This first post-season off-season for Union was also a particularly chaotic one. Union were going to be in the process of evaluating their players after their first season together, while building towards the lofty expectations of coach Peter Nowak, the front office, and the fanbase. The additional complications came from that there were 2 expansion teams in a draft, as well as the league-first re-entry draft. The aftermath was the Union losing 4 players, the most that a team could lose through that process.
The lost players: Union lost Alejandro Moreno and Shea Salinas in the expansion draft, while Chris Seitz and Fred were taken in the re-entry draft. I’m fine with losing Moreno, Seitz, and Fred, and the evidence can be found in my match day running diaries. Alejandro Moreno, while a good professional, seemed to fit better in theory than in practice. The initial opinions of the Union side was that they were positioned to be a stalwart defensive team, who would bunker down defensively and counter-attack to score. A holding attacker is a good thing to have in such a system. The reality is that Union played a very open end-to-end style, where Moreno was more of an impement than he was an attacker. The plethora of holding central midfielders on this roster only furthers his obsolescence. In shorter words; no big loss. Fred is very much in the same boat as Ale. He is also a true professional, evidenced by the stories of his work in the lockerroom in building unity. He is obsolete on this team because he is one of the surplus central middies. He played out of position a lot in the right midfield position, which truly limited his effectiveness. He will still have a lot of success wherever he plays, if played in the right position. No big loss for Union in the end, however. And then there’s Mr. Seitz. He’s gone now. And that’s good enough for me. The truth is he will likely end up being an accomplished professional goal keeper. Another truth is that he is not at, nor is he remotely near, that level now. Rumors have Union bringing in Faryd Mondragon, a 39-year-old Colombian playing in Germany, which would push Seitz to 3rd keeper, which would stunt his development even further. No tears will be shed over the departure of young Christopher.
However, there might not have been a need to leave Shea Salinas unprotected. I know there are requirements for a certain number of foreign players being protected, but there’s no reason that Salinas should not be in the starting XI for Union in the 2011 season. Nowak and John Hackworth really had better know what they’re doing. The only other reason I can think that he wasn’t protected is that they know something we don’t about his injuries, and how frequently they may occur down the road. Maybe they pulled a fast one on Vancouver. Right now, I don’t like how this played out at all.
Still to come: Last I heard, there was no concrete deal in place to keep Roger Torres here. He was on a 1-year loan from his Colombian club team. I like certain things about the midfielders on this team, but none of them has the vision or creativity of Roger Torres. They also have the January 13th MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore to look to in filling roster holes. Union have picks #5, 23, 28, 41, and 59 in the 4-round draft. I don’t follow college soccer, so I have no clue as to the depth of the talent available, but I have confidence that Nowak & Company do. Nowak was also quoted saying that they would be looking into Europe for players not getting minutes for their clubs there whom might benefit from playing time in MLS.
While I don’t like the departure of Shea Salinas, it is the reality that MLS is an inferior league and the young players are developed to be transferred to bigger leagues. The same will soon happen for Danny Mwanga, Amobi Okugo, and Jack McInerney, so while I enjoy watching them play now, they soon will be playing abroad, so I guess I can’t get that upset. We soldier on, and learn the names of the new guys.
-Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
Match Vitals: 4pm Saturday, September 25, PPL Park, Chester, PA, Live Well HD Network (streaming online for most of us)
Season Series: Drew, 1-1, at the Home Depot Center, Los Angeles, CA, back on July 3rd.
Union have had 10 days off. I had to look up the last match that they played because I had forgotten, so it must have been a (relatively) long time ago. That being said, I’m ready for some Union football, and what better remedy for a hiatus than to have Chivas USA come visit Chester.
Matchup I Can’t Wait to See: Sebastien Le Toux vs. Jonathan Bornstein
Bornstein’s competent showing for the U.S.A. in the World Cup doesn’t remotely excuse his abominable play for most of the time that I’ve been aware of him. I saw him in-person at the friendly against Turkey, and as soon as he came in as a left back, the Turkish attacks progressed up their right wing. Right at Jon-Jon. I fully expect Coach Peter Nowak to be aware of how much Mr. Bornstein sucks and send Seba his way frequently. I’m not saying that I foresee Le Toux’s second hat trick of the season coming Saturday, but it certainly wouldn’t shock me. In my fantasy prediction league, I put Union in for a 2-1 win. That was until I was reminded that Bornstein plays for Chivas. I now expect 3-1, and would like to see Union score more than that.
Maybe I’m a little obsessed with how much Bornstein is not good enough to play at a level above MLS. Or maybe not, it’s all a matter of opinion. There are other players involved in this contest. Union are getting healthy, as Shea Salinas appeared in the last match against San Jose, and could see himself in the starting XI. Danny Mwanga has had time to allow his shoulder to mend, Juan Diego Gonzales has had time to rest his groin (sounds inappropriate, doesn’t it?), and Alejandro Moreno should be healed from all of the bruises he incurs while unnecessarily falling to the pitch. Union are the healthier side, and they’re playing at home this time, another reason to expect 3 points. Also, on the first day of this month, Union beat the real Chivas (CD de Guadalajara) in a friendly, 1-0. So, if we can beat the real Goats, then beating the watered-down, poorly managed, American version should be a cinch.
Bottom Line: If Union don’t win this match by more than 1 goal, I’ll be upset, and it will come through in my running diary. Enjoy the game!
-Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
On an unrelated note, congratulations to Philadelphia Independence, the talented unknown women’s soccer team here in Philly, for making it to the finals in their inaugural season (and the league’s offical second season). Take it down m’ladies.
We must apologize for the delay in our postings about the previous match and such. Work load gets busy this time of the month, and it just caught up to us (we started this blog while there was downtime). Well, we’re back (sort of).
The next game is on Wednesday, 10 PM EST (for the love of god) against the
Last time we met we were home and they shook us up, well, shook Harvey up in the back field which allowed them the game winning goal to bring us our first defeat in PPL Park.
Some things to look forward to
After the extraordinary and clean sheet performance on Saturday night by Knighton, there may be a change up to see if he can repeat his performance. He is still considered the back up tender and was probably only in the game to give Seitz some time off, maybe he had the sniffles again, but that performance was spectacular sans early on when he chased the ball out of the box. As long as he doesn’t think he’s playing for the Eagles, I think this is the best choice for keeper, but we’re probably going to see what Seitz can do. Considering Knighton did in 2 regular season games what Seitz couldn’t do in the entire season thus far, and that’s give us a clean sheet.
When did we get a defense? Williams, the young upstart from Harrisburg showed tons of promise. His addition to the team pushed Fiscal into center which is a better defensive pairing with Califf, and created an ability for us to… PLAY DEFENSE! It was impressive none the less. I’d hope to see this kid in the game again so we can start to build some defensive confidence. Not only that, he always went on the break on the wings, even though his crosses weren’t up to par, but his throwing ability makes up for all of that.
Califf, not captain material, didn’t look like he was confused throughout the game, which I often feel he is as of late. Maybe this defensive changes and build of confidence will carry over. A win is always great, especially a clean sheet. Hopefully Califf will use his leadership and carry that morale momentum into Wednesday.
He’s back. That’s all that can be said. His presence has been sorely missed. We need his speed and ability with a midfield that still contains Turtle Moreno. His appearance late in the game Saturday showed that he’s back for the last of the season, and you could tell by the noise of crowd on Saturday how much of an impact he can bring to the team.
His x-rays have come back negative, so all he needs now is to get the clearing. The problem: today’s the travel day. Can he get the clearing and leave for the airport (or greyhound) before the team leaves? We’ll see. Not having him in the lineup might bring a little difficulty into playing San Jose… but then again, not having him will just allow Nowak to do his weird magical lineup changes that he likes, and who knows what that will bring.
PUT HIM ON THE LEFT SIDE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! He’s better there!
Noone knows what to do with him… so tell him to stop falling. He’ll never get a call. Never.
Overall, i think the Union, like always, will have great ball possession and control. It will be interesting to see how the confidence and morale boost of a clean sheet will effect how they play. I feel it will be a decent match to watch, as long as you’re awake for it… stupid west coast games.
- Dan K
This is the 2nd matchup of the season between the two sides, to take place at Foxborough, MA’s Gillette Stadium. The first match ended in a 1-1 draw. It will be televised by 6abc @ 7:30pm
The previous match was memorable for two reasons: the goals. Sebastien Le Toux scored his best goal of the season when Danny Mwanga’s poor touch at the top of the 18-yard box led Seba to his teammate’s aid and teed off a right-to-left bender into the far top corner of the net. Journalists and bloggers alike considered it an early candidate for “goal of the year.”
The other goal was less art and more science, and that’s being generous. New England was awarded a free kick, and Marko Perovic took it. It was a fairly standard strike from the onset, until it met a dry, hardened piece of grass in front of Chris Seitz. The Union keeper had positioned himself to get his torso between the ball and the goal, but he did not account for the wicked top-spin bounce that saw the ball hop over his prone body into the net. The Comcast SportsNet-New England broadcast called it “like kissing your sister.” And, I agree, if “your sister” is a rabid Doberman.
That being said, the matchup shifts to the Bay State. The lessons learned from the first match are: The Revs can very easily be contained, they can be scored upon, but Shalrie Joseph will be the best player on the pitch.
New England created chances, but Union defended every one, save for an early chance for Sainey Nyassi, whose shot beat the defense but went wide of the far post. The goal scored, as mentioned above, was properly accounted for by defenders’ positioning, the ball just took a funny bounce. It was purely luck that Revolution came away with a point. However, Union are also the team that has conceded the most goals in the league, including 2 to crappy D.C. United. Their defense has not been consistent, and they only have one road win this year. The goal scorer Perovic is ailing with plantar fasciitis so maybe Union will catch a break. The better injury news (I know, it’s mean to say) is that Alejandro Moreno may not start because of the hamstring issue that got him pulled (no pun intended) from the last match. It’s an opening for a young player to get some feature time.
If Moreno starts, Union will lose 2-1. New England still has a chance to get into the playoffs, and much like United were desperate not to lose both games to an expansion side and played like it, the Revs will want to guarantee three points against a lesser opponent.
If Nowak starts with Mwanga and Le Toux at forward in Moreno’s absence, the teams will likely draw again, I’ll say 1-1, but 2-2 wouldn’t shock me. Union did score first in the last game, and it came as the result of a great build-up, but it was an improvisational strike that was nearly perfect. They won’t score twice in a match if it takes perfection to beat the Revs’ defense. Union have shown too often that they aren’t on the same planet as “perfect” yet.
-Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union