Match Preview: Union @ Chicago Fire
Match time is 8:30pm, Saturday, March 24, 2012, from Toyota Field in Bridgeview, IL, televised locally on The Comcast Network.
What we know: Union are 0-2-0 on the season, Chicago is 0-0-1, having earned a draw at Montreal during Montreal’s first ever MLS home-opener. Union, against Colorado, created good possession that gave opportunities for chances which didn’t often enough lead to actual chances. They have failed in the area of threatening the goal and making the other team’s goal keeper work. Their defense has not been stellar either, allowing 5 goals in 2 matches, and Sheanon Williams was a late addition to the U.S.A U-23 team that is in Olympic qualifying, so that hurts additionally.
What we don’t know: What the hell is going on with Danny Califf? He earns the title of team captain, then gets benched without being informed prior, contradicts reports of an injury, and now apparently, he didn’t even travel with his team to Chicago. I’m not going to claim that Califf is a stand-out performer anymore, but I definitely have a problem with a guy who is the team captain not being given the courtesy of information about his own status. The transperancy of this Union team has to be called into question, as well. Did Union make the move and backstory with the intention of deceiving Colorado? They seem a bit less tactful this week, but none the less confusing. We also don’t know what this means for the rearguard, as 2 of last season’s 4 starters will not be included (Califf and Williams).
What to watch for: In spite of all of this outside mumbo jumbo that will make our heads hurt to think about too much, Union showed significant improvement in some areas from game one to game two. This team is capable of serving dangerous crosses into the 18-yard box from all over the pitch. Their problem is having one of their teammates direct said cross towards, and hopefully into, the goal mouth. Lionard Pajoy made the play that restored some measure of faith in the side, when he made the perfect run to find a cross with his forehead mid-dive to score his team’s only goal…against a 10-man side…a 10-man side that scored a goal themselves while down a man…*vomits*. The hope for the optimists is that the way they pressured late can be duplicated, because though Colorado had 10 men, they would have bunkered in with a 2-goal lead anyway, with just the two strikers not behind the ball. Union scoring their lone goal against a bunkered defense is a positive sign. For the pessimists, other than the runout that lead to Colorado’s 2nd goal, they didn’t do much to threaten the Union half, therefore, Union should have been able to keep their possession in the attacking half more, and create more solid chances. Also, pessimists will remind us all that Union were possession-dominant in the first half and went into the locker room with nothing to show for it. The hope rests in their attacking midfield play being a trend, which will produce better results in the very near future, so look for Roger Torres to feature longer in this match, and he, Gabe Gomez, and Porfirio Lopez will be sending chances in for Pajoy, Danny Mwanga, and Josue Martinez to put in the net.
What this all means: I see Union improvement, but not enough to get a win on the road. Chicago did well on the road last week, but they were still playing Impact who I don’t have faith in yet. Union are under pressure to get a win, playing on the road… I see this as a draw, likely 1-1, but 2-2 wouldn’t shock me.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@unholyunionNDY)