Philadelphia’s recent visit to Kansas City has ended, once again, in a 1-1 tie. This wasn’t a weak tie like earlier in the year, as KC was a real formidable attacking opponent, and both teams had a decent amount of chances. I for one considered this a must win, because it’s better to win now and tie later in such a tight eastern conference race, but various others considered this game a can’t lose considering how well KC has been playing, and we didn’t lose. Which is a plus.
As I have a friend who works at LiveStrong Park, I took the liberty of asking his opinion of the game, which I will rebut / comment on, etc. (PS- he used to be from PA and got a job out there, so he’s fairly unbiased in some senses)
“I thought it was a rather even game from both teams. If I had to say, Sporting Kansas City probably played a little better overall and in different stretches of the game but the Union were able to get Sporting out of their comfort zone of playing the attacking, offensive game they’re used to. Keeping the ball away from the front three of Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, and Omar Bravo was how the Philadelphia Union were able to get the draw. Sporting had more chances to score but Philadelphia had better chances to score and that sort of evened things out for both. Both teams played much better than the first time they met in June where the Union pretty much went on a shooting rampage and had nothing to show for it due to a lack of finishing and Jimmy Nielsen. This game, the Union were able to get better chances and were better at finishing or getting in that position to finish while the Defense showed up for Sporting
Where the refereeing has been pretty erratic in MLS this season, I thought it was a semi-fairly called game. I know there will be some Sporting fans who will say that there were some calls that didn’t go our way near the end of the game but it was like that for both teams. From my vantage point, we got away with a few also. I noticed there were stretches where everything was getting called and other times where nothing was getting called. Personally, I like to see them play on as much as possible and see things be physical from both sides but that sort of inconsistency can’t be good for the players trying to guess what kind of mood the ref is in. Definitely thought it was one of the more cleaner games of the season which was good because it was a very physical game. “
Interjection – As he says the officiating was fairly decent, as the ref let the players play on for the most part and tried not to influence the game too much with calling fouls, but there are quite a few moments that Kei Kamara had lost his temper and could have been booked for dissent to the officials (he wasn’t saying “Golly” or “Fargle” if you know what I’m saying) and kicked the ball away in pure disgust clear after the whistle had blown, which is counted as dissent AND time wasting and would count for another booking. Guy needs some anger management. Back to the KC analysis
“Sebastien Le Toux definitely was the star of the game and probably the season for the Union. I haven’t been able to see many Union games this season and I have mainly heard of his play but seeing Le Toux play last night, he definitely is that sort of Striker that you can depend on getting a goal and lifting a team on his shoulders when it’s needed. I also want to commend the Sons of Ben and the Union fans who were at the stadium. I was sitting underneath their section at the tunnel but they were definitely the most vocal and loudest visiting group who has come to Livestrong Sporting Park and we only have two more MLS regular season home games versus Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls. There were definitely more Seattle Sounders and L.A. Galaxy fans at those games when they were here but they were really only vocal after they scored. The Sons of Ben kept it up the entire game and at times, it was hard to hear the Cauldron on the other side of the stadium. I honestly think the Cauldron and the Sons of Ben are two of the best supporters groups in MLS and the Sporting KC and Union fans some of the best fans in MLS. It’s easy to be a Galaxy or Sounders fan when they’re always the top of the standings, are always on national TV, and have guys named Beckham and Donovan on their team. It’s much harder to be a Sporting KC fan when we were last in the East earlier this season and harder to be a Union fan when they were battling their scoring drought and were underachieving earlier this season.
All in all, the result definitely hurt Sporting Kansas City more than the Philadelphia Union. The draw puts Sporting in a tie for 1st with Columbus and Philadelphia in 3rd a point behind both with a game up. That extra game is the key for the Union and gives them a major advantage when it comes to obtaining 1st Place in the Eastern Conference especially when Sporting plays Columbus Wednesday night. I can imagine just with the body language around the team, Columbus is a must win if Sporting wants to think about 1st place in the East and be more comfortable in the top three. To those Union fans who visited LIVESTRONG Sporting Park for the game, I hope you had a good time. I know you’ll probably want to say PPL Park is a better stadium but this place is definitely one of the best places to see a Soccer game.”
Much of what my friend said was true. Late in the game KC finally got an attacking situation going, and was able to start getting Kamara into the game on the wings, which is probably much of why he was getting so frustrated, not at the refs but at our defense. Califf and Valdes must have really been giving him the business. Valdes was authoritative, and does what he often does to confuse fans since he’s a defender, but he was acting more like a counterattacking midfielder with how far up the field he was playing the ball.
Torres is classic Torres and has a keen ability with crossing the ball forward at the right pace for everyone. With how well he’s been playing, it’s frustrating that he wasn’t put in as a starter earlier in the year.
Paunovic was almost non-existent. With his breakout games when he first started, gotta wonder what happened with him. Still love the guy, but he took on Le Toux’s bad touch it seems.
Le Toux has his touch back, and all is right with the world. He had a few chances at sharp angles that a world class striker would have made, but the issue is not his shooting (and how many shots he does take) but it used to be his first touch. Michael Farfan made a beautiful save of Torres’ cross to prevent a goal kick, tapped it to Le Toux who taps it in. Earlier in the year, I don’t think Le2 would have made that goal.
Gabe Farfan is not a defender and let Bravo through on Kamara’s beautiful cross. There was almost no way for MacMath to save that. But, Gabe is still a better option than Nakazawa at back, who was getting burnt every time the ball was near him. Within 5 minutes the positioning was switched, Gabe fell back and Naka went forward, which is a much better option, as Naka was then close to non existent.
Carroll is a beauty still, and Okugo needs to show more of a presence than he has been.
With our flaws, it was a well skilled match from both sides, and either team could have taken the lead at any given moment.
Now, the ill-fated – STANDINGS
As it stands now (as of 6:56 pm on Saturday) Houston Dynamo has beaten FC Dallas and have taken claim of the number 1 spot in the Eastern Conference. Columbus and KC are now tied for 2nd place at 41 points, and we are now in 4th place in the East, holding the 3rd wildcard spot with 40 points, Portland is 37 and holds the 4th spot.
Situational Next upcoming games:
DC plays RSL. They are currently close to contention, but with a win can be competitive.
Columbus plays LA and can reclaim the top position before playing KC this coming Wednesday. A win both game will probably put them as the number 1 spot for the end of the season.
NY plays Portland. NY is at 36 points and Portland is at 37. This currently is for the 4th wildcard spot, but Portland can come up and tie the Union with points if they win this game.
Colorado holds the 2nd playoff spot at 41 points, and is playing San Jose. Probably a win there, but it’s good to know that we aren’t far off from some security.
So, sadly enough, we are rooting for RSL, LA, and a draw in Jersey. I may or may not update after tonight’s results.
|Sporting Kansas City||41||30||6|
|Wild Card Race||PTS||GP||GD|
|New York Red Bulls||36||29||3|
I was going to make the title “Making Canada our bitch” but it’s a bit too long of a title. So generic title you get.
Result – Union 6!!!!! TFC – 2
Where has this team been? That’s all I have to ask. Where in God’s name has this team been? Everything went right, except for Le Toux’s touch. There’s so much elation I don’t know where to begin…
The 300 pound gorilla in the room …
Carlos Ruiz was benched and sat for this game. I know plenty of people are rejoicing on this, and are making a statement that because he was not there, this opened up the center channel for our attack. I would have to reiterate that until recently, with or without Ruiz, we HAD no attack. And if we did, it wasn’t a very good one anyway.
Clearly with Ruiz going to be gone due to national duties during the Gold Cup, Nowak wanted the team to have confidence to play without him. What better of a team to do that with than the beaten stepchild of TFC – bottom of the table, most shots against on goal, just…terrible. And they are canadians. The one way to work on this is clearly to change the strategy of the bucket defense, and create an attacking soccer mentality in a 4-1-3-2 formation with Carroll being the only defensive midfielder. This clearly worked as our midfielders were the ones scoring (not even our strikers!). Why can’t they do that even if Ruiz was there?
I’ve been asking all season, before and after his injury – where is Justin Mapp. He answered with a flash of genius in Dallas, then proved that he is actually awake when playing Chicago, and suddenly he breaks out saying “Shut up bitch” by getting 2 amazing goals from distance. Key word – from distance. Most everything about his, and the team’s play was brilliant.
Not only that, someone else who has taken a liking of not shooting when he needs to also scored from distance, Naka-naka-nakazawa. He started to shoot a bit last week, I’m sure it was in spite of the YSA podcast saying ‘he has a deer in headlights mentality to an open lane shot’ (a collaborative “your welcome” on behalf of Union Dues) and this week he puts a beauty in on goal. About time is all I have to say.
The Wonder Twins
No real critique, I just wanted to say the wonder twins. A week after M gets a goal, G comes up with his own in the first 2 minutes of play. That’s right, 2 minutes. For those that missed the first few minutes due to grilling or getting a beer, you have poor timing.
Strikers – lack there of
I don’t know about you, but when a team is able to decimate a team (worthy of decimating) by playing attacking soccer, and the first 4 goals scored in open play are with midfielders and not strikers, that’s saying something. Le Toux, the 400 pound gorilla (bigger than Ruiz) is still loved, and dare I critique him, be it either the pressure of not scoring, the pressure of defense (that I don’t see at all), or just a fluke of a year with the club (work rate aside) he should probably have also sat this game, or at least be subbed out. With a chance to exclamate our route over TFC he cleared the ball point blank over the post in the final seconds of the 1st half.
On points brought up – there seems as though there is a lot of pressure for him to score. About last year being a fluke, 11 games in and his only goal is a PK, he can’t (nor hardly ever) get a set piece on frame. His personal pressure must be so tough that he’s rushing an open sided net goal that he should have just tapped in and makes it soar.
Is he a defensive mark for other teams – well, considering last year he should be. Considering his first touch this year, he should be more so as represented by the terrible giveaway that lead to TFC’s 2nd goal in the 2nd half. His workrate and freedom to move around the field the main defense against him as he runs all the way to the backline, and when on an offensive counter has to double time to get up to a playable position for the ball, which by that time in most other games, gets dribbled into a failed attempt, or goes out for a goal kick. He did however have a brilliant start for the play that lead to the Kyle Nakazawa goal, but all in all he is just amounting himself to be the favorite son of Philly, and that’s that in my view. All in all, I have no problems with Mwanga not “sharing” a practical open net goal to Le Toux, I have a feeling he would have aired it over the net.
I got nothing. TFC is a terrible team, and anytime there isn’t a primary focus and ’decent’ analysis by me on the defense the better, which means we controlled the game for the most part. 2 main breaks – beginning of the 2nd half:
What was Mondragon doing? That was the worst decision he’s made. Yes he may have been beat if he stayed in goal since the team seemed to feel great about the lead and let that ball get through, but when a goalie goes out that far outside the box, he has to make damn sure he gets the ball. He really hung himself out to dry there in the end.
2nd goal – giveaway by Le Toux – you really can’t blame the defense on this one. Le toux just gave it up and that caused everyone to become flatfooted with no time to recover to make a good attempt at their impersonation of the iron curtain.
What to take away from this game
We can score.
We’re a good enough team to know that the games we should win, against the lower rankings, we can with force.
We can play attacking soccer.
We can score. Oh lordy we can score.