Friday, July 29, 7:30pm, PPL Park, Chester, PA (Fox Soccer Channel)
Now that all of this “Let’s put together a collection of MLS players to be massacred by Manchester United” nonsense is over with, let’s move on to the unofficial 2nd half of the season. Union host defending league champ Colorado Rapids in the unusual Friday match. Being that this match happens just 2 days after the “All-Star Game” (It’s a shame that the people who vote for the players don’t actually watch the games, apparently. How the right side of the Union defense was not there is beyond….everyone), I wonder how in-form Faryd Mondragon will be. Granted, he only played in the first half of the match, and it was only in northern New Jersey, but Dragon usually poses with half of the other team to take pictures with his kids, and then gives the media comprehensive interviews, et cetera. There’s a chance that after the photo opportunities and jersey-trading, he didn’t leave Pink Cow Arena until 5am this morning.
For Colorado, Omar Cummings is the one attacking player I fear. I refer to him as “scary-good” for a reason. He played in the “All-Star Game” so I hope he is tuckered out from it. Unless he spent the match standing around studying Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant. In any event, I hope Omar is a bit off of his game. Especially since Rapids are already down Connor Casey who blew out his achilles’ tendon and is done for the year. We here at Unholy Union Blog wish him well and a complete recovery, so that Union can be responsible for kicking his ass next year. Speaking of injuries, the assailant in the gruesome Steve Zakuani leg-breaking is back. Brian Mullan has returned from suspension, having played 85 minutes against New England. If poetic justice truly existed, Casey’s injury would have happened to Mullan instead, but I digress. The other player to look for is Sanna Nyassi, who scored a hat trick against NY (and we thank him for that) 2 matches back. It’s likely that he’ll be up top with Cummings again, in an effort to score against a Union defense that’s better than what Manchester United saw Wednesday night (again HOW IN THE HELL COULD YOU CALL THAT GROUP “ALL-STARS”?????????).
Union are coming off of 2 impressive performances in friendlies against Everton and Real Madrid. There are plenty of positives to be taken out of those matches, as well as some things that need to be ignored. The win against Everton was good, however it must be tempered by the fact that Everton didn’t really care to win that game anyway. They would have been just fine with spending that evening at Harrah’s instead of putting on a good show for our fans. Roger Torres was the star of the game…. where noone attempted to put hard tackles in on him. He played great, in both games, but they’re meaningless friendlies, so no hard tackles to be adminstered means he left his jittery feet at home. They (and by they I mean Carlos Valdes) also learned that sometimes the simple play is the correct play. He whiffed twice on Saturday against Real and it lead to 2 goals. The first was him trying to trap the ball with his raised leg and missing it, the other was opting not to simply play the ball over the touchline but rather faking his opponent out to keep the ball in play. It serves as a reminder to all: make the simple play. Union are not Real Madrid, they are not fancy and electric on the ball. They are a workman-like team that is based on defensive strength.
The lineup I expect will have at least 1 Farfan in it. Ok, that’s a very simple statement to make, since one, Gabe, is the de facto left fullback, but his brother, Mike, acquitted himself nicely against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Traveling Circus, and may be in line for more minutes. At the expense of whom, you might ask? Kyle Nakazawa. Alzheimer’s patients look less lost than Naka did against Real Madrid. It’s no shame to get outplayed by a team I consider to be top-5 in the world. But his obvious lack of ability to find the game in any way was very disappointing. And in twisted Peter Nowak logic, that means Naka will probably start, because, Nowak fills out the lineup card and I don’t. We will see Carlos Ruiz, Danny Mwanga, and Sebastien Le Toux. We’ll also see Brian Carroll, and our normal back 5. Justin Mapp will go back to left wing, ho hum.
What I also expect to see is a 2-1 win for Union. This is the time of the season when 3 points are needed from home matches. This team has gelled well over the course of the season, and I believe these international friendlies have forced them to play more cohesively than any league match has. I’d like for Union to earn a clean sheet, but I fear Colorado’s attack too much to assume a shutout.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
Have you ever supported a team prior to the Philadelphia Union? If they were your favorite club, and the Union just so happened to play them at any point – be it tournament or friendly – who would you root for. Please leave comments as to what team, and any further explanation as to why you chose the answer you chose.
A much heated debate has broken out about team affiliation, and we want more opinions!
I believe that anyone who went to the match VERSUS Real Madrid on Saturday all has had an experience with this – Local people wearing Real Madrid jerseys. You would have noticed a number 7 on the back, most likely. The typical wearer would also be female, white, and from West Chester. Yes, I am stereotyping.
Let me get this off my chest – If you are from Philadelphia, or the surrounding areas – born here and not a first generation born of parents from a foreign country (most likely spain, maybe portugal, mexico however has no excuse) YOU ARE MORONIC FOR ROOTING FOR REAL MADRID!
I get the point of these friendlies – advertising the lesser league with the big marquee money maker. I wouldn’t have much of an issue if Ronaldo, their “star” wasn’t so much a fashionista than a soccer player. BUT, a huge one, if you are from Philadelphia and do not support the local team – there is no excuse.
This goes along the lines in all sports. I understand that maybe you live here, but you were originally from New York or Arizona and don’t support any Philadelphia teams. That’s understood. If I moved I would expect my children to root for the local team even though I would always be rooting for Philadelphia, it’s a common concept. If you are American and from DC or New York and came to see the game, I have no issue with you. It’s everyone from here that I have the issue with. If you consider yourself a Philadelphian (suburbanite included) through and through, then why were you not rooting for the Union on Saturday. Why were you doing the wave? You did realize that was in support of Real, right? It’s not a soccer thing (here), right? It’s also bloody stupid anymore.
Now to my actual reaction to the game – it was fun. I enjoyed it (minus not truely being able to heckle thanks to the 5 teenage girls who were ronaldo’s fan club in the section). We sat above and to the left of the Supporters End, and it was marvelous seeing from that angle. You could see the entire crowd, and to be honest, it was sickening when I saw 90% of the crowd rooting for “Madri” at one point… but the overwhelming outnumbered support had no hampering on the game or the stands from what I could tell.
It was a friendly, it was meant as fun. And, it was even better because it was a GOOD game. Both teams had plenty of shots, possession, and attacking. We understand Real wasn’t trying necessarily too hard, either because of the heat, a friendly, or cause they were dogging it (really, they didn’t play up to full par and could still probably massacre us) but it made it enjoyable. If there were any fights, it’s because someone needs to not watch green street hooligans, or needs to lay off the booze. – i was just notified of a big fight after the match which I apparently walked past after the fact, it wasn’t as big as it was made out to be, but consisted of people in phillies gear – so to my point, lay off the booze. But I think overall the fans were there just to see one of the best teams in the world play our local team. And in that, I think no one left feeling unsatisfied, and that we all had a good time.
Back to my original commentary – if this was a game that mattered, say the Champions League, and the Linc was that overwhelmed with away support, there is seriously something very wrong with your mindset…
But I know that there are many converts, or at least people now interested to see the Union, and in that, it was a success.
The way that I sum up Sunday’s performance against Revolution is that this is EXACTLY what should have happened. No more scoreless draws at home, THIS is what you do to a bad team who is also missing their best player. Union dominated possession and had all of the threatening chances in the match. They made the Revs look like the only reason they were on the field was because the MLS schedule told them they had to be there. From New England’s perspective, the smartest people on their side were the member of the supporters’ group, “The Fort,” who staged a walkout in the 17th minute in protest of their team’s front office. Those lucky people saw their side down only a single goal, and as the rest of us who watched the whole match know, it only got worse for NE from there.
I didn’t bother submitting grades for this match because that would be giving them credit for something they were supposed to do. I would have high praise for them winning 5-0, but seeing how they really won 2-0, adding a breakaway in the waning seconds, they deserve just standard compliments. A similar performance in their next league match on Friday, July 29, against defending MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids would carry far more weight.
As to these friendlies Union will be playing in the interim, I am a fan of the team doing this. My theory in sports is that you only get better by playing better players. These matches against Everton and Real Madrid are excellent opportunities to learn something from a collection of the best players in the world. I’m looking forward to seeing how Sheanon Williams and Carlos Valdes handle the likes of Leighton Baines and Tim Cahill. I’m also curious to see if playing in a no-pressure environment can get Sebastien Le Toux to score a goal, though dealing with Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga could prove to be too much for him anyway. If nothing else, it will be a fantastic way for Union to view first-hand how a top-level club organizes itself and works to break down a defense.
The point that I hope Union take away from this match, and the match against Real Madrid on Saturday, is at least one technique or philosophy that they can incorporate into themselves to improve both individually and as a team. I know Everton is in preseason and this is just a money-grab for the club, but there’s no way that they want to lose to an American club team. They will play hard to prove their season readiness to manager David Moyes. Union should take this both as a challenge, and a bonding experience, to take down a team playing in the highest level of English Football. One thing I will be looking for is maybe Sheanon Williams being able to mirror Leighton Baines’ technique crossing balls from the defensive wing position, though Baines plays the left side. Should Sheanon improve that aspect of his game, he’ll earn the right to play in the All-Star game every year that he’s in MLS. Other than that, I hope Marouane Fellaini is on the trip because his white man afro is fantastic.
Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
Congrats to the USA Women’s National team on making the Women’s World Cup Finals. They’re facing off against Japan on Sunday.
No, i’m not gonna make a joke this time. I’ve been called racist, bigotted, asshole, and many things – but orientalist I am NOT.
In Union news, there is yet ANOTER rumor that Ruiz will be joining a Mexican team. And there is ANOTHER rebutal by the star forward saying he’s staying. There’s cheers, jeers, women weeping… Unfourtanately with our fan base, we don’t know which news is causing any of these emotions.
In MLS news, Red Bull enjoys having no cups. They sent only 14 players (no staff) to face Chicago Fire, the day of, for the USOC tournament. Two things can be taken from this – they don’t take the USOC seriously, and that they take the regular season seriously. Fortunately for us, they only walk the walk on one of those things.
It’s been a while since I talked about the CONCACAF scandal, but not much new news bits (read: comedy) has come from it. Since I didn’t do a TL last week, here’s the update – how bad is your company management when someone keeps pressing outside courts to put themselves back in office? It’s really bad when you have to re-release the same mandate saying the man is banned from all things soccer. At this point the punchline is just “FIFA” and a snicker. Then again, it has been for 50 years.
In other news, my stand up comedy gig is going well (read: in my mind).
Back to the Union – we are going to play a game. Pin the ball in Juan Diego Gonzalez. If he touches the ball at any point – be it warm ups, half time, the ball came out of bounds and he tossed it to a playing player, take a picture. We want proof that he is DOING SOMETHING WITH SOCCER. The picture has to be after this date (looking at you Earl, sneaky bugger). Contest to be decided, or just lots of memes.
July 15, the transfer window is approaching fast (so is christmas… it’s already halfway through the year…gotta make christmas cards.) Nowak has made it known that he wants to be active during this time. By active he means doing his usual thing and banging hookers. Wonder where that allocation money for Harvey went huh?
Good luck to the USWNT, and the New England Revolution FANS – may you not get thrown out this time. In the words of Charlie Sheen ”Already got your money”
A scoreless draw on the road against a team that hadn’t scored a goal in 3 of its previous 4 matches. That is what Union left San Jose with Saturday night. While Chris Wondolowski was in the lineup (though you wouldn’t have known it based on his high complaint-to-actually playing the ball ratio), they were missing Bobby Convey and Steven Lenhart. The latter two have given Union many problems, so their absense made this a match that should have more closely resembled the thrashing in Toronto. Union dominated possession and chances, yet scored the same number of goals as the ‘Quakes, and yours truly: zero.
As we are now past the halfway point of the season, I can now rip the team for the way that they’re playing, per my promise given during the first YSA Report podcast. My head is still spinning trying to grasp the logic of the Jordan Harvey trade, then we get news that Carlos Ruiz, Veljko Paunovic, and Carlos Valdes were all going to be absent. I understand that the lineup was going to be drastically different than what it should have been. All of the players in the starting XI have played this season. It’s not as if they asked ANOTHER 30-something to come out of retirement to play. I just don’t get how a team that “allegedly” practices together can look so disjointed. Case-in-point: Roger Torres’ header attempt. He was completely unaware that Jack McInerney was in the same zone and in far better position to leverage that head strike likely into the back of the net. THESE FRIGGIN TIES AGAINST INFERIOR TEAMS HAVE TO F*CKIN STOP!!!!!!! It’s great that DC United helped the Union’s cause by beating the NJ Pink Cows, but the team can’t rely on the rest of the league beating each other up so Union stay atop by default. Playtime is over, kids. Get three points when they’re there to be had.
The last place I want to see Stefani Miglioranzi is on the field, trust me. If someone had told me that Migs was going to play all 90 in this match and somehow NOT make an error that directly resulted in a goal, I would have done a “bearfight” in celebration. I’d prefer that he find the seat next to Juan Diego Gonzalez (that is, if anyone can actually find him). He played a solid game in emergency duty, the credit for which will rightly be given to Faryd Mondragon. I’d also like to thank the San Jose organization for having to use UC-Santa Barbara’s facility for their games. It was quiet enough that Migs could hear the directions from Dragon so well that even he couldn’t screw this game up.
I don’t want to see the possession statistics on this match. It will make me want to throw up, and then punch somebody. Or maybe punch somebody and then throw up on them. Either way, I’m going to be in a bad mood when the statistical analysis proves that Union should have won this match by a field goal. Union’s next match is against New England Revolution, the last place team in the Eastern Conference. This match has now become a must-win. If Union really want to prove that they are the top team in the East, then they need to be able to beat the worst teams in the league, regardless of the venue. That’s what happens in leagues everywhere else in the world; the big guys beat up the little guys (I don’t want to hear Manny Pacquiao references). KC was a bad team: scoreless draw, DC just changed their team up mid-week: another draw, playing a short-handed sh*tty team in San Jose: scoreless draw. Road draws build character for bad teams. Union are in first place, but that will not be true much longer if they can’t figure out a way to beat the teams that they should beat.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
As we all know, if you were following this blog (and if we even mentioned it…? ) me and my cohort in crime joined in on the bus trip to DC. Now, the initial plan was to be live-tweeting the entire thing… but considering I just got Words With Friends app on my phone, and Nick still hasn’t gotten all the right things to keep his phone from draining, our phones were dying quickly. Add in a power outlet that doesn’t work on the bus, and we turned our phones off before we even got down to the tailgate.
But, as I’m sure you all have been waiting for, a detail of the events that took place.
8:00 AM – I woke up and fed the cats… lounging around a bit. Nick texted me about wawa not having chicken cheesesteaks (a perplexity that completely befuddles me). I got in the shower and then anxiously “Just can’t get enoughed” while waiting for Nick to pick me up.
9:15 AM – Nick calls to let me know I’m outside… makes various Jersey Shore comments about my spiked hair, thinking I am trying to go to a rave. We are both in plain clothes so that our appearances won’t give away that we aren’t Sons of Ben (even though my g/f got me a membership, it doesn’t count). We were going to put our Union jerseys on before the march in.
10:00 AM – We curiously follow a car into PPL park area, since we don’t exactly know where this parking lot is. We eventually find it and park. We watch 2 guys playing catch with a baseball, suprisingly both of them are left handed. Nick was wondering if it was too early to drink, but as I pointed out (and was seen) many others already started.
10:30 – the buses roll up and we get out and make way to our bus… unknown of the horrors that would come upon us (just wait).
10:40 – Earl Gardner got kicked off of Bearfight Express, so he found his way on our bus. The master of sound you wish you didn’t hear Travis was also on the bus.
10:50ish – Buses head out. Talking commences, beers cracked open, cheesesteak gets eaten.
11:15 – Once finding our way into Delaware a strange thing happened- our bus got a name. A name to trump other bus names (and beats bus 420′s ass anyday of the week) - Bearscat 1. A twitter, an email, and probably a tv sitcom was created that day. On twitter, the Sons of Ben account stupidly asked for pictures, and #PastyKakes was born… if you must ask… um… don’t. Ask the Scottsman in a kilt and he’ll show you.
At some point we got into Maryland and cheered that we were out of Delaware. It was fun.
2 beers drank to Nick’s 4, I was getting antsy and tired of sitting in direct rays of the sun (windows are useless) and the trip just seemed to drag on much longer than it should have…
1:00pm – We finally reached our destination…sort of… What looked like Johnny Depp stadium, was actually RFK. A shocker… Emblazened around like they were the supreme shit of all shit (which with RFK stadium, they are shit) were banners of the real life stars of the American Flag… i..uh.. sorry, patriotic kick cause it was July 4th. The shit ass players known for being on DC United (Fred sold seperately). So, assuming our trip was about to be over, we were gathering our things… expecting to be in a crap parking lot to begin with. Unfourtanately for our legs’ circulatory flow, the bus drivers made a wrong turn into a practice soccer field and lot. Various jokes about the field being the actual stadium kept going until we finally made a U-y out of there. We also got a look at the surrounding area, and was wondering why we drove 2 hours to end up back in Chester,PA.
Unfourtanately our ride wasn’t over with, as we sat in the bus for another 15 minutes (if they missed the turn again is something we can debate about). We were then told to get off the bus as the lot wasn’t open yet, so as me and Nick got off… the lot was open again… and the doors shut behind us. So we just walked it following the buses in the lot. The buses settled, we were lobbied to help get the SoB tailgate equipment out, someone dumped a cooler that was on wheels, the beer was saved, and the tailgate began.
Me and Nick set up the first cornhole game, which took much too long in debating on where to put the game (there was absolutely no shaded areas for this). We set up next to the DJ booth and bearfight booth, and I heckle Travis.
We went O for 3. Kinda sucks.
Drinking, walking around, chatting, requesting music that either he didn’t have or doesn’t want to play went on for a good while… And then, sometime after four..it happened.
I came, i bearfought, i survived. Honestly, there’s no conquering it whatsoever. If you don’t know what a bearfight is, don’t ask. If you know what a bearfight is, don’t do it. – although, I may have another in the near future. It wasn’t bad, and I was suprised I was chugging without a problem.
For the next hour I didn’t drink anything else but water, and I was alert as anything – think jerking my head around to everything like a squirrel. Me and nick eventually got a game of beerpong in, was quick and I lost.
Thanks to the random guy who freely gave a cigar to me. I didn’t catch your name, but that was a really good cigar.
Some of the CSC event staff were talking with us. An older black gentleman talking about how he grew up on the Rolling Stones and GOOD rock and roll. Another staffer was trying to find the guy with cigars to get one, and in my stupor I couldn’t help him out with finding the guy.
At this time we had gotten our tickets, lobbied for some of the extra flags to wave (and boy did I wave) and the march began. There was no problem walking in, minus some flecks of concrete falling, but it was a feeling of awe being in a march like this. It was just amazing.
Once we were in our section, the team came out for warmups. It was brilliantly timed. At this point though, I’m sure Nick doesn’t remember much of it. As I was getting ridiculed with having a bear fight and not being able to handle myself, I was stone sober – Nick on the other hand was pass out, black out, drunk. He was pretty bad.
Then the shaking began. I’ve never EVER felt any building, physical structure, professional stadium, etc… shake, as much as the upper tier of RFK. When we say it’s falling down, we are not far from the truth. There weren’t any plants though, so that was a disappointment.
The game is the game – you can read some of the reviews. To sum up, being able to see from that high up on the game I got some added respect for Ruiz as I was able to watch how he does move off the ball, hoping for the long one (which is hardly ever sent when it needs to be). Also, I have a dispute with Williams being on the MLS team of the week, as he should have ran up the flank a various number of times after giving Paunovic the ball – if you say open space, he had a whole meadowland to himself if he did… Paunovic even sent the ball up at one point because he thought Williams was making the run… instead he was only 5 feet away from him.
The walk out was definitely a lot longer than the walk in… At least it seemed that way to me. Then, came the hecklers. People who have nothing to do with their life than wait outside and just scream obscenities at the leaving fans.
“Fuck philly” was the first one I ran into, of course outside the stadium, but before the steps to actual level ground.
Then a group of 3 black guys jumped in the middle of the march out and were pointing at their DC United shirts, jumping up and down, egging us on. I yelled back “you can’t beat us” and they looked at me and laughed. All in good fun.
Then… the scuffle.
At the top of the steps, as I had my flag and 2 others (rolled up) there was a guy and his girl in front of me waving a flag walking out with us. In front of us before we turned was another guy yelling “Fuck you” at us… complete drunk, has no glimmer of life in his eyes, just yelling “fuck you”. Well, the guy with the flag when walking away yelled back “Fuck you” and kept walking. I laughed.
Then the drunk who started it – “Fuck me? Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.” He started walking away, then turned back around. At this point he’s behind me and I hear him and see it coming. I try to get in his way and stop him but he just kept going. He followed the guy for about 50 to 60 feet or so. Then they heard him and saw him. The girl got in front of him and said “If you’re going to fight fight me”… tough bitch. He grabbed her, to probably push her to the ground and get around her, then the guy with the flag came in. And then the scuffle began and all three went to the ground. The black guys and various others jumped in to pull them all apart, and once enough people were around to seperate them I went on my way. (Twitter account from philly burbs and goal.com soccer writer Keith @usarsnl was mentioning he was going for the flag, more than likely to either “unarm” who he wanted to beat, or beat him with it… but when a scuffle is going to the ground, you still grab at whatever – but he definitely was going to beat the guy, not steal our shit).
The bus ride back was what you would expect from an 11+ hour trip, people napping, no voices, people who couldn’t sleep (ala me). The buses, back in chester, rolled by a 3 cop car arrest on one of the local roads – we knew we were home.