Dan – 13 out of 25
Nick – 12 out of 25
DK: There’s a reason why we’re not in Vegas.
NY: Damn right. There are better sports books for soccer in Europe anyhow.
DK: Well here we are again. I’m getting to these picks late as usual… I need to start slacking off work more often.
NY: MORE often?!?!? Is that possible?
DK: Game of the week should be KC vs RSL. 5 and 0 versus 5 and 1. Top of east verse west. KC has only allowed 1 goal in 5 games, and RSL has only allowed 4 in 6 games. RSL’s only loss so far came at the feet of Chivas, so consistency can be a question, but that was a couple weeks ago. Neither team is going to take the other lightly, and this will probably see some decent amount of scoring chances from both teams. This one can really go either way, but a tie is most certainly out of the question. I’m going to go with KC over RSL 3-2.
NY: In Seattle v Colorado, I’m going to take a one week break from my assertion that Seattle always wins at home. I’ll say 2-2 draw for this one.
DK: 2nd pick is going to be Dallas over Montreal. Hands down. I don’t think I have to go into much detail as to why, even though Montreal can take you by surprise. Dallas 2-0
NY: New England v DC United ought to be an easy one for DC, with NE’s Shalrie Joseph suspended for the match. I foresee much bad dancing from DeRo. 3-0 DC wins.
DK: 3rd pick is Toronto and Chivas. Now that Toronto can focus on the MLS regular season, will they go back to their normal level of suck that we’re accustomed to seeing? Not likely. I’ll put my money on Toronto finally getting their first points against Chivas 1-0.
NY: RBNY hosting San Jose is going to be ugly. As if it isn’t bad enough for the ‘Quakes that they have to travel cross-country for this, they’re running into the We-Play-Much-Better-Without-Luke-Rodgers NY side. Henry finds some way to net a couple more cheap goals and earn Player of the Week honors yet again. 4-1 RBNY win
DK: 4th pick is one of those gimmes that probably will slap me in the face. LA versus Portland. Bottom of the west coast (who knew that LA was at the bottom – supporters shield my ass). Whatever has befallen the Galaxy, I’m certain good ole Bruce – I look like a Bond Villain – Arena will start lighting some fire under peoples asses so that the golden child of the MLS won’t go 1-5-0. My suggestion, start with the money piled up to pay Donovan and Beckham. LA over Portland 1-0.
NY: Chicago v Houston is going to be a more competitive match than most this week. That’s because Brad Davis won’t be playing, leaving Houston with a midfielder shortage. This wouldn’t be a problem for them if Peter Nowak was their coach, because he would just play some forwards out of position there. That guy’s got the answer for everything (I wouldn’t have been able to say that line without laughing, which is where typed text works better). 2-1 Chicago Fire win.
DK: This one never gets old – and by that, it means it does. The only thing we do know is that there is one less midfielder to randomly pick who might even ride the bench, yet alone start. Hopefully Torres gets a fast and full recovery. Anyway – I would say that we get to see Garfan back in that ill-fated LB position, as Lopez is likely with his national team. Other than that… Yea. I don’t know either. What I do know is that something was starting to click in that last match against Vancouver, but unfortunately it wasn’t shots. Columbus isn’t that great either, and word on the interwebz has it that even Columbus fans don’t think this is going to be a stellar game, as both teams have went on the decline – don’t let Columbus’ 2 wins fool you, those were games they were supposed to win (Montreal, TFC). What I think? I think we’ll finally notch our first win. The shots will pour forth as if the Bearfight Brigade converted into Jersey Shore wannabes. Union 2-0.
NY: Yes, Columbus and Philly are having similar seasons right now, but Union will only go as far as Freddy Adu takes them, which will not be good enough. I just can’t see them scoring 2 goals right now without Torres involved. I’m picking this to be a 1-1 draw.
DK: KC 3-2 RSL; Dallas 2-0 Montreal; Toronto 1-0 Chivas; LA 1-0 Portland; Union 2-0 Columbus
NY: Seattle 2-2 Colorado; NE 0-3 DC; NY 4-1 SJE; Chicago 2-1 Houston; Union 1-1 Columbus
This is the weekly post where Dan and Nick square off to see whom can better predict the outcomes of 5 matches from the MLS slate. The email happened as follows:
Montreal v Toronto; Columbus v New York; SKC v LA; San Jose v Vancouver; DC v Seattle; RSL v Colorado; Portland v Chivas
DK: Not like I’ve been posting anything on the blog to begin with, but it’s still nice to not have to worry about a “pregame” post commenting about how we don’t have faith in the team (read: Management).
NY: Dan, just because Union don’t have a match doesn’t mean that you and I can’t poorly predict the outcomes of the rest of the MLS weekend slate. Let’s begin, shall we?
I’ll take Union’s 2 biggest geographic rivals, New York and DC to start. New York seems to have been buoyed by the fact that Luke Rodgers is not going to be able to return to the team due to visa problems. He seems like a jackass. New York, on the road, is going to continue their We-play-better-without-Luke run of form and defeat their hosts, Columbus, 3-1.
DK: I think NY IS better without Luke – seriously, I hate the guy… then again there aren’t many opposing strikers that I don’t hate. But NY is traveling to Columbus, who doesn’t look too awfully shabby, but they’ve only played 3 games, and one was Toronto. I’ll still give it to home field advantage and say that Columbus over takes NY, but 2-0. That, or Henrey places the ball in the net a few times (note: I didn’t say kick).
NY: DC United looked scary-good last week, and they are hosting Seattle, which should dedicate this match to the memories of Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley, both of whom died on April 5, in 1994 and 2002, respectively. Ok, so they won’t, but wouldn’t it be otherworldly awesome if Sounders donned a flannel-pattern kit for this match as a tribute? Pearl Jam and Soundgarden as a postgame concert? Might be the only way that DC would sell as many tickets as Seattle averages. Be that as it may, this will be the game of the week, with DC winning 3-2.
DK: 2nd pick is the teams from states in the middle west that fall into a whole in the map. RSL vs Colorado. RSL is at home, but they just recently played Montreal on Wednesday, and won only 1-0. You’d think they’d notch a few more goals on that one, but you can’t complain about a team with a 4 win and 1 loss start (I wish I could talk about a team with that start). This is early to call, but obvious as a possible playoff match preview and the current battle for top of the West. Note: RSL has a 6 game unbeaten street against Colorado, and I think this will continue on to 7. RSL over Colorado 2-1.
NY: Civil war! The first MLS regular season meeting between Montreal and Toronto will be a snoozer. TFC is still seeing visions of Herculez Gomez scoring goals creeping behind their centerbacks, and Montreal hasn’t found their MLS-level game yet. However, they earn a draw, 1-1, based on home field advantage.
DK: I too think that Montreal and Toronto will be a tie. It’s just how much of a level of bore and ‘potential’ do you want to witness for this match. Leave it in Canada and let us not suffer a 0-0 game.
NY: Runner-up for match-of-the-week is Sporting Kansas City hosting LA Galaxy. It’s the runner up because LA is not playing well right now, otherwise, it’s a 4-0-0 SKC hosting the defending MLS Cup Champions. I see SKC winning this one 2-1, and staking early claim to the title of early frontrunner for this year’s title. And, commence fanning the rumor flames that KC can exercise their contractual rights to Herc Gomez to bring him in on-loan once the Clausura is over, and he likely wins the title there, too.
DK: Again we’re picking the same outcome. SKC at home is similar to what LA was last year. Not only that, SKC has momentum – and talent. Right now LA only has piles of cash. Even though I doubt Gomez will come back to play for KC at any point in time, in the near future KC will easily handle what LA brings and Kamara will notch 2 goals easy. 2-1 also.
NY: And I need a relative gimmie, so I’ll close with Timbers hosting Chivas. It’s well-documented through these posts what my opinion of Chivas is. I know they didn’t follow orders 2 weeks back in beating RSL, but that was an aberration. That idiot with the chainsaw will get to celebrate a home victory, and cut into that log a few times in doing so. Portlandia 3-1.
DK: Yes Portland’s at home, and that buffoon will likely have fun celebrating a few goals (seriously, what are you compensating for with that chainsaw) – but I don’t want him celebrating with that chainsaw. I get the gimmick, I get the tradition, I just don’t like it. And in that I’m saying that he won’t be celebrating and this will end in a 0-0 tie. Don’t you like the way I make my picks?
NY: And in closing, with a bonus prediction, I’ll predict that Union don’t lose this weekend. It might be the only thing I get right.
Summary: NY: Columbus 1-3 New York, DC 3-2 Seattle, Montreal 1-1 Toronto, SKC 2-1 LA, Portland 3-1 Chivas USA
DK: Columbus 2-1 New York, RSL 2-1 Colorado, Montreal 0-0 Toronto, SKC 2-1 LA, Portland 0-0 Chivas USA
Score – Dan 7, Nick 8
DK: Well, last week was completely miserable… I didn’t get shit right.
NY: That’s because your luck has run out. I’m in front on the scoreboard, the way it should be.
DK: Hopefully not run out enough to win the lottery tonight.
DK: Since I have to right my sinking ship, I’m going to pick LA vs New England. New England squeaked one out last week at home, but now they have to play LA in LA. We all know how that works out for east coast teams. 2-0 LA just because they’re LA
NY: DC v FCD: Andy Najar is away on Honduran international duty, and Brek Shea is just back from US international duty. I think DeRo nets one, and Dallas gets one. I call a 1-1 draw, in a match that may have more people on the field than in the RFK Stadium stands.
DK: Chivas vs SKC. Chivas did the unthinkable, unimaginable, the incredible… ok I didn’t watch the game whatsoever. But they defeated RSL last week (much to the demise of our pick count) – one of the last teams you would think Chivas could defeat. Well, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, and Chivas is not that good of a team, and SKC is that good of a team with many attacking options (I’m still scratching my head as to why RSL didn’t score though). SKC will easily walk into LA and take a win from Chivas, and stay undefeated. 3-1
NY: Seattle v San Jose: Seattle wins at home. I know San Jose defied my prediction last week, it won’t happen again this week. Seattle at home 2-1
DK: This is the only time I’m going to pick RBNY. Still surprised at their manhandling of Vancouver, but if they did that to Vancouver at home, they should easily take apart the expansion side of Montreal in that wasteland they call home (or Harrison). New Jersey Pink Cows will get the win, while acting and looking like they are the top class of the league – when we all know they aren’t. 2-0
NY: Portland v RSL: Interesting contest, considering RSL losing last week, and having to go on the road in a difficult setting. I will pick a 1-1 draw here, as well.
DK: Toronto vs Columbus – Toronto, all though they have been playing well at BMO field, is more concerned about Santos and the Champions League than MLS right now. Columbus will come in and wipe the floor with TFC. 2-1
NY: Colorado v Chicago: A matchup of two teams that we’ve already seen play against Union. I was more impressed with Colorado, plus they’re playing at home, so I give this one to the Rapids, 2-0.
DK: We have the team. We have the players Nowak wants… now it’s just implementing the fuck out of it. We also need to score that 2nd goal. If we don’t, all is for lost. But I’m going to say this will come down to a 1-1 tie. Le Toux, if he plays, won’t be spectacular (neither will be our team).
NY: Union need to take the attitude of Gabriel Gomez on themselves. He’s fiery, determined, and skilled. If the whole team plays the way he does, they will win. I don’t expect them to, therefore, I see this ending 1-1, only because Vancouver will not have Eric Hassli. If he was in the lineup, the ‘Caps would win this outright.
LA 2-0 New England
Chivas 1-3 SKC
NY 2-0 Montreal
Toronto 1-2 Columbus
Union 1-1 Vancouver
DC 1-1 Dallas
Seattle 2-1 San Jose
Portland 1-1 RSL
Colorado 2-0 Chicago
Union 1-1 Vancouver
Stay tuned later for our match ‘pre’view
In seven days, Philadelphia Union have scored 2 goals, conceded 5, and sit with zero points out of a possible six. Over 19,000 attended the home opener, with a far greater number than that wonder just what in the name of everything Holy is Peter Nowak doing with this club?
The match in Portland was almost certainly a loss from the outset. The conditions were horrid for a team that doesn’t play in them often. The Jeld-Wen Field surface is artificial, and the Pacific Northwest is almost a 100% guarantee for rain. All of the roster turnover made for an impossible task for Union to escape Portlandia with any points.
The home opener yesterday, however, was a match that left me with mixed emotions. You can see the week 2 predictions post to see that I, correctly, predicted Union would lose. The game left me with a more confident feeling about the side, that they would be able to create goals once these new pieces get more game time together. Then again, they had a significant spell where they had one more man on the field than did Colorado. So, yes, they created chances in the second half, but they also gave up a goal to a 10-man squad.
My main issue with Union so far in their existence is that they don’t allow us fans to view them in the pre-season, unless we travel to their remote sites. They don’t stream their pre-season matches online, so we are left to settle for team-generated articles chronicling the team’s progress. It’s a nasty system of secrecy set up to keep us in the dark. It’s the same cloud that hovers over yesterday’s benching of Captain Danny Califf. Cap’n Ink says he’s not hurt, despite his coach’s claim that he is. This is the reason I couldn’t write a season preview: I had no idea what to expect from this team.
This is what I see so far: They are struggling with their formation, some of the new players are not acclimating as well as others, and they don’t have a backbone as of now. The team attempted to sell Michael Farfan, coming off of his Rookie of the Year finalist nomination, as the piece that would help us all forget Sebastien Le Toux. He’s been ineffective in both matches so far. His forward passing has not connected, his shots don’t get through defenders often enough, and he seems, at times, lost in where to make his runs to. Granted, it’s just 2 matches into the season, but when the front office turns over the team as much as they have prior to this season, some better results should be expected if they’d like us to believe that they actually know what they’re doing. Secondly, Gabriel Gomez has been very good in his first MLS week. I like his service on set pieces, and he plays a gritty game defensively. I have a lot of confidence so far in both he and Lionard Pajoy. Neither is hard to understand, considering they’ve netted Union’s only goals of the season. The Central American imports Josue Martinez and Porfirio Lopez have not impressed thus far. Lopez was caught napping on the other side of MacMath’s bungle yesterday, and was victimized for at least 2 of the 3 goals Portland scored. Martinez showed some signs of being a dynamic player, so I’ll hold off ripping him until he gets some more playing time. Neither of those two, however, has covered themselves in glory. And, the defense… what happened? They allowed the second-fewest goals in the league last season, only to see 5 put in behind MacMath in 2 matches. The new left back Lopez has not solidified that position, and Califf getting benched added a new state of flux to what last season was the strength and identity of the squad. Now that that area is a liability, what DO Union hang their proverbial hat on as their identity? They still attack with the orchestration of a team that does not practice together. It’s become demonstrated by players, like Gomez, that the attackers are not getting into the right places to make the final and finishing touches. They have trouble as an all-out attacking team, and they’re no longer a solid defensive side, so what are they? This question could be answered so much more easily if I had been able to see more than 180 minutes (plus added injury time, of course) of the 2012 Philadelphia Union.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
All went well for Dan minus his Union pick, as he went 4 for 4 prior to the Union loss. Nick caught back up due to his union prediction. Scores Dan 4 – Nick 3. On to week 2!
NY: San Jose v Houston: Lingering from last year’s playoff defeat of the Union, I still don’t like Houston. I know they won a road match last week, but that was against Chivas. There might not be a worse team in this league than Chivas. Therefore, I will say that Wondo nets one for the ‘Quakes, and the match ends in a 1-1 draw.
DK: As I would normally pick this match and say Houston over San Jose, Houston not scoring a goal til the 92nd minute against Chivas is going to make me walk away from this one. Instead I’m going to pick Kansas City over New England. I’m basing this on SKC holding strong and proving that they are and will be the top of the East (that counterattack is hard to stifle) and the New England is still rotting from the inside out in all areas of management, playing, and so forth. 2-0 for Sporting at home.
NY: FC Dallas v Portland: Lingering from last week’s defeat of the Union, I still don’t like Portland. Dallas did well to frustrate PCNJ last week, but Portland isn’t a bunch of whiny, complaining quitters. This being in Dallas, I think FCD takes this 2-1.
DK: I’m just going to say that I’m going to pick most all other league matches. The ones you picked are likely going to be close ones. I don’t think Portland can out match DC like the way they outplayed the Union, but it goes without saying that they are completely match fit and this will be a good match to watch.
My 2nd match is going to be Montreal and Chicago. Chicago had a bye in the opening week and will be well rested. If you include the fact that their starting line is still intact from last year, they are already miles ahead of the Impact… but what amount of impact (see what I did there) will a ‘record breaking’ crowd for Montreal do for the home team? I don’t think a bunch of French Canadian fans will make that much of a difference. I’ll say Montreal will finally tally a goal, but lose 2-1 to Chicago.
NY: Real Salt Lake v New York: RSL dominated a tired LA Galaxy 3-1. They might double that goal-scoring output against a team who seemed to only have 2 players who cared against Dallas. Ok, maybe not quite THAT bad, but RSL wins again, either 2-0 or 3-1.
DK: 3rd pick for me is Seattle verse Toronto. Both played the 2nd leg of the CONCACAF Champion’s league Quarterfinal Wednesday night. Seattle, being thoroughly embarrassed by Santos – Toronto overcoming the “goliath” in LA. One’s confidence is likely shattered, the other is walking on air. Both are going to have their fair amount of travel-lag and fatigue between Wed and Saturday. I don’t think the home field advantage of plastic and fluorescent colors will help Seattle against the confidence TFC will have after beating LA at home. 2-1 TFC.
NY: Chivas v Vancouver: Chivas sucks. Sebastien Le Toux will become Sebastien Le Two in this one, and all Union faithful will shed a tear into their green beer.
DK: Far too obvious. Vancouver played solid soccer in their opener. Can’t do anything but agree with you on this one. The gimme pick of the week – Vancouver wins 2-0
NY: Union v Colorado: Union found it tough to navigate the midfield against Portland, and they will be faced with Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni in the central midfield which won’t make things any easier. I’m setting the yellow card over/under at 4.5. That same over/under applies to number of times we will collectively nearly crap ourselves because a Colorado right winger gets behind Porfirio Lopez. Unless something changes miraculously from Monday to Sunday, I see this as another loss for the U, at BEST a draw. Second verse, same as the first, Union 1-2 Colorado.
DK: I’ll stop being a homer for once and I’m going to get flack for this as well. There’s no possible way we’re going to play as a team. We look like we’re in 2010 form, minus someone attempting to fly like superman (yes, I’m never going to give up on referencing David Myrie’s performance). We have no midfield – literally they almost disappeared. Our strikers were too far depressed into our defensive half, providing few outlets for any possible counterattack (which we never had). And our defensive line looks surprisingly shaky – granted that after Portland’s tying goal we started to panic and play the long ball – something of which we again, never had – and opened ourselves up more for constant pressure did NOT help ourselves defensively. Colorado is a tough team to beat, even with Casey Connor out for who knows how long. 2-0 Colorado. The only thing that could save us is home field advantage, Colorado travel lag, and MacMath showing us the same performance he did in goal last year. But all signs point to no win.
SJ vs Hou – Tie
FCD vs Por – FCD 2-1
RSL vs NY – RSL win
Chivas vs Van – Van win
UNION vs Colorado – loss
SKC vs NE – SKC 2-0
Mon vs Chi – Chi 2-1
Sea vs TFC – TFC 2-1
Chivas vs Van – Van 2-0
UNION vs Colorado – loss
So, there have been a lot of things happening this past week… losses…ties…ties..bearfights. So, without further ado, a break down of the Pros and Cons of what has happened with the Philadelphia Union.
CON – Fan Favorites
I’ll come out and say it, after the game on Saturday versus Houston, there is no way Le Toux is not cursed. Prior to this game, I wanted him benched for at least a half and make him take notes and write an essay about what he should do, where he should go, and what is going on with the movement on the ball. Saturday, being his best game of the season in my view, was undeniably unlucky in a World Series of Dice fashion. But where he is unlucky, he is leaving goals and subsequent points in the standings off the board.
OOOOOH – Shoot the damn ball-all (to tune of seven nation army). Danny, I cannot say any more, louder, with more veins popping out of my neck, Shoot the damn ball! I’ve made plenty of comments on twitter, on forums, on the street, in my bed, in my head… everywhere. You are young, you can screw up, you can miss the goal for all I freaking care, but if you expect yourself to get picked up in Europe, in every situation you were in that had me yelling at you, they will not take you if you don’t shoot the frigging ball at goal when points are on the line – yet alone with half empty nets. You may be a fan favorite, for a long time, but let me tell you this – you CAN do wrong, especially when you’re doing nothing.
PROS – Starvin’ Marvins
Roger Torres, Vjelko “Old Serb” Paunovic, and Union Jack McInerney. 2 you would expect, and another you didn’t see coming, starving for the goals that have been absent (and relatively are for most of the season). Torres almost lead the team into a rally to tie the game against the defending MLS champs in the Rapids. Paunovic got the fire started with a nice shot from distance to take the lead in the first half verse Chicago. It’s what you gotta do when you have no box play – and trust me, this team has none. Unfourtanately that dwindled into a tie situation, one that could have easily changed if a certain someone had shot the ball instead of thinking about it. And then McInerney gets his start in the final game in 9 days versus Houston. What happens? A nice LEAD feed into the box by Le Toux, and without thinking even with it out of reach and a defender on him, Jack gets a lucky touch on the ball before the goalie to send it wobbling behind the keeper. I cheered, I cried, I kissed babies. It was a beautiful moment. Even more beautiful was the second goal, if it had happened. Differing reports say that he was clearly onsides, others say his foot crossed the path a split second early, and I say onsides. So, it was onsides and should have gone in ( ) but oh well. He gave us a lead, that we once again squandered.
CON – Something Smells Fishy (7/29/11)
As there are a multitude of fans who dislike him, plenty who started turning over a new leaf, and a good loyal few who supported the guy the second he got here, it was a shock to hear that the Union had sold Carlos Ruiz… Well, he wasn’t in the game, so we knew something was up. Although he was not a long term solution, he was still vital to a lot of chances we wouldn’t have if he wasn’t there (presence). I’m still chalking this up as a con even though plenty won’t agree. But, upon saying he was no longer Union’s property at that press conference, he still was. Tricky Nowak, he is. And it took another week before things settled into -
PRO – What’s Your’s is Mine
It started as “Ruiz is no longer with us.” Into “He is still property of the Union” and then “It is a complicated, multi-team deal.” Speculation would lead you, the unwitting soccer fan, into the idea that we are replacing Ruiz with someone, or trading him through a team to another team for money for another player… You basically need a John Madden teleprompter to think these things out. But we got sidetracked into a bittersweet solution that most of us forget about – loans.
Valdes is no longer loaned out to us. Instead, we own his ass. It was nice to hear, considering what happened with our previous loanee Orozco Fiscal (who will be with the USMNT tomorrow). It was very bittersweet because, we’ve gotten rid of two starters recently, and various reserves, and have yet to replace anyone. So to find out our first acquisition during the trade window is to own the rights of a player that wasn’t in question for another 6 months, was kind of a heart drop.
CON – Weight of the world
If anything damaging salary cap wise is the fact that we still have Juan Diego Gonzalez. I’m not knocking him as a player, or a person… I’m knocking the team for not ever using him during league play, and that it’s just a complete waste. If you’re not going to bother with him, get rid of him. Pick someone else up.
PRO – Soon enough
Rumor has it that someone’s contract was signed, for a year, on August 6/7 2010. Of course, it is likely we won’t hear any word on Gonzalez because of the Union policy of “We do not talk about players who are not under contract with the Union”. So for what it’s worth, we will probably not know he is off the team until some media guy (read: local aspiring journalist) asks the question and gets that response a month from now.
CON – Ejection in a bottle
During the Rapids game, some fan (read: moron) threw a bottle from the River End which resulted in a brawl. To the man who threw the bottle and subsequently did not like being pointed out for doing so, how old are you? 10? That’s the last time I had gotten into a fight for name calling and pointing. How much of a mental midget do you have to be to start a fight because you broke the rules and didn’t like being told on? This is besides throwing the bottle… I have anger issues myself, but I never throw things (in stadiums). Hope spending overinflated money on StubHub, the 20 dollar parking fee, and 3 $8-$10 beers you had was worth the night in jail. I’m sure Bubba gave you my regards.
Pro – All for one
Corner creeps get mad respect. As do all those around who either pointed the asshole out, or was able to (eventually) break up the fight and / or vindicate those who were only defending themselves. This is the only pro to this situation cause it only makes us all, as soccer fans, look bad.
CON – Why do they call them “Tie Fighters”?
I’m sick of leaving points on the field. Don’t you? Colorado was a travesty that there was no way in salvaging sans an extra time effort. But both Chicago and Houston feel dirty, and feel like a loss because we were up early and had to settle for a tie.
Pro – What do you mean pro!?
Yea, there’s really nothing positive about that. At least we didn’t completely lose it.
That was our week (and a half) in review. Tune back next time when 3 games happen within 8 days again while I have a shit ton of actual work to do.
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
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
Saturday, June 4 @ 9pm @ Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
Union are coming off their most impressive display of the season, that 6-2 thrashing of Toronto FC that we all enjoyed watching so much (save for the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half). Union largely avoid being effected by the Gold Cup, as only Carlos Ruiz is away serving national team duty. Should Union continue to score in droves sans Ruiz, then I will be rooting for Guatemala to make a long run in the tournament.
Colorado, on the other hand, loses 2 players to playing in the Gold Cup. Omar Cummings, the scary-good forward, and Tyrone Marshall will both be playing for Jamaica, which is good for Union. What isn’t so good is that Colorado earned a draw at RBNY without those 2 in the lineup. One of their goals was allegedly somewhat of a gift, a penalty given for a foul that appeared to be outside of the area. Still, both of those goals were scored by Chestnut Hill Academy product Jeff Larentowicz. He will be in this match, so Rapids are still dangerous. They also have only lost 1 match thus far at home. But they’ve only won 4 matches overall.
Union will look to continue their offensive growth, as well as further their consecutive wins. The 6-pack they put up on TFC was likely an abberation, but their confidence and competency is not. The recipe seems to be take Union, remove Ruiz, add a Farfan, the POOF! instant offensive success! Or something like that. It also helps when Justin Mapp actually plays the way he’s supposed to (read: using both feet) and they get width from both the outside midfielders and their fullbacks. Jordan Harvey’s cross to set up the first goal, while far from perfect, worked because he was wide enough that he had the space to pass. The part he could control, putting the ball into a good attacking area, was accomplished. That doesn’t happen as often when any number of midfielders who drift toward the center of the pitch as if magnetically drawn attempt through balls from those compromised positions. Tactics and instinct aside, the most encouraging part is that they are showing the confidence with their shooting (except for some French guy who led this team in every statistical category that mattered last year).
Riding this momentum will result in a nice road result against a mildly short-handed side. I see this match going to Union 2-1. I’m a bit concerned with the way Mondragon plays when pressed into action. I hope the backline feels the need to step up after last week’s performance (not that they were bad, just bad for them. They’ve set a higher standard). No clean sheet, but 3 points on the road is never a bad thing. And 6 more goals would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.
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.