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.
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
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
In an effort to cure boredom, and lack of content on the blog, Nick and myself are going to pick a set of 5 games weekly. Naturally, being a degenerate gambler, I had to make sure that something was in it for the victor. So – the one dollar wager is on!
The rules are simple – 4 games a week are free to choose, and the 5th pick of the week will be that week’s Union game (if there is no Union game, we pick a different game). Only the final outcome of the match will matter, not any predicted score. So if we say Union win 5-1, but only win 1-0, the point is still ours. Scores will only be used for a possible tie-breaker. Whoever has the most points at the end of the season will have bragging rights – which won’t matter because Nick will still say (rightfully) he has more knowledge than I do.
DK: Vancouver vs Montreal – Impact, what impact. Montreal is new. Vancouver has a team set, and with the prime addition of Le toux will likely come out on top in this match. I don’t think Montreal is ready enough as a team, and won’t be so until mid season (prove me wrong). Vancouver 2-0
NY: Vancouver vs Montreal??? What is this, the National Hockey League? Beat it with this two-teams-from-north-of-the-border nonsense. This is the only game that I chose to look at different than yours. I’m looking at RBNY @ FC Dallas. This game is about the late-season charging Pink Cows against Brek Shea and company. I see this one ending in a draw. Henry will be in form after a surprisingly successful return run with Arsenal, and Brek Shea will want to produce for his club team before he gets shipped off to try to win his country a medal.
DK: I don’t need your damn hassle.
DK: DC vs KC – What can’t you say about KC? They’re going to look to try to match and even top last season’s success – and they are road tested from last year (albeit to a fault). It’s the season opener, and getting the first win on the road will set them apart from the rest of the eastern conference quickly – as that often became the downside for East coast teams (with the new format though, expect this to change). Unless DC can get De Rosario to break out with multiple goals, KC is looking like the victor. 2-1 KC.
NY: Sporting were very impressive once they actually got to play games in a consistent venue. The question is: did KC benefit from playing at their comfy, new home, or did they benefit from the fact that no one in their right mind would enjoy visiting Kansas City? I’m not sold either way. The only problem is that DeRo is really the only bullet in the DC gun, which I expect to be shooting blanks in this first week. SKC ftw.
DK: LA vs RSL – LA is coming off a CCL quarterfinal match on Wednesday, although being the number one team in the league – RSL is well rested and not one to take lightly. LA will have the home crowd and the start of a new season behind them, but their minds may still be on the CCL. I’ll predict RSL to take advantage of fresh legs and win 2-1
NY: Galaxy did, indeed, already play this week, but I see this as a good thing. I think it has put them in a rhythm, which I expect to carry over to this game. It’s the beginning of the season, therefore I don’t see the heavy schedule running the players down too much. It would be a big problem 2 months from now, but the team is fresh at present. I expect LA to win this game, but probably just 1-0 because RSL is no slouch defensively.
DK: Chivas vs Houston – I took an easy pick, sue me. Chivas can easily be described as a bottom feeder team. Houston’s only fault may be under-estimating them at Chivas’ home. Although, one can be a welcome mat for only so long – but I don’t expect things to change that drastically anytime soon. Houston 2-0.
NY: Shockingly, I’m going to agree with DK. This also saddens me. Any thought of Houston taking a team lightly during their season-opening match will be doused with the memory of Danny Califf netting the game’s only goal in 2011’s season-opening match. I, also, think Houston will win 2-0.
Portland vs Union
DK: 1-1 tie. Portland gave Cooper to RBNY in the offseason, and Union lost a lot of franchise stars. This will likely be an even matchup – even though the addition of attack minded players will help the Union, Nowak is obviously going to play a tight defensive strategy to counteract any plausible success. Expect the inevitable confusion between players in the lineup.
NY: I pick this as a loss for the U. Too much change among the personnel responsible for scoring goals. Freddy Adu is being depended on heavily for leadership, but he hasn’t played with this team long, and seemed, at times, to be at odds with teammates during matches. He has had the training time with his team now, but I wonder if they can gel early enough to get a win in a venue with dreaded narrow pitch. Such a field was their undoing in Houston’s Robertson Stadium, where they couldn’t find the space and couldn’t play the aerial game. They were forced to pass vertically and deep, which lead to choppy possession and not enough goals. Unfortunately, I expect more of the same in this one. I ABSOLUTELY hope both myself and DK are wrong and Union win this match 5-0, but I’m very skeptical of the moves Nowak has made during this offseason and need to be shown by the team that they know how to win.
1: Vancouver over Montreal 2-0
2: KC over DC 2-1
3: RSL over LA 2-1
4: Houston over Chivas 2-0
Union : Tie
Pick 1: RBNY / FCD Tie
Pick 2: KC over DC 2-0
Pick 3: LA over RSL 1-0
Pick 4: Houston over Chivas 2-0
It’s been just over 2 weeks since Union’s 2011 season came to an end at Robertson Stadium in Houston, TX. That doesn’t mean that I’m any less bitter about the confusing tactics by Peter Nowak that I believe are most responsible for Houston Dynamo advancing. It’s also the reason that it’s taken so long for me to write my final post of the season. Technically, it IS still the MLS season, as Houston plays LA Galaxy in the Home Depot Center for MLS (RBNY-Will-Never-Win-This) Cup. So, before the season expires officially, I figure it was time that I come to grips with Union’s season.
It started with the nromal pre-season mix of question marks and anxiety, mixed with anticipation, that accompanies each sport’s season. It’s a popular baseball saying that “hope springs eternal” as a play-on-words because their sport begins in the spring, as does soccer in the United States. In similar fashion, it felt like hope was springing eternally for this Union side. We saw their potential coming through the end of year 1, and felt like the additional time spent in training was going to make them a decidedly improved team.
But first place? Not even I saw that coming. Not that I’m the most kool-aid-drinking Union fan out there, but I felt really good about the team. I just didn’t see them taking the league by storm out of the gate, winning in a Tim-Tebow-esque manner (not looking competent, but winning nonetheless). They took advantage of teams making the same mistakes Union had the previous season. It was extremely enjoyable being able to chant things like “We’re top of the table” to opposing fans on two levels. 1) It’s a positive chant that doesn’t involve profanity so it’s great when you can be PG-rated and still make the oppositions’ fans angry, and 2) The utter shock they must have all felt that they were hearing it from fans of a 2nd year franchise that finished 3rd-to-last place in year 1.
They did come back down to earth, though. Le Toux took forever to score the way we knew he could. Nowak constantly confused us with his lineups. The rest of the league got better as the season went on. Sporting KC got to actually play home matches. All of these things contributed to Union dropping in the standings, even to the point that they were outside of playoff position. Those are the times that test the resolve of the fanbase. No one knew how this mostly young team would respond to this period of adversity, what with the defense being exposed and the offense not rounding into the form we’d hoped for. Then the captain broke a finger making a save.
The resurgence was nothing short of amazing. I didn’t give Zac MacMath a lot of credit to start out with because of our checkered history with University of Maryland goalkeepers (yes, I mean Chris Seitz). And then the first half of the New England match happened. The only silver lining I could find for Zac was that he didn’t give up any more goals after he put them in a seemingly no-win situation. Little did I know at the time that that second half would become a momentum-generating event in getting this team back into winning. They scored 3 second-half goals, and kept New England out of the net all while playing a very stretched attacking style that left massive counter attacking opportunities all over. The team grew in offensive confidence, and in confidence in their deputy ‘keeper. The defense seemed to regain their early-season form as a response to not having Faryd Mondragon’s commanding voice behind them. It was a period that righted the ship and steered it towards the postseason.
Zac Mac’s time in goal was short-lived in 2011, but the fire was lit. The Union finished strongly enough to qualify for the #3 spot in the Eastern Conference. That is a remarkable achievement for a 2nd-year franchise built on youth. A lot of the players we’ve leaned on are not used to playing this many games in a season against full-grown men; veteran professionals. They had a couple of chances to gain a better playoff position, but the draw in the home finale against Toronto FC and the loss to RBNY didn’t dampen the euphoria of making the playoffs.
They were matched with Houston Dynamo, a team that Union had not lost to in their brief history (2 wins, 2 draws). So, it SEEMED like the ideal matchup to allow Union to play loose. However, it lead to questionable starting lineups and two 1-goal losses in the 2-leg playoff round, which sent Union home for the season. I may never understand why Nowak put two starting lineups out that he had not used at any point of the regular season. I understand that you can’t use the same guys every single game, but the playoffs are not a time for a 4-4-2 team to put out a 5-3-2 and a 4-2-4. I don’t even want to type any more about it because I want to remember the Union season as being a successful one. They improved from 31 points in 2010, to 48 points in 2011. Sebastien Le Toux proved that he wasn’t a 1-season wonder. Danny Califf showed that he’s a great leader even without the Captain’s armband. And, most importantly, this group has developed a hard-working, physically-defensive style that will hopefully keep them in the playoffs for years to come.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
Tonight, 8:30 pm from Robertson Stadium in Houston, TX or on ESPN2 for those of us who aren’t flying to the match.
There isn’t a whole lot that needs to be said about this. The teams have played 3 times this season. They know how each other is going to play. It comes down to execution. In the first match, we were wary of Brad Davis’ free kick ability, and that produced the match’s first goal. They knew that Sebastien Le Toux was a constant threat purely by his work ethic, and that produced the second goal. We know playing Stefani Miglioranzi is a tactic that confuses even his own defensive teammates, and that confusion produced the third and final goal of the match. Union figure to deploy a lineup that more closely resembles the team that finished the match Sunday. The only possible addition to the lineup I can see is if Veljko Paunovic is fully healthy, then Nowak will go with him. Either way, I expect an ambush from the opening whistle. I really feel like Nowak’s message to the team will be to tie the aggregate up in the first half and end the half that way, and worry about the 2nd goal in the 2nd half so they don’t burn themselves out and concede a goal after working hard to tie it.
Fans of the team would like to see Union play this first half the same way that they played the 2nd half in their 2nd match against New England (3 goals scored). I figure I’m going to be a nervous wreck watching Union fight and scratch and claw their way through this match, but I’m fairly certain this will be a fantastic match to watch for neutral observers.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
Thankfully, for Union fans, this round is 2-legged. My overall feeling about Sunday’s first leg against Houston Dynamo is that they were doomed from the announcement of their starting lineup, yet put up a great effort, worthy of leaving PPL Park with a zero goal deficit. The inclusion of Stefani Miglioranzi in the starting XI was borderline criminal, and responsible for their minus-one differential. He is an injury or suspension fill-in, at best. There are no logical tactics that should include him in a starting role. He’s not a 90-minute player, he’s not fast, and he’s not even above-average for an MLS player. Inevitably, Nowak would have to sub for him, which isn’t a tactical sub because it’s necessary. I would rather see Juan Diego Gonzalez in Thursday’s match than Miglioranzi, and JDG hasn’t played a single minute in MLS play this season. The difference is I KNOW Miglioranzi hurts this team (Adam Hainault agrees with me).
The positive outlook is that Union were able to threaten Houston’s defense, which had conceded just 3 goals in their previous 5 matches. There was luck involved in Sebastien Le Toux’s goal, as the pass deflected off of the back of the head of a helpless Houston defender. But there was also luck involved in Houston’s first goal (well, their luck was that Nowak started Migs. Oh wait, I’m supposed to be positive in this paragraph). The substitutions were all positive. They created several opportunities for goals, but their inexperience showed. Jack McInerney, for all of his willingness to get forward on well-timed runs, needs to realize that sometimes he needs to be on the ball-side of his defender because he’s not going to win headers too often. Roger Torres, for all of his willingness to play the nicely-weighted through-ball to a surging teammate, needs to realize that his teammates don’t always see the game the way he does (although they friggin should). Freddy Adu, for all of his experience internationally, needs to realize that he is still the new guy on the team and he has much to learn about how his teammates play. McInerney was certainly hurt by his lack of playing time (damn you, Fat Chooch!), and it showed in the waning moments of the match. A little more sophistication in his game probably finds him in a better position to attack the ball and put more threatening shots on goal. Roger finally learned to drop deeper in the midfield to be the conduit from defense to offense. Playing in that manner with Adu also on the field should lead to a more consistent and potent offense (all in due time. I hope this happens Thursday night, but I’m not counting on it).
The best thing to come out of Sunday’s 2-1 defeat is that we have learned Michael Farfan and Seba can step up to the big moment and perform in the playoffs. Their play combining for the response in the 7th minute shows that Seba is not a fluke, and Marfan has cemented himself in the starting XI for the foreseeable future. Speaking of Farfans and positives, Union are very lucky that Gabe was not issued a red card for his wreckless challenge on Danny Cruz. I think the yellow card was the correct decision, especially given that it’s a playoff game and the teams get more levity to play and compete hard. I have no refereeing experience, but if Garfan had been issued a straight red card, I would not have argued it. I would have been really upset at Garfan for the challenge, instead. It was an aerial cross to a stationary winger. Cruz was not making a run behind Garfan, therefore there was no urgent need to win THAT particular pass. If anything, by playing proper body position, Garfan could have easily dispossessed Cruz after Cruz’ first touch on that pass. Worst-case, Houston has the ball on the wing at the foot of someone not named Brad Davis, therefore, it’s not Houston’s most-threatening position. All of that being said, Garfan also did well to compete hard and not pick up a second yellow, so Union’s comeback attempts did not have to come a man down. And he is eligible for Thursday’s match. Which is a positive because….
….it’s one less possibility that Stefani Miglioranzi starts… you knew I was coming back to that, didn’t you.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
…Which is the obvious lead-in to the analysis of the midfield matchup. From my previous posts, and ANY playoff preview you may have read over the past few days, you’ve seen the name Brad Davis. He is the left wing midfielder for Houston Dynamo. He lead the league this season in assists. He’s pretty damn good. The rest of the Houston midfielders, meh, I think they’re just on the pitch to transition the ball from defense-to-Davis.
The Union midfield, I think, will be Justin Mapp, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan, and……. I don’t know. Should be Roger Torres. Could be Freddy Adu. I still think Nowak wants to suit up. However, I will hate Coach if he starts a second defensive midfielder. The home game, I’m hoping, will be the game Nowak sees as his better opportunity to score goals and come out with a more attack-minded lineup. If they win this first game by 2 or more goals, only then will I not hate Nowak for going with a defensive lineup in the second leg. I know it’s great to have defensively responsible players on the pitch, but the best way to keep the ball out of your net is to keep it nearer to your opponent’s net. Besides, Roger Torres has become much better at winning the ball back in the midfield after turnovers. His skilled feet and field vision will be tremendous assets with Marfan and Mapp on the wings. From this blog to Nowak’s ears….
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
The biggest threat Houston Dynamo poses to Union is Brad Davis. He is the league leader in assists, with 16. He is a left-footed left wing midfielder, which means the responsibility of locking him down will fall primarily on Sheanon Williams. This will be the one matchup that I will be completely intrigued with for the duration of the match, both legs of it. Davis is a player who has not been able to prove himself on the international level, and Sheanon is someone we have been campaigning for to get a shot with the USMNT (if Michael Orozco Fiscal got a shot, why the hell not?!?!?). My prediction is that a stellar defensive showing, coupled with intelligent play going forward, will earn “The Sheanomenon” enough credibility to get him a look. The playoffs will bring more intensity than Union have played with all season, or in their history, for that matter. The hightened stage will provide a better indicator to the people who run USA Soccer as to whether or not Sheanon deserves consideration. It also helps his cause that Timmy Chandler was moved from right back to left back and seems slated to stay there in the future (wiiiiiiiiiide open door for ya, Sheanon). Davis provides the perfect foil because of the quantity AND quality of his service (for MLS purposes only). He will be prominently featured in Houston’s offense, and his crosses into the center of the pitch are usually threatening. He is the “head of the snake,” so to speak. Cut off the head, and the body will follow. Hopefully, Sheanon is sharp enough to make the cut (ending with terrible pun, athankya).
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.