Dan – 17 out of 30
Nick – 13 out of 30
DK: This week we’re going to incorporate a special guest pick set of our dear, beloved friend, Johnny “Vegas”. Let’s see if he’s as sharp as we are.
Saturday, April 14th, 3:30 pm from PPL Park in Chester, PA.
While the weather tomorrow is supposed to warm up, I see no proof that our beloved soccer team will follow suit. It’s been said that this matchup pits two similar teams against each other. The only similarities I see that matter are that both Union and Columbus have played four matches, and both have allowed six goals. Union have achieved just a single draw along with three losses, whereas Crew have managed to win two and lose two. That means a five-point differential between the two sides. That sort of differential suggests this season has NOT been very similar for these two teams.
Positives: I won’t be completely negative in this post. The positives are that Union posted a clean sheet defensively last match, and Freddy Adu is back and ready to take a spot leading his club team, hopefully in the same impactful way that he lead the US U-23 Team. Much controversy was aswirl about the decision to not include captain Danny Califf in the lineup. Defenses thrive on consistency, and this was as inconsistent a move as any that Peter Nowak has made during his stewardship over the Union. Califf was reinserted in the starting XI for last match, against Vancouver, and Union did not concede a goal. The bye-week in the match schedule should ensure that the same back four is set to go against Columbus, and that’s a good thing.
Maybe Freddy will be the voice needed to get this team’s offense to put shots on goal. Union need some players with the killer-spirit to out-work the defender and find a way to get the shots within the frame of the goal. Roger Torres being hurt doesn’t help, since he’s one of the guys who’s actually created a goal this season (sad as that is to type). Adu possesses a similar skill set, so with a little help from his striker friends, Freddy may be just what this team needs to right the ship.
I just don’t see that happening. Freddy Adu does have the creative flair to initiate offensive chances. However, he always appears to be on a different page than his forwards, so his passes find no teammate. Unless they’ve actually been practicing a ton in the two weeks since that Vancouver match, I just don’t see them hitting all cylanders on offense yet. I predicted a 1-1 draw, which would still be a step in the right direction. I think they’ll score first, and concede a late goal based on some good work from Columbus, not the result of a defensive error.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
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
I’ve made note of this before, some banners in the River End have been missing since July, one in which was Charlie Sheen… Now, I’m not saying it’s primarily because of the banners, but there is an awful lot of coincidence in the Charlie Sheen banner hanging proudly in The River End, and our first win in two months. If you have finally recovered from celebrating (or dredding the Sunday night loss of the Eagles, both should result in hangovers) you already know we beat Columbus 1-nothing.
With a starting eleven that rotates more than a 5 year old on a computer chair, this was the most haphazard chemistry experiment Nowak has implemented this year. We started with the normal GK with MacMath, Valdes, Califf, Williams, and an interchangable Farfan in left back (Gabe this time). In the midfield was our solid CMD in Carroll, and our new favorite combination of Adu Torres. The change here, as Justin Mapp was listed on the injury report, was our youngest acquisition – Pfeffer. The 17 year old had his first start and played well – but I will get to that later. So, with the midfield with a little twist, you would expect to see Mwanga and LeToux up top. Well, half right. The interchangeable Farfan’s strike again with being able to fill a striker position with Michael. My eyes went crosseyed when I saw this line up. Nowak was either a mad genius, or has gone mad. Both are the case, but I’ll just go with genius. That or he reads all the bloggers’ predictions before hand just to mess with our heads so that we are always wrong.
What went right-
Most everything. We didn’t have drifting midfielders. We didn’t look like a midfield blob the entire game. No overplaying the ball defensively and having to chase. It was one of our better form games this year, and it showed.
It seemed from my end that it was mostly a midfield battle, as Columbus would come in and literally possess the ball with handling and passing, which they are fairly good at. For the Union however, from the beginning, it seemed our strategy was grab and dash. We weren’t really trying to keep the ball possession, rather, get the ball, and get it to goal as fast as possible. Many breaks would end up with the ball stolen and Columbus back to pure possession, so the first half Columbus generally maintained the ball. But like most strategies for a counterattack game, if you do it long enough there will be a breakthrough and it came with Torres to Le Toux.
Now, there were a few breaks before that could have resulted in goals or attempts, but this one was just perfect. Torres on the right wing on the defensive side of midfield looks up to see Le Toux in between two Columbus defenders, pointing at goal. I don’t know why this has never been done before, but Torres actually sent the ball in… Not only did he send it in, it was perfectly spaced and weighted putting the ball in front of Le Toux, inside the 18. Le Toux with a step on the defender coming in at full speed, you would think that he would end up hitting the ball high or wide, but something has happened to the Frenchmen in the past 2 months – he got his touch back. He calmly struck to ball low and to the right of Columbus keeper Hessmer, and officially made him his bitch.
Pfeffer in the closing minutes of the 1st half had a shot on goal as well, initiated from a Torres cross to Le Toux into the box once again, which he then outplayed a defender along the goal line and got it to Pfeffer who was in the middle right side of the 18 box, with his back to goal, pivots and strikes the ball nicely for such a shot. Unfortunately it was directly at the keeper. Not bad for a 17 year old.
These were the only 2 shots on goal out of 8. 5 others went wide, and another was stopped before it reached net. Columbus had an equal amount of chances, but only required MacMath to make one save, giving him the clean sheet and first MLS career win. They also had 4 shots off target, and 3 were blocked.
What you would have thought-
Thinking about this, I don’t know why Columbus did not try to go on our left flank more than they did. Granted, we have a 17 year old first time starter as left midfielder, and Gabe Farfan, the better defender of the two Farfans, but not a natural defender – so thinking strategically you would pressure that one side. Luckily enough, they’re Columbus and screwed up. I’m not complaining, but it makes you wonder about the strategies teams try to implement – and remind us that even though it seems we don’t have one cut in stone, some other teams are that much more worse off.
What to improve -
To be honest, I can’t think of anything to improve on with this game. Adu did very little, but was available for distribution. Torres made some fantastic service similar to that which we saw and loved last year. And we looked like a team that knows how to get in first place for the conference, and has the making to finish the season strong.
I guess the only thing I would ask for would be some insurance goals. Sitting on one goal leads is never pretty, but it wasn’t like we weren’t trying. Just get it on target boys.
Also, in case you didn’t know – during half time Rotary International was showcased, a volunteer organization that provides “communitees at home and abroad to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, and eradicate polio.” That was taken from the main international site. You can go to Rotary.org, philarotary.org or the Philadelphia Club facebook. They used this game to raise funds to be donated to Rotary for polio education.
Seattle has invented everything just recently, and are looking to add to their invention of pissing off the rest of the US soccer world if they can get past FC Dallas in the USOC semis for their third straight USOC championship game (and title). Let’s all hope that Sigi doesn’t pull his scarf too tight around his neck and pop his head off. That wouldn’t be a pretty site. The other MLS team in it still is Chicago, unfourtanately for them, the other team looks like they will show up to the game.
In Union news, not much Union news. It’s hard enough to get new news bits from a team with closed lips, it’s even worse when we don’t have a game for 2 weeks. I don’t even know what day it is now.
Speaking of blowouts, Columbus Crew did the Union a huge favor at Seattle by not showing up and losing 6-2. That’s representing the Eastern conference for you.
Congrats to the Crew’s Jeff Cunningham on surpassing Jaime Moreno for the most career MLS goals. Now back to obscurity with you.
In around the world news – Diego Maradona is coaching over in Dubai for Al Wasl FC. He has an annual salary of 3.5 million, and a private jet at his disposal for 2 seasons. Someone is #winning all over the place right now.
Yes I just made a 5 month old Charlie Sheen joke. But seriously, what else are you going to do on a private jet than hookers and blow. We’re also talking about the “Hand of God” here, so of course he’s doing that. Don’t expect him to be using that jet for something like aiding earthquake survivors.
Weatherwise, it’s been a rough week. Starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, then airplanes. Well, Lenny Bruce was not afraid. Then a eye of a hurricane, can you hear yourself churn? In all serious, REM aside, we at UU hope everyone is alright and that your power’s back.
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.
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.