested to see how the November 24th Expansion Draft will effect Union. They could lose 2 players that day, so there may be moves required by the front office other than what they already envision doing before next spring.
-Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
Now that New England Sports Ventures has officially completed the sale to acquire Liverpool FC (we think…), I’d like to start a rumor. Liverpool, though they have a bevy of accomplished footballers, they are near the very bottom of the Premiership table. No team with the likes of Steven Gerard, Fernando Torres, and Dirk Kuyt should be in the relegation zone. So, what are these new American owners going to do to remedy this situation and return their new toy to glory??? Bring in American talent.
Landon Donovan had an excellent run with Everton last season. He spurred the club on to its best stretch of the season, making a midling squad nearly unbeatable at home. I would not be surprised if one of Landon’s first transfer requests, after LA Galaxy get done choking away the MLS title again, is from NESV, inquiring about whether he’d like to play along side of England’s captain.
There’s no foundation to this, whatsoever. I think it would be hilarious to see how much better the existing Liverpool players would play if they thought their job was in jeopardy to an American, even if it is Landon Donovan. To make things even better to that extent, they should float it out there that they’d like to keep Donovan’s partnership with Edson Buddle going. And then, for additional tabloid fodder, they’ll site Buddle’s goal against Union as a reason to bring David Beckham back to England. And to think, if Becks returns, he’d be in the Premier League what Kyle Nakazawa is in MLS currently. Eeek.
-Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
Details: Saturday, October 16th, 6pm. TV-it doesn’t matter, you’re probably gonna watch the Flyers leading up to the Phillies game anyway, but it’s on FSC
Normally, I would sell you on the idea that Union should be building a rivalry with the team from New York, the same way that the Phillies and Mets, Flyers and Rangers, Eagles and Giants, and the Sixers and Knicks have or have had in the past. With NY being atop the Eastern Conference standings (4th overall in MLS) and Union 3rd-worst in the league, this match holds little intrigue.
But we soldier on. What promised to be a Monster of a matchup between Frenchmen Sebastien Le Toux and Thierry Henry will likely not come to be, with Henry ailing from this week, and the match means very little to them. It would have been nice to see Seba show up his countryman, with his Battery that runs with 5 Hour Energy for a full 90 minutes. It may have been enough to Jolt the football Rock Star into better form, which he has only shown glimpses of since coming to MLS. It is, however, just one of the storylines to follow even though Union can’t Vault New York in the standings.
It is Union’s final home game of the season, and much appreciation will be showered on the supporters from players, and organization, alike. It will be one last time to give the folks a look in-person at what will be built upon for next season. I’m looking forward to seeing the full starting XI, the best mix of youth and veteran leadership. I want to see how well the tandem of Danny Califf and Michael Orozco Fiscal play against another playoff team. MOF has energy to Burn, and seems to Crave control of the central defense, and Cap’n Ink plays well off of him. This makes for a great foundation for next season’s playoff run. I’m also AMP‘ed to see Danny Mwanga make one last final pitch for Rookie of the Year honors. He made his charge earlier in season with Boo Koo publicity for his goals, but as he has cooled, so have his chances to win. He has two matches to show that he’s a talented, goal-scoring Hustler, who can Go Fast and Rip It.
Though this is how the home season will Exit, Union have pledged to do it at Full Throttle. The way they play at home is a 180 from how they play on the road, so hopefully that is a reason to think they can earn a result against the Energy Drinks.
Various things come into play when blogging a fan site blog that prevent actual blogging.
1) Work – In the first 2 weeks of every month both I and Nick are bogged down with work. Sometimes we barely find the time to make Demolition Man references, yet alone remember we have a blog to uphold.
2) Outside work – Nick’s a frequent bowler and quizo-er, and I’m a frequent slacker (and have a netflix queue out the wazoo) so going on the internet outside of work becomes less likely unless we are sitting down to watch the game, on the internet, because local broadcasting sucks…
I mean, 6-ABC, please do something about broadcasting and availability to all, rather than on an HD channel very few people receive.
3) Life as we know it – well, the Phils are in the playoffs, it’s Phillies Phever, and it’s almost next to a given that we forget about our lesser teams (we have a basketball team?) and overlook the good, but unsuccessful teams, such as the union. Granted there’s only two games left, one game at home (NYenergyDrinks) and one game away (columbus crew…bah) there’s only one game we care about there (I’ll give you 3 guesses) and then we sadly watch to see who continues on and becomes champion of the MLS.
4) There’s a week and a half in between the most recent matchups (last match was Oct 7, next match is Saturday)
5) … Yea, Phillies…
With a lot going on personally, professionally, and mainstream sports wise, it’s easy to lose track of the hobby created out of something we love, soccer – even for 2 different people running the blog.
We promise that we will end these final 2 weeks of Philadelphia MLS inaugural season soccer strong, and only fade away while watching Premier League soccer during the offseason… But by God, we’ll come back with a vengence next season (and actually do the entire season, rather than starting half way through haphazardly).
Shortly followed by a NY Energy Drink preview matchup featuring the Hand of Gaul.
During the recaps, of the week, they showed Buddle’s 15th goal earlier this week. Now you’re just bragging.
I have 2 cats now (it’s Dan streaming this, not nick) but they’ve been hiding all night… probably a bad sign.
46 – missed some action but come back to Mapp chasing a ball out the goal line… I can assume the rest beforehand.
46 – announcers giving credit to Moreno… yea, we do love the guy, and he’s around the ball enough (as much as he’s on the ground) but don’t give him that much credit.
47 – Some air battle, clears by LA into our end, matched by clears out, rinse, and repeat…
47 – Donovan gets the ball and crosses into the box…Harvey dive heads it back to Knighton. Crisis averted
48 – Announcers comment on how Donovan is probably tired… i think his hairline is.
49 – OOOOoo.. Ball comes to Mapp, and he drills a half cross, half shot at goal from distance and is just wide and high of the corner. Out for a goal kick.
49 – Le toux touches to mapp who is forced to pass early to Le toux which is intercepted.
50 – Mwanga to mapp who plays into the middle and tries to get into the box “on his favored left foot” but nothing comes of it…
50 – Le Toux signals the out of bonds by LA and it’s given, throw in PU…. results in nothing but Donovan touching it…
51 – Califf with a BEAUTIFUL standing tackle resulting in another attempt at playmaking… ball gets settled…
52 – Williams crosses it in…but FedEx’s it at Rickets, LA ball.
53 – Mapp to Le Toux, who does what he’s good at, makes signals to Mwanga and plays it to him, who plays it to Nukes who tries a long shot but gets deflected by LA D… Cleared and back to us.
54 – Mwanga is 2 goals short of most goals scored by a teenager (shit, he’s younger than me..oh yea..) which the record is held by Altidore.
54 – Why isn’t Le Toux our captain, he’s in on every play, offense or defense, he’s obviously the heart of the team.
55 – I think i saw someone i know in the river end video shot…
55 – Birchell makes a play to Franklin who makes a run..with a diversion by Donovan to draw a defender away. Franklin makes a shot but goes wide.
56 – Donovan caught offsides. He’s making sure that people realize he’s on the field and no longer in Everton.
57 – For those who don’t know, that’s a British soccer team…look it up.
57 – USWNT for soccer is in attendance at PPL…
57 – Mapp makes a cross into Mwanga in the box, but the header is weak and wide.
58 – Buddle looks like one of those statues on Easter Island………
58 – Mwanga settles it to a Mapp break down the side line…. crosses to Le toux in the box but overuns the ball and can’t keep control. LA plays damage control and clears.
59 – Mwanga tries to give Le Toux a break…but is 10 yards to far and wide…goes to our resident pot head… i mean Rickets (GK LA)
60 – Another attack gets broken down by LA. Results in a steal and a counter, which is then broken down again.
60 – Beckham has room..as in he reserved 2 suites, 1 penthouse, and the whole art museum, and runs down the sideline and crosses the Buddle, but buddle had to run backwards a bit to head it, and heads it wide.
61 – Mwanga to Mapp outside the box, holds it, plays it to eventually jacobson, and the play gets too confuddled and is cleared… throw in PU
62 – Williams low crosses and CALIFF almost has it, but gets deflected out, throw in PU.
62 – Result of long throw – nada.
62 – Result of XX – 3 bottles down…i need a 4th…
63 – Le Toux down the side, plays into the middle and tries to get it to a covered Mwanga, which then gets tapped out and Le Toux tries to recover it… gets cleared back.
63 – Williams with a run and an attempt, dribbles it way too far and runs into a defender crossing his path in front of him, no foul on either, ball goes out for a goal kick.
64 – Who has a dime bag at PPL, send it Rickets’ way.
64 – Nukes to Mwanga, once again too far ahead.
64 – An apparent hold on Donovan by Fiscal, Donovan embellished a bit, but Fiscal gets away with it thanks to the play being like…10 seconds longer than the foul…
65 – another cross too high and far.
66 – Fred received stitches… updates of “no shits” to keep coming as more information is obtained by the announcers.
66 – Ball out for goal kick, beer out of fridge.
67 – Cross into buddle, but a little too far.. Knighton makes an early decision to play the ball and picks up the cross before any danger can happen.
68 – A cat came out from hiding…but goes to food… what does this mean?
68 – Le Toux is doing his rendition of the running man, where the ball is..here will be there. Playmaker at his best… but chasing the game doesn’t win you games.
70 – Gonzalez plays out a long through ball for PU throw in deep in LA.
70 – Donovan takes the throw in and gets cleared out by PU, LA ball….
71 – LA throw in deep by PU corner.
72 – Nukes to Jacobson down the side, back to Le Toux who drives a cross to mapp..too hard and too high, throw in LA.
72 – Cat ran away.
73 – stupid cat…
73 – Le Toux cuts it to Mwanga, to an open Jacobson who brings it into the box and plays to Le toux, who back heels it behind him… Rickets saves it, barely… Goal of the week play. PU corner.
74 – Salinas in for… ? no clue.
74 – Corner gets cleared.
74 – Salinas in for Jacobson… i like salinas being in, but Jacobson has been a decent playmaker, or at least in the combination of it..
75 – Mapp gets it to Le Toux in the box who has to fight to pass it to Salinas on the side, who side shoots it, but gets cleared out the side. Damn.
76 – No subs for LA yet…
76 – Kirovski in for Beckham. And a shot of the river end shows booing, and a middle finger.
77 – Some nice footwork and play by buddle who gives a pass to Kirovsky who drills it wide left.
78 – Donovan on a break, flag is down!!! Knighton comes out and plays and stops the shot. Phew.
78 – Stevens (LA) gets a Yellow. ( i missed it)
80 – Donovan has a break, which is again offsides.
80 – Mwanga had a break and broke through the defender picking up speed but was called out of bounds…. right…
82 – Kirovski clears the ball and gives us a corner kick. Mapp…mapp..mapp…
82 – Mapp to Califf, who heads it over the bar.
83 – Torres in for Mapp… boooo…
84 – Buddle tries to make a play against 3 defenders, gets cleared out the side, LA throw in.
84 – They’re stalling for time…. and the crowd boos..
85 – ball to Donovan who could have made a play, but Knighton comes out and breaks it up, dangerously, PU clear.
86 -Salinas cuts in outside the box and crosses… to noone.. if he was out 15 yards it would work.
86 – Jordan in for Juninho… i believe that’s all subs for union, and 2 for LA (?)
87 – Williams used to be a striker…interesting.
88 – Buddle again tring to play against 3 defenders down the sideline and gets manhandled. As he should be.
88 – How does a frenchmen survive around chester? Really?
89 – Oooooooooo… Kirovski with a dangerous challenge against migs when he was playing the ball… Cleat into shin. Draws the yellow on himself. 2 yellows on LA. None on us…things have changed.
90 – 3 minutes added.
90 – Ball into box, Rickets bobbles it and Califf tries to play, but everything accidental and a foul called on Califf… ? right…shrug.
91 – Ball to Salinas on the side who takes a chance but is high and wide on the one touch off the bounce.
92 – Magee in for Stevens, all subs are now used for LA and PU. Note to PU, go for the knees.
93 – Williams to Torres who floats it in but LA steals it… Gets it out to buddle who is trying to make another break through a body, but gets called for a foul for knocking down harvey.
93 – Torress leads to Salinas, who BARELY crosses it in before the goal line, gets played out for a corner………
93 – Corner goes in, headed out by salinas…. Game is called.
Result – LA 1 – PU – 0
27′ Edson Buddle off corner assist from David Beckham.
Starting XI for tonight’s 8:00pm match vs LA (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes): Brad Knighton; Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Jordan Harvey; Justin Mapp, Andrew Jacobson, Stefani Miglioranzi, Fred; Danny Mwanga, Sebastien Le Toux
Well, one of two things came up in the lineup, Mwanga is backing up (or the 2nd striker) Le Toux. The only thing is the Salinas isn’t in the starting line up, most likely he’ll be a 2nd half substitution.
A nice chill in the air tonight as we await kickoff. Hopefully the cold air will have an effect on the LA team… even though Beckham has dealt with worse (he’s from england you know). Note: I will probably be saying bloody a lot, and random other quips of British slang… speaking of which, i quit smoking fags… take that as you will.
The game is sold out, ESPN3 is on, and my 2nd bottle of Dos Equis is opened… Stay thirsty this Thursday, my friends.
-3? – They just had a shot of about 20 teenage girls in the front row eyeing beckham…that’s fairly disheartening. And when i say teenage, I mean like 13.
-3 – Stream keeps stalling… wtf did my girlfriend do to my internet.
-2 – Beckham went to the Phillies game last night, that was pretty cool and decent of him. I guess he’s a nice guy… But who knows, he did marry a Spice girl… guy got talent, but probably not taste.
0- and we’re off
1 – Come on the U! Naturally, ok, i’ll be unbiased from here forth (til goals).
1 – Mapp throw in to Mwanga, who loses it to a clear, another throw in.
2 – Donovan to Buddle, almost had a break but a battle ensues and the ball goes out. PU throw in.
2 – Clear to Le Toux, weak clear past Mwanga back straight to Fred, through balls it to Mwanga, but goes too far ahead of him, keeper cleared.
3 – Junhinho with a hand ball… sp? Le Toux set piece.
3 – Le Toux goes for goal! He bent it like Beckham and goalie makes a nice save to a corner.
4 – Mapp corners it right to Migs foot in the middle of the crowd, Mig wasn’t ready, gets cleared and position battle ensues.
4 – Buddle almost with a break, but is offside, along with a slight knock down foul.
4 – Note- beckham got booed… fame only goes so far in this town of ours.
5 – Damn, these defenders are clearing the ball INTO union players at point blank range… This is the LA Riot Squad… trying to snipe us out.
6 – Donovan is offsides… I would be upset, but this aint a US game… I love his breaks, but I’m afraid tonight.
7 – Rickets drop kicks it from box to box, Knighton picks it up and rolls it to a defender.
7 – Announcers are saying Gonzalez seems nervous… shrug
8 – LA has some brilliant foot play, but seem a little chaotic with passing.
9 – Jacobson with another throughball to mwanga that goes too far and Mwanga is beat by a defender… we almost have a pattern down. Throw in PU.
9 – Williams long throw, gets headed out poorly for a corner.
10 – Mapp corner gets weirdly hit into goal, out for a throw in PU.
10 – Long throw in but goes into keepers hands.
11 – An attack cross that gets deflected into Knighton’s hands.
12 – Ball goes too far for Le Toux, who contacts the goalies shins with a karate kick…. hurts Rickets.
12 – THERE WILL BE BLOOD! Fred has a gash… Need to wait for a replay, seems like head to head. Seems like Juninho is the culprit…
OUCH! Right elbow as Juninho won the head battle, because of that… Gash over Fred’s left eye… Off the field for now.
13 – Le Toux tries to play man of the match and loses the ball mid LA field.
14 – Fred’s moving to the lockerroom… seems like he’s done for the day…. And sounds like Nakazawa will be the sub.
14 – While writing all that, nothing has happened… except for Fred leaving. Now there’s a sub… Fred is not happy though.
15 – Nakazawi. We have 2 great set kickers now, and Le Toux (good at set piece, not at corners)
15 – Le Toux almost played his way through the defenders but again loses the build up of the play.
16 – Jacobson with some great footwork and draws a foul about 30 yards out. Nakazawa free kick.
16 – Low kick, gets cleared back to Union defenders, played back to Knighton.
17 – At this point I’m afraid LA is just trying to tire us out…
17 – Le Toux to Mwanga, who almost loses it, gets the ball back but then again, LA clears it against Mwanga and gets a throw in.
18 – Fiscal to Harvey, to Mig, to Mapp, to Califf, to Harvey….
18 – Jacobson to Le Toux, Le Toux to Mwanga in the BOX POINT BLANK!!!….high and wide? Deflected off LA. Throw in.
20 – Lot of possession play going on, some build ups resorting to nothing much.
20 – Ball finally gets into the Union box as a threat and settles in the middle but is quickly cleared before Beckham or Donovan or Buddle can get near the ball.
21 – I do believe i heard clear as day an F bomb from a player.
21 – Williams down the sideline and plays a low cross that gets stopped dead. Seriously, what is with our team and low crosses…use your heads!
22 – Jacobson sends it into threat area again, too far and too soon as is the norm and Rickets clears the ball easy.
23 – Rickets came out FAR outside the box to clear the ball out of the sideline.. We can’t capitalize on the time for him to get back to goal, we play possession set up.
23 – Nakazawa plays the ball to Migs, but goes out too far ahead. Nice break down the sideline too, but LA throw in.
24 – I’m gonna call nakazawa “Nukes” from now on for a short name… quicker to type.
24 – Nukes to mapp, to nukes, to williams, who draws the foul…barely? Set piece!
25 – Mapp mapp mapp mapp mapp… free kick. Lines up with Nukes… who takes it but gets cleared by LA. Goes straight back to williams who crosses it too far ahead… Ends up PU throw in.
26 – Nothing…
26 – Some more throw ins for LA in our half of the pitch.
27 – Birchell gets a break down the line and low crosses it in front of goal, but gets cleared out for a corner..Beckham to take.
27 – Buddle…off Beckham… goal… naturally… His 16th… congrats (unenthusiastic “yaaaaaay”) Happened so fast and unenthusiastic from the crowd it’s like it didn’t happen… And Knighton didn’t move… really like it didn’t happen. Did anyone move? At all? On either side?
28 – Offsides called on Union break..on mwanga. Damn.
28 – That unbiasedness i talked about…
29 – Califf is making friends with Buddle apparently… not in the nice way.
30 – Birchell crosses wildly to noone and crosses the field out of bounds.
31 – Another bloody LA throw in.
31 – Now Williams is making friends with Buddle. The ref mediates. Makes them share toys.
31 – cross deflected out for an LA corner… Beckham, again, to take. And the boos rain down.
32 – Cleared out not far enough, tapped back in but cleared to midfield… and now it’s keep the ball in the air time. Beckham settles it near the corner and weirdly crosses it into the box, gets cleared out (thank god).
33 – Union play out from the momentum, and LA is playing rough with us…2 blatant fouls, 1 off the ball, and the other a possible challenge… neither are called?
33 – Buddle is offsides, which gives a nice stop to the momentum and anxiety that built up in the past 2 minutes.
34 – Rickets is Jamaican… Eh Mon!
35 – Really, the most exciting thing about this game is that you can hear the SOB’s clear as day on ESPN broadcast.
36 – Union ball played in behind the LA D… to noone.. as the announcers are commenting on how either Mwanga or Le Toux need to stay up top and be patient. Don’t be the playmakers… be the day makers.
36 – Break that Mwanga FINALLY gets to, but is still neck and neck with an LA defender in the box.. Gonzalez clears out for a corner.
37 – 3rd corner… mapp..mapp.. Cleared out.
37 – From playing Fifa games, i can see about 10 different breaks during this play that the Union could utilize and break through the LA defense while passing.. that’s sad.
38 – Nukes called for a foul (? ) LA ball.
38 – I dont know what just happened……. but LA should have had a goal, and there was an argue for hand ball. Nice save by Knighton, and nice clear too (about 3 rebounds)…. Birchell is dangerous with low crosses… I will say it now, scary-good.
40 – Unioin should only give and go pass, when someone is actually “going”.
40 – Everyone gets a touch on the Philadelphia Union… now enough of that..goal time…
43 – I’ve seen Donovan twice in close up, and only heard his name twice… not much of an impact player this game…
44 – Migs breaks away and gets the ball out for Le Toux to chase…. but there’s an offsides flag. time to regroup.
44 – Stevens gets the ball into the box, but LA mishandles and Knightong scoops it up.
45 – Third time hearing Donovan, knocks down Fiscal and gets a foul and verbal warning.
45 – 1 minute added… i hate MLS…
45 + – and nothing happens… whistle is blown.
Buddle, Birchell, and Beckham…. alliteration is key. Their the players for the first half of the game. Mwanga, Le Toux, Mapp, and Migs (close…) for our side, but really not as effective. I’m impressed at our ball control and attempts against the Galaxy, but as is the norm from earlier in the season saddened at the lack of effeciency we have. Let’s see how the 2nd half comes, especially since we wasted an early sub.
Details: 8pm, PPL Park in Chester, PA, televised on ESPN2 (thank you!!!)
As you may have heard, there’s this British fellow plying his trade in the city of angels, David Beckham is his name. The media covering this match, and the league in general, would almost have everyone believe that he is the only player on the team anyone has ever heard of. But he’s not even the best or most significant player on his team. This team is laden with stars, which makes it really exciting for a young team like Union, and the fanbase. The United States’ best player, Landon Donovan, and Major League Soccer’s front-runner for the golden boot (top goal scorer) Edson Buddle, are the main parts of the league’s best team. The Beckhams even have last year’s rookie of the year, Omar Gonzalez. It comes as no surprise that they own the league’s best record and are in the mode where they are worried purely about playoff positioning.
What Union lack in talent against the Beckhams, they will make up for grit and determination. They have more to play for in the sense that some of Union’s players will be unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft. The team has been built on youth, with the goal set for future development over first-year results. However, Coach Nowak has seen plenty out of his players since the season’s inception, and these final 3 matches serve as a final audition for some players who may be on the fringe. Of course, there is the possibility that Union lose no one in the expansion draft, but with 2 teams entering the league next year, that scenario seems unlikely.
As for the actual match, Alejandro Moreno is away playing for the Venezuelan National Team (this is good for Union), and there wasn’t any injury list available to me at the time I typed this, so I guess everyone else is available. START SHEA SALINAS!!! With Moreno out, Le Toux should be up top with Mwanga or McInerney, and they need Mapp, Miglioranzi Torres, and Salinas in the midfield. This probably won’t happen because Nowak seems to like 2 defensive middies in the lineup, but I want more speed, so Shea Salinas should be in there. Or at least a 2nd half sub. Something. Anything. Please, and thank you.
The match is sold out, so I’m hoping that The Beckhams will be motivated to still play hard and give Union a good contest. I am really interested in seeing what progress, if any, Union have made since they dropped a 3-1 result to them out in Los Angeles. I don’t want it to be one of those “well, Union played against reserves” kind of deals. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Kyle Nakazawa get a start in this game, just for the interesting matchup against Beckham, comparing free kicks. Regardless of how it plays out, I’m thrilled that this match is on ESPN2, where I can watch it on TV instead of streaming online feed. Enjoy!