I first want to start off with a little personal note. I am a casual soccer fan by trade. I know the very big names in EPL, and maybe some in La Liga, and that’s about it. When I found soccer on TV I could easily watch it, and not have to root for anyone. I enjoyed watching it. This started in 2006 when watching the world cup. Needless to say, being that this is America, I never really watched that much soccer on TV in between then and 2010. When I heard that Philadelphia was getting a team, I was excited. For starters, this was a sport I enjoyed and wanted to play (goalkeeper) when I was young, and the idea of a brand new team when I’m fully able to watch from the beginning excited me.
I was not an original season ticket holder. Didn’t have the money, and generally never had that ‘drive’ to invest in something as such. Naturally, the 2010 season changed that mind. Maybe it helped with the World Cup being on and watching every single game, while at work, and at a bar on weekends, helped carry it over. Meeting some Sons of Ben at the bars (specifically Tommy Roletter, fellow la salle alumn during a viewing of USA vs Australia pre world cup) helped peek my interest. The team itself showed promise in its first year – aside from a multitude of mistakes and divots, and it was invigorating. I saw 3 games that year, once from 101, another from 121, and another in the river end. All were exciting and convinced me, mostly due to the atmosphere created by THE FANS, to purchase season tickets for 2011. It even got me started in writing a blog which I (or my coworker Nick, I forget which one of us started the idea) took to a coworker who also enjoyed watching the Union (and all Philly sports) and started towards the end of the 2010 season. I had also went out on a limb by myself, fronting for 3 tickets, only one claimed for – mine. Everyone I had brought enjoyed themselves and wanted to come again. And 2011 was a great year, and during this off season – even with a plethora of rumors – next season showed more potential than Adu at 15 years old.
Now though? There’s a dark cloud hanging over the Union, and we all know why.
There’s no need to get into the whole Le Toux thing… by now, if you follow anything Union oriented on Twitter you know that he was trialing at Bolton – we didn’t know why. Many of us assumed he got a call and wanted to play in the EPL. More power to him. Then, suddenly, we get rumors on Monday (yesterday, or as I’m writing after midnight 2 days ago) that he is going to Vancouver. Bolton fans, Bolton management, and someone in Vancouver stating this. Needless to say Monday night we were confused. Then, confusion became a sudden convulsion as to why when Le Toux himself confirmed it in a tweet, before either team or MLS of the transfer. This confusion turned into outrage to the point where we were all just repeating ourselves. It didn’t make sense. How could it. For what could we possibly be getting for not only our franchise, not only our sponsor (and league wide face for said sponsor), but our star player? Money and an international spot? Draft picks? Money and draft picks? Someone else?
Only money. Undisclosed, as the norm for MLS (needless to say Union as well).
Okay, we’ll give Nowak the benefit of the doubt. He’s proven us wrong on many occasions (except for Migz)… maybe we will put this to good use.
They changed their player profile for their facebook page before any announcement. Okay… well… After the announcement, another announcement saying we purchased Torres’ contract and he’s no longer on loan. That’s a plus, but we should have gotten much more for Le Toux than that, one would think (or hope).
And then this was reported during or after (I’m actually not sure) his farewell party at Kildare’s in West Chester. Chris Vito reports the interview with Le Toux for The DelCo Times Herald, which can be found here <<< hyperlink. Here are some snippets of Le Toux’s quotes (who is the most humble philadelphian player and probably wouldn’t say this if still contracted) if you haven’t seen it, cried, and ripped your Union posters in rage. Queue the worst PR move in Union history. Like, this really ranks up there with New England Revolution and DTF (defend the fort for those who don’t know).
- “I wanted to stay in Philly. I didn’t care about the money.”
- The only thing they wanted is the money,” Le Toux said. “Being with this team and being a guy, not to build around, but to help this team, was what I wanted. … They must have wanted to sell me for money because they needed money. We don’t have a nice practice facility and that is something they promised since I am here. It’s terrible.
- “That’s why they pushed me to Bolton — money.”
- “I told them I would consider (Bolton), but I knew it wasn’t good for me,” Le Toux said. “I was out of shape. I hadn’t kicked a ball in five weeks. I didn’t want to go over there and injure myself in cold weather. What good is that for me or (the Union)?”
- “I asked Peter (Monday at YSC) what was going on and he didn’t let me talk,” Le Toux said. “He started to get mad at me, telling me that I was very not respectful to leave Bolton early. I told him, ‘First, I respect myself.’ But I always did everything they asked me to do.
And the kicker quote of the night – “I would be happy to just retire than play for Peter again,”
I take it from twitter and some comments that some more information was divulged at Kildare’s that makes the situation even less satisfying. Yes, this is apparently possible.
All things considered – yes, this is a business. It is a team. It is a fledgling league still, and a fledgling team. Most businesses never make profit in their first 3 to 5 years. It happens. Normally, within an organization you should be up front about things – especially to the employee you are going to use as a bartering chip. But again, many things just don’t add up.
Why be pissed off at someone, who is loyal to your cause and the team and the franchise, when all he wants is to stay there?
Why not tell him straightforward that you have no use for him other than trying to make a trade for money?
Why try to sell him when you are wasting 500k salary on someone you don’t use. And even less than that on a first round draft pick in 2010 that…again.. YOU DON”T FUCKING USE?
Why treat someone who is a fan favorite with as much respect as we treat any “Philly Villain” when they enter our domain?
Do you have no tact? No scruples? Do you not realize this is going to bite you in the fucking ass!?
I get on many fans cases when they bring up the point that this team is only here because of the fans primarily because we only showed there was a market. Once the team came, we generally have no more say in the goings on of the team such as personnel. BUT, the one thing that is never really a point to mention that I damn well agree with, is when there is no faith in the management of said team. And frankly, this situation has finally come.
So I ask, Peter Nowak – does your ego know no bounds? Are you so strapped for cash that you, in your “soccer experience” can’t see what is plainly obvious to the common fan? How do you get off treating someone who gave it all for you like he expects it all without doing anything?
I ask of you Nowak, Hackworth, Sakiewicz – is there not a brain among you? Do you not know what we as a fan base from Philadelphia could do to you?
I’m certain you’ll come on board with some overblown, piece of shit response to fan outrage saying “It is not like that” and “Media is blowing it out of proportion. Doesn’t know what they are saying.” and all the like, creating more of a PR shit storm separating yourselves from us. Do you really think that behind your iron curtain of no information and fluff pieces and fake smiles you can really prevent the truth from us?
If your money problems are really that true (considering you’re also getting 3 million a year from Bimbo ($12/4 years, please correct if wrong)) then I hope to god you have a good season, because otherwise, we will hurt you where it’s obvious where you care about.
- Thank you Chris Vito for giving me permission to take quotes from his article… sorry I took more than I thought I would take.
The trouble with what we were doing with this blog and actually going to the games is that we can’t stream the game in our fashion similar to the espn live commentaries (if you are at a work computer while any high profile match is going on, you know what i am talking about). We kind of miss it, and that was usually how we would recap our games without needing post game commentary. So 4 days after the cow slaughter, and here we are.
It’s lonely at the top… I shouldn’t say that just yet for fear of jynxing. We are number 1 in the East after 4 games – 9 points out of 4 games in our second year is more than we could have asked for (realistically), especially with only 1 GA and a 2 GD. Statistically, we are a powerhouse… until you look at possession time and successful passing rate, shots on goal… you get the idea.
As someone from the Pink Cows (i like mine medium rare mind you) said in a post game interview, it is difficult to score against a team that moves everyone back defensively. It must be said, our defense bent like no other on Saturday, and were doing shockingly well with not letting the bulls get decent chances (minus the two off the crossbar, but who’s paying attention to that). The fact that, sans the cross bar shots, we practically muted a team with the talent of an up-and-comer USMNT of Agudelo, Marquez, the weather tested (and hand battered) experience of Henry, and the steal of DeRosario should say SOMETHING about this team… But all I hear are complaints about how a team could control the entire game (I don’t know what game they were watching, but I was there and it looked as if it was a constant midfield battle) and not just get no result but lose. How about you stop downing on the young team and start realizing – if LA struggled to get a goal (minus one mental slip up) and Houston and Vancouver both had control of the game and couldn’t get a result from it, look at the team they can’t get a result from. Start taking notes on us instead of the other team.
But a win is a win – we just have to distribute more tissues to the away supporters. Our defense looked superb again with Harvey and Califf making header clears like no other. Keon Daniel was a pleasant suprise on the field as a starter, and his touch later in the game showed why he is worth starting (seriously, he schooled Solli on two occasions) – and I agree with the choice of benching Naka, even though he was showing plenty of signs of improvement, but for this game you want skill and not hope for someone who’s still in the making (suprisingly enough it looked like Keon is a veteran). I would like Keon to start again against Seattle.
Carroll likely made the best game decision of his life by subbing himself out of the game in the 7th minute for a hammy. He said it hurt like hell, hopefully it will heal up in time for Saturday, but fear not, we have Amobi to take his place… or Migs’ place since he was just spotlighted last week in one of those Union PR articles (as every Union feel good article so far has shown signs of someone being benched or being cut from the team… doubt me? Ask Jacobson and just recently Naka). Okugo must have played well… Considering I am saying must have because I don’t remember noticing him too much, which for a defensive midfielder that usually means you are doing something right. Migs on the other hand, while defensively skillfull, still has no touch for the ball or sight for any of his passes. Don’t be suprised if you don’t see him starting in the next couple of weeks.
Mapp, was basic Mapp. Being out of the game for a couple weeks due to injury, this was his first game back. To be honest, he seemed completely lost to me. First he didn’t give Sheanon the ball to throw in when he was within 20 yards of goal… which by now everyone SHOULD know that is the equivalent of a free kick outside the box – queue image of Sheanon reaching out for the ball looking at him going “WTF mate” when he weak tossed it to the teammate behind him. All else, Mapp looked lost, created chances off of his favored foot, and used hardly any of his other foot. I enjoyed Mapp last year, but this year he’s starting to become fairly stale in an already stale midfield.
Le Toux is showing signs of promise as his workrate is like no other… the only problem is his touch is off, and he is hesitating. He often passed the ball to a defender after hesitating instead of making the quick through ball to the advancing attacker to his side. He almost had an accidental goal from a cross to Keon in the 2nd half that the Pink cows imbecile of a keeper blocked and almost put in his own net (i say imbecile, not just cause he’s on NJPC but for his dive to try to get le toux carded late in the game). Ruiz, as I’m sure he knows he doesn’t have the speed anymore, is trying to prove to defenses (and maybe us) that he is still a threat by making those 2 remarkable long shots at goal in the 1st half – 1 clearing the post by a foot (got us on our feet I must say) and another deadly strike to the bottom corner of the net that if the keeper wasn’t ready, was a sure goal. I’m starting to like Ruiz, and once he’s able to find some open space and get into the box and click with the rest of the team, he’s going to be a lethal weapon.
Mwanga and Torres – my favorite 63 minute time frame subs. Mwanga tallied the assist, and Torres (who i was still cheering him coming on the field during the time) put it in the net. By far the most favorite players next to Le Toux on this team, and rightfully so. I’m glad Torres finally got his dues.
A better looking game than the previous 3, and an even better result (or bitter if you’re from NJ..i mean NY). Now we look onto the team that is the proverbial soup bowl of the USA.
Date- April 16th
Where – PPL Park
Time – 4 pm (just before the Flyers hockey game, not early enough)
TV – who knows due to flyers
Weather – Seattle-like
This is the battle of the fake coaches (@fakesigi vs @fakepeternowak).
Now, if it wasn’t for their record right now, WTL 1-2-2, I would say this would be a test similar to that of LA… but something is definitely off with this team so I would hope the result would be a win with at least 2 goals on our end (we’re due for that). Their first WIN was this past weekend against Chicago, which if you look at it they always beat them.
Montero is still uncertain for the Sounders as of this writing due to his wrist injury, but he was cleared for training. In my opinion, Keller is overrated, but that’s just my opinion. For this season, I haven’t been able to catch a match with Seattle, but they are known to be a dangerous team, and the fact that Montero is (should be) sidelined should help us. I think if Nowak keeps doing what he’s doing with a slight offensive tweak down one of the sides, and Mondragon keeps our D secure, we should have no problem with this game. I predict another midfield battle (this seems to be a running theme) and it will definitely be a closer game than usual.
But I have been proven wrong before.
So bring your poncho on Saturday.
PS – Union Dues got a new writer known as Poor Spoertsman. I think it’s worth a look.
First, I would like to apologize for no proper post game analysis, nor a pre game analysis in the past week. So, here is your post (while I’m at home and not busy at work).
For starters, I have to say that I watched the full first half of the LA game, and given my situation (up late the night before, little sleep, and moving some things) i took a nap during half time. This then resulted in missing the majority of the second half, boy was I beat. In looking everything up on bigsoccer.com and various other comments, I didn’t miss much and would have been even more annoyed.
In other words, I would present you with this post from a fellow blogger, it is not a post game analysis, but more of a complaint to the team. A wake up call, rather.
I agree with him on many points, but many things that need to be said had been left out.
From watching the first half, there are many critiques that need to be made. First and foremost, if Valdes is as good as a player as he is / should be, he came awfully close to giving the game away twice early on. First the accidental elbow could easily have been called, but granted it was in the box, it would have to be a blatant call. Considering the officiating was terrible in every sense on both sides I am suprised it wasn’t. 2nd, Valdes David Myrie’d the crap out of Landon. Considering I am one of the very few who really don’t like the guy, even when he’s on the USMNT, I am one to say he deserved it – but that foul call should easily have been a yellow. The free kick resulted in nothing, but the severity of the foul should have been more. Valdes needs to step up his game, and not be as reckless as he’s been because when the play has been coming down to just him in between the goal, I haven’t been impressed in the least.
The goal that made what looked like a clear tie into a loss – seriously, what was that? It’s almost like the team never heard of the word “MARKING”. Our set pieces are crap, and that also means that we aren’t likely to be good at defending set pieces. This was clear that LA’s Leonardo was open – 3 feet away from any defender or even offender. That is sad in every part. I’m certain that Mondragon was not expecting the ball to be hit and placed at that spot, and he should have easily saved it… Watch the replay, the ball if 1 inch to the left would have bricked out. Luckily enough, the dragon is not phased by it and made 2 great stops soon after, but on a defensive standpoint, that ball should NOT have happened.
Midfield and offense. I can’t critique on this because there was none. I can go on and on, but for the past 3 games it doesn’t look like there is any heart or drive in the midfield and offense. Migs clearly should not be in a starting position, Naka is making improvements, but still is rough around the edges, Carrol is Carrol and is doing good by not making mistakes. Le Toux is hurt and someone needs to make the executive decision of telling him he CAN’T go on the field. Ruiz is lackluster at best… It’s almost like he only wants to score, but he cant’ because he doesn’t have the speed to catch up to the crosses.
To compare this team to last year (“We are better than last year” “We are worse than our peak last year”) is irrelevant considering this is practically a new team with starting positions – where only 4 or 5 starting players were starters last year. To compare to last year – yes, we are not letting silly mistake goals into the net, but we still actually attacked the net this time last year, this year we’re barely getting attacks going. We have had terrible posession, and even being a man up for practically a full half last night, there is no excuse. I enjoy the fact that we won our first 2, but they were sour wins because if we are the team we are presenting ourselves to be, those should have been 2 – 0 wins, much like last night should have been at worst a 1-1 tie. Something needs to change, something needs to start… We can make the excuses of “It’s the start of the year” and “It’s MLS, every other team is playing terribly too” but this is what we expect, this is what we want. If we have the caliber talent the team’s PR club likes to give us, then we expect it and not want to watch a dull, lackluster win. We want to be wooed, we want to be tough, we want chances, shots, possession, we want to be Philly, we want the U.
Okay, this is real late.. I know. No matter, sorry for the 2 people who read this.
In an attempt at tweeting while at a bar, you can see, it didn’t work out very well… Neither did the glass 3/4′s full of Cider that ended up on the floor, but who’s noticing. And because this is late, and I’ll be at the game tomorrow, this is commentary of last week’s game, and a preview for our Home Opener!
Who: Vancouver Whitecaps
Where: PPL Park – Beautiful downtown Chester
Time: 4:00 PM EDT
This is our test against an expansion team that you would not dare to call an expansion team. Winning last week against Toronto 4 – 2 shows that the Whitecaps have one thing on their mind, scoring. As last year, and last week has shown, we still need to work on that, scoring. Not just scoring, but creating chances. This includes possession. We had a meager 31% possession time for the game, and that’s not good for any team trying to create something. We were lucky that Houston wasn’t as well put together as they may have been made out to, but a more solidified central defense (Where the hell did Califf come from) and some lucky chances (See you in Chicago Oduro) we were able to come off with a win. Needless to say, we should have had many more GOOD chances last week than the Sheanon superman throw-in. With a shaky midfield of Migz and Naka that we are chalking up to just the start of the season, we need to control the ball more. That means better mid-field play, better passing, and completing through balls. It’s understood that our players, about 60% new may not be completely in sync as of yet, but pick up games have had better pass connections than the Union had last week. If we’re going to win, we can’t take Vancouver lightly, nor allow them possession of the ball, since their primary goal is to..score a goal. An attacking team is never one to take lightly, and I would expect our Midfield and Defensive line to be tested by constant counter attacks and a pressing defense.
Speaking of our defensive line being tested, at the moment it seems as though its depthe will be. as of the writing of this blog Danny “I should have been this good last year” Califf is questionable with a problem with his knee and Gonzalez is listed as probable with a problem with his hip. As i expect Califf to play since there has been no other word other than a bigsoccer.com list, it does call into question – what are we going to do if they can’t play? Califf and Valdes were our strong central defense last week, if Califf is out – and Gonzalez being on the maybe list, what exactly are we going to do? We have enough problems as of now worrying of Williams will be out of position, or if Harvey will be caught flatfooted on the sides. We can’t afford a weak center.
As depth of our backline is our only problem (in depth) Vancouver is something to snicker about. They have 2 players out for National Team call ups with Jay Demerit and Michael Boxall, with 3 other guaranteed players out due to injury, one being Shea Salinas who will have to wait another year before a return to Philadelphia (unless we see them in the playoffs). They also have Thorrington listed as doubtful, and Teibert is Questionable. That is a total of 7 players on their roster. How much this will effect them, one may not know, but we will see.
Our midfield seems to be a slight issue. As Mapp played a consistent game, Naka and Migs played… well, up to their par. Naka didn’t have any good set pieces to strike, and the one that he did was awful. As he is pressing and working for the consistent Mid Starting position, as the Union feel good articles present, his play when pressed almost begs to differ. Better control of the ball and sight of the play needs to be present, and please don’t dribble the ball more when a player comes after you. Migs on the other hand was consistent… to last year… which isn’t saying much. It was shocking someone found a picture of him on the pitch during the game because it was almost as if he didn’t have any effect on the game (I’m not trying to knock on the guy, but I noticed everyone in my drunken stupor on Saturday except for him). Carroll, on the other hand, seems to have had an okay game, but may be having trouble with just getting into the flow of the team. This is something that will probably improve as time goes on, and lineups switch.
Ruiz and Le Toux up top need better services. As their skill is in no question, when pressing on goal, the ball needs to get to them for chances to be made. Last week, this didn’t happen often and when it did, there was either miscommunication or lack of awareness on either end. Again, something that should actually improve as time goes on. One thing to note is that Ruiz may have to watch out for being set up into cheap foul calls on him, like the elbow last week. As the elbow to the face is a legitimate yellow card, 95% of the time (meaning most of the time) the defender in that situation will jump for the ball or move out of the way. The fact that the defender just stood there was either through idiocy, or intelligence, and resulted in a yellow on Ruiz, and even for Dynamo fans calling for a red. Aside from that, Ruiz seems to be able to hold his own, and just need to get more in sync with any through balls for him.
This should be a good match through and through, which I will be enjoying in section 121 tomorrow. I’ll see you all there.
Prediction – 2-1… either way. I myself am picking the Union.