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)
If that seems like a redundant question about Union, it’s because it is. Sebastien Le Toux has been in stellar form the last third of the season. However, he is the only Union player in attack that can make that claim. The addition of Freddy Adu has done little to make this a more dangerous team. So, if Houston only has Le Toux to worry about, and focus their defense on him, how the hell are Union going to score? (insert @FakePeterNowak witticism here)
Veljko Paunovic has been the most frequently-used second striker, until his hamstring issues forced him out of the lineup. He looks to be back in good health, so I’d expect him to be there. However, he tallied just three goals on the season. Danny Mwanga has also recovered from an injury, his being to his right hip. Injuries, and Nowak’s insistence on playing Carlos Ruiz, limited Danny to just 5 goals in his sophomore season. He is a talented and dangerous player when he’s on his game, but I’m unsure that he’ll find his match fitness before the weekend. Jack McInerney netted his only goal of the season early in Union’s 2nd match against Houston.
The point is, while Union’s striker corps is getting healthy, they haven’t shown much, other than Le Toux almost notching a second season of a double-double. They have received contributions from the midfield, but those goals are also scattered among them all, and we never know for certain who is going to start in the midfield (we’ll talk about them tomorrow). For Union to advance out of this round of playoffs, they’re going to have to find the combination that will produce up top. Kinda like Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant surgery.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
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.
RFK Stadium. Saturday night. 7pm. And we will be there.
Yes, this will be the first time the “Unholy Duo” will be attending a road Union match. And we can’t wait.
But to the preview of the match. This is the first league meeting of the season for these two teams, as their previous encounter was in a U.S. Open Cup qualifier (DC won that, on PKs, but whatever, it wasn’t a league match). DC sits 8 points below Union in the standings, but they’ve been in similar form to Union recently, both 1-1-3 in their last 5 matches. DC will welcome Dwayne de Rosario to their team, as he is expected to make his debut in their starting XI. Union fans know how it goes in the first match that a new player is introduced to the team and has little time to train (Ruiz, Paunovic). Hopefully, like Union, United will seem completely out of sorts and be unable to score a goal.
Union seem to be getting over the injection of Paunovic into their lineup. His scoring a goal has stopped me from ripping Union for signing a 33-year-old who had been retired longer than Union have existed. And that the team scored 3 goals in the match was encouraging. The big questions coming in are: Who starts at forward alongside Carlos Ruiz, who starts at right wing midfield if Le Toux is the other forward, and can the defense regain its form after conceding 2 goals last week? Seba made it known that he would like to be a forward only, and he would like Danny Mwanga up top with him. And I think most Union supporters agree. My guess is that Peter Nowak will start Le Toux with Ruiz again, and we’ll see a Farfan on the right wing. The less-certain answer is about the backline. I’m counting on some newcomer disorganization from DC to account for a lack of threats to the Union rearguard this match, but that may obscure the point that these guys are not as good as they were at the season’s outset. Other than Jordan Harvey getting a red card, and being subbed out a few times, the back line has played almost every minute of every match (yes, there was the one time Danny Califf was sick, I know). This may be a point in the season where they need to hit their second wind, so to speak. We’re only half way through the season, so the back four needs to regroup and shut down an opponent in their stadium.
My prediction is that the Union defense can not keep a clean sheet, but the offense will pick up the slack. I see this match ending 2-1 in favor of Union.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
They say draws are like kissing your sister, and I guess that saying is to mean that getting to kiss a girl is good, but that it’s your sister makes it disgusting. Well, this match was kind of like that, if your sister is a transexual.
ALL SEASON WE WANT THEM TO SHOOT MORE AND THEY GET 26 ATTEMPTS ON GOAL WITH NO FRIGGIN GOALS!!! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Ok, I feel a little better now.
Then again, that was the last place team in the Eastern Conference they were facing… I’m going to punch something…
Thus is the maddening back-and-forth we’re left to deal with in this aftermath. They played very well in possession and creating chances. But much of their play was a bit too slow and deliberate which allowed SKC to adjust and defend accordingly. Le Toux and Ruiz worked together better than they had at any point of this season. They combined for many chances on goal, which is great to see. But most of those shots went wide (all of Le Toux’s) and only 1 forced a quality save (Fat Chooch’s free kick). Paunovic started (I should have seen this match ending this way just because of him) and played comfortably in the central attacking midfielder (CAM) role, and didn’t kill the team. But he’s still too old and doesn’t know the team well enough to play at the speed that we need to take advantage of a team that knows it’s inferior and played the entire match hoping for a draw. The defense played solidly and didn’t allow 40-year-old non-virgin Mondragon to be threatened more than once or twice. But that’s because KC played the entire match as if they were more than happy to leave with a point from a scoreless draw. Sheesh.
This should have been the soccer version of the scene in The Godfather when Sonny Corleone meets his end, or at least a re-run of the match vs Toronto FC, but instead we’re left with back-to-back matches against last-place teams yielding just a single point in the standings. And, unlike the aforementioned TFC match, the Union are back to not finding the net. They have no goals this week, with another patsie opponent, Chivas USA, awaiting them Saturday. Granted, leading scorer Danny Mwanga was unavailable due to a knee injury, but with an attack-minded lineup in from the start, I feel the result of this match should have been a foregone conclusion.
I’m on the record, through the YSA Report podcast, as saying that the first 17 matches can be about building the team, and gelling, and all of that hokey pokey nonsense that coaches talk about, but the final 17 are purely about results. Therefore, I won’t rip them for using the experimental lineup that they did, as this was just the 15th match of the season. However, home matches against bottom-feeders shouldn’t result in anything other than wins.
Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
Saturday, 4pm, PPL Park, Chester, PA, ABC, 123, more commas,,,,,
Union are 2-0-1 in their last 3 matches, and RSL lost on Wednesday at Columbus. I would like to say that these trends mean an easy Union win, but that would be short-sighted. Salt Lake is another team with a great defense, much like Union, as they’ve given up only 6 goals in their 11 league matches. Union are pourous by comparison, conceding 10 goals in their 12 league matches. In other words, don’t expect a 6-goal outburst like what we saw in Toronto.
The positives for Union are that they’ve looked better offensively since Carlos Ruiz has not been on the field. This spans that 3-match streak I mentioned above, and it’s far from coincidence. Sure, Toronto FC is a sub-standard soccer club, and Union made them seem exactly that (aside from those moments of lunacy that led to 2 goals being scored against them, but I’ve tried to erase them from my memory…). The real point is that the team has looked better in all phases of attacking soccer with no Fat Chooch in the lineup. Something else to look forward to is Jack McInerney featuring alongside of Danny Mwanga (At least I hope). Jack Mac looked in great form considering his lack of first-team playing time. He almost finished a chance, and created a great chance for the stone-footed Sebastien Le Toux (I cried typing that phrase, but I’m slowly coming to grips with the fact that Seba is not Superman). Union will need the offense to be effective if they plan on not being RSL’s 8th clean sheet.
I mentioned a couple of them before, but now for the negatives. Sebastien Le Toux HAS TO, and I can’t emphasize that enough, HAS TO do better with his first touch so he doesn’t spoil great scoring chances. The way he botched Jack Mac’s through ball was criminal, and it’s really starting to get on my nerves. I understand that he had a great year last season, but his play this season is so disparitly awful that I’m thinking having him come off the bench may not be the worst idea. Set piece defense has also become a black cloud over this Union side. Their ability to stop similar plays during the run of play is what’s made them the Eastern Conference leaders. Their inability to stop those same plays when their opponent initiates from a re-start has cost them points already. It’s not a secret, so I have faith that the coaching staff is working with the team on straightening this deficiency out.
It seems as if their run in the CONCACAF Champions League has taken on toll on the SLC Punks (yes, I had to work in that reference). More than half of their goals conceded have come since losing in that tournament’s final and they only have 1 win in their last 5 matches (1-2-2). The hope for Union is that they’ve caught a normally very strong RSL side in a funk and can secure all 3 points while playing at home. However, I see this match ending in a draw. I’m pretty sure it’ll end 1-1, but would not be surprised to see our first completely scoreless match of the season.
Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
What blogger / tweeter / skeeter hasn’t commented on this yet? Sheanon Williams was outted by his girlfriend on twitter for missing his flight home from Colorado, with Keon Daniel and Danny Mwanga, because they stopped on the way to grab some candy. Philly soccer page has even coined it “Candygate“. Too easy to make a joke.
Me and my coblogger Nick have failed to put up many a post-game report because of procrastination and life getting in the way. This time though? We didn’t see the game. Great work guys…
Speaking of great work, the CFU group of people are bringing CONCACAF to all it’s glory. The pirates of the Caribbean are now being defiant to the ethics investigation that is being conducted on them concerning the Warner / Hammam money fest that I imagined happened similar in style with the Joker in the original Batman, can’t you just hear Prince and the Revolution? But I digress…. Surely the best thing to do when you’re being conducted for breaking codes of ethics, is thumb your noses at the people who will be deciding you fate. Tactful, they are not.
Henry Kissinger is relevant again! Mumblemumblemumble
So I tried to write a touchlines type of article last week on my opinion of the FIFA ethics allegations, and CONCACAF’s complete misuse of all powers… but then I felt like Eric Lindros. That wasn’t good.
- If you didn’t know, President Warner is suspended due to the allegations brought up by the only American Exec Committee Member Chuck Blazer. Acting president from caribbean Lisle Austin asks for explanation. Blazer says “fuck off, you’re still being told what to do by Warner, I’m telling AGAIN”. Austin says “Bullshit, you’re fired”. Everyone else with REAL power in CONCACAF says “You can’t do that”. Blazer says “Fuck that shit”. Austin says “No really, you’re fired. I’m not listening to anything more now. LALALA” Those same people again get together and ban Austin saying “You’re inept, fuck off”. Austin says “You can’t do that” but does nothing. Then Gold Cup happens.
- you see what i mean?
Connor Casey’s a douche.
The Gold Cup has started, and Ruiz has not produced once again for the team he is on while playing the full 90 minutes. They did however tie the game while down 2 men… Coincidence? Or drug cartels. You decide.
Did this fill your sweet tooth? Or just leave you craving for more?
This has been a halfassed version of Touchlines.
Who: Union and Fire What: MLS soccer league match Where: PPL Park, Chester, PA When: Saturday, May 21 @ 8pm. Why: Because the schedule says so.
The only question left is “how,” as in how in the heck will Union finally find a way to score some goals?!?!?!? They even tried sitting Carlos Ruiz last match, in favor of the normal starting forwards from last season, Danny Mwanga and Sebastien Le Toux, and it STILL didn’t work. Not only did they not score goals, but they conceded their most goals in a game this season. Back to old drawing board.
The Chicago Fire have found success playing a 4-1-4-1 in recent matches. This means that Union will, likely, go back to playing “bunker soccer.” Coach Nowak will have his normal starting back line, and he’ll have two defensive midfielders cozy up to them. There will be no such repeat of last match’s relative defensive debacle, if Nowak has anything to say about it (which he does because, you know, he’s the manager and all). I’d also expect to see Keon Daniel and Justin Mapp starting on the wings this match. Last match against Dallas was Justin Mapp’s best performance of the season, and that will convince Nowak to start him, in spite of the evidence from the rest of the season that he’s purely not the right kind of player for this team. And, since I’m already jaded about the starting XI, I’m conceding that my friend and yours, Fat Chooch, will be in at the start. He’ll be up top with Le Toux, who will look confused by everything Ruiz does, as if Carlos is some guy who just walked onto the field and says he knows how to play.
I see this match being pretty ugly. I think we’re going to see Union in a defensive shell for the first half-hour. Chicago will create the better chances, but the back line will do the job they’ve done for the entire season, save for one game. They’ll likely go scoreless into half-time, which will prompt Nowak to get his “kitchen sink” substitutions ready. Mwanga, Jack McInerney, and Roger Torres will likely be introduced at various points, in an attempt to actually get shots on net and maybe even a goal. Unfortunately, until this team proves me wrong with their offense, I expect this match to end in a draw, and I wouldn’t rule out the score being 0-0.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
When: Friday, May 6, @ 10:30pm EST. Where: JELD-WEN Field, Portland, OR
First off, I had to wikipedia why the stadium has such a strange name. The naming rights were sold to the Jeld-Wen Corporation, a manufactuer of building supplies. The team has built quite a reputation in a short time in Major League Soccer (like what I did there?). They were undefeated at their oddly-named home stadium prior to this week, and are probably looking to rebound after losing to San Jose, the team that Union beat last week playing down a man for 50 minutes (that’s right, you suck, San Jose).
Portland features 3 players with mulitple goals on the season: Kenny Cooper, Jack Jewsbury, and Jorge Perlaza. So, those are the 3 guys that will get shut down by Union’s back line Friday night, even though they will be without the services of Jordan Harvey. I expect Michael Farfan to get the start at left back, and he should do a fine job. Cooper is somewhat of a concern because of his height. At 6’3″, he’ll have to have the full attention of Union’s D when around the box. Kalif Alhassan seems to be their most threatening playmaker, with 4 assists on the season. He plays left wing midfield, which means Sheanon Williams will shut him down, then awe him with the distance he gets on his throw-ins.
Now, for the stuff we care about. Union will be without Jordan Harvey, as they will not appeal the suspension for his red card, undeserved as it was. Michael Farfan linked so well with Keon Daniel on the left side of the field that I don’t foresee any trouble with having Farfan get this spot-start. That may be the most exciting part of the lineup, though. I fully expect there to be 2 defensive midfielders in the lineup to start, some combination of Brian Carroll, Stefani Miglioranzi, and Amobi Okugo. I’m not exactly sure what failed experiment Nowak’s going to try at right wing this week. Roger Torres is not a winger, so he’s out. The heck with it, just keep Le Toux there, and play Mwanga and Ruiz up top to start.
The concerning part for Union is that Danny Califf is not guaranteed to play due to illness. We may find out whether or not Juan Diego Gonzalez is, in fact, still with Union. Either way, though, Daniel can probably play it because he seems to just be that good, and Okugo played centerback for the Generation Addidas team. That situation bears some monitoring. We all should continue to have faith in Faryd Mondragon to keep whoever is in front of him coordinated and playing the right way. The games are the same night, but I think the Flyers could really use The Dragon in goal. There is no way he would have let Chris Versteeg be skating around in la-la land while Zdeno Chara winds up a wide-open slap shot for a goal. What would have happened is that Mondragon would have made the save, held the puck for a faceoff, then spent the next 20 seconds bitching Versteeg out for being defensively irresponsible. From watching him, he seems like a very intimidating guy, so he probably would have made Versteeg cry. And at that point, Mike Richards would have just skated over, ripped the “C” off of his sweater, and handed it over to Mondragon. I don’t think, even in my side tangent fantasy land, that it’s a stretch to say that Faryd is the best captain in Philadelphia sports. He will be the reason Union earn a point on this trip, and I predict a draw, 1-1. Union score in the first half on a counter attack, and will concede in the last 15 minutes after a bad call by the ref gives Portland a free kick from a dangerous area, and we will spend the rest of the weekend hating MLS officials, again.
Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
First things first: The straight-red to Jordan Harvey was easily the most egregious mistake a referee has made this season. There was an atmosphere that the match was getting chippy, with several yellow cards given, and even in that climate, what Harvey did should only have been a free kick. It didn’t even merit a yellow, let alone a red. I’ve said my piece.
The match itself was confusing on several fronts. Why was it that Union played more fluidly and posessed more confidently with one fewer man on the field than their opponent? And, why can they not notch a goal with a decidedly more offensive lineup on the pitch? Union are winning a lot of games with him, but is Carlos Ruiz a good thing for this club?
The second half was textbook soccer. The ball was moved interchangeably between the fullbacks and the wide midfielders, and the forwards did well to keep the team’s progressive possession going forward. They really deserved a goal from the run of play, but given the personnel deficit, the three points was deserved no matter how earned. Michael Farfan had a great debut for the first team, working seemlessly with Keon Daniel along the left flank, both playing with speed and confidence. Stefani Miglioranzi did good defensive work in tandem with Amobi Okugo to keep San Jose’s attack looking severely disjointed. The other side of Union’s possession’s merits is that they were also able to keep their opponents from establishing any rythym.
I was elated to see on Facebook that Roger Torres was in the starting midfield with Okugo, Daniel, and Sebastien Le Toux. I had a moment like Adam Sandler in Airheads (this is a soggy dream come true!). That was about as impressive as the formation got; it struggled to create any threatening offense. I think Okugo led the team in shots, which would be fine if he wasn’t a defensive midfielder. I know Danny Mwanga is very talented, but even Okugo mentioned in his post-match interview that he was being told by friends and family that “you can’t score if you don’t shoot.” We need to put Okugo’s friends and family in touch with Mr. Mwanga. And Seba. And Choochito (I want that to mean Little Chooch, like he’s not good enough to have a big boy nickname yet).
That Little Fish guy is a somewhat fascinating case. Many have already cast him off as slow and lazy. I think he still has no clue how to play with this group of players. I think more time is needed to bring the rest of the starters up to speed on the way Fishy thinks, and what he believes he does best to make this team better. The play that stands out to me was where Mwanga was in a shooting position so Fishy positioned himself on the offsides line to anticipate pouncing on a potential rebound. Instead, Mwanga passed it to Ruiz, who made himself covered by aligning himself with the defender instead of shielding him off. See above: you can’t score if you don’t shoot. Get it straightened out, fellas.
San Jose has struggled this season. Much of the pregame talk centered around their manager changing nearly half of his starters for this match, in an effort to spur his team to better form. As we saw, that didn’t happen. This leads me to my last question: Are teams just not playing well early in the season, or does Union’s defense MAKE them play that poorly? The match against RBNY was similar in that they looked disjointed here, yet they went to DC not long after and looked like the best team in the league. Many conclude that Union’s record is a product of their weak early schedule, but I’m beginning to think the credit may lie more with the Union’s defense not allowing teams to become offensively comfortable.