NY: I’m mailing this week in. I’m employing the coin-flip technique. I don’t know how draw is going to factor in to this. F*ck it, I just won’t pick a draw then.
DK: Isn’t that what we always do? Mail it in. to make it simpler (cause of timing) I’m going to match up with your matches.
NY: Chivas USA v Chicago Fire: I guess home team is heads, road team is tails, so here goes: Damn it, I don’t even have a quarter so I’m flipping a nickel, but anyway: Tails = Chicago wins. I like this method.
DK: Even though Chicago sucks, so does Chivas. It’s going to be sad that this game is close in any aspect, but Oduro is likely going to notch a goal in this one, it’s harder to tell what Chivas will do – but east conference teams always fail miserably on the west coast. 1-1 tie.
NY: Toronto FC v DC United: Flip #2: Tails, again. That makes sense. TFC doesn’t seem to play as well in league play as they have in their inter, and intra, national tournaments.
DK: TFC still can’t buy a point, and DC is on a tear, DC 2-0.
NY: Vancouver Whitecaps v San Jose Earthquakes: Flippity Flippity #3: Damn it, i dropped on the floor and rolled under my desk. Re-do: Tails, AGAIN! Eh, San Jose HAS been playing well. They scored 2 in beating Union Saturday, then come out mid-week and put a 5-spot on the board to get another 3 points. Sure, why not another win?
DK: I don’t like this match up only because I’m clearly picking San Jose… they’re good, who the hell knew. 1-0
NY: LA Galaxy v New Jersey Pink Cows: Flippity Floppity Floop #4: Heads! That means that this early war-of-attrition will be won by the home side! Sure! Why not?!?!?
DK: Weirdly, I dislike LA more than RBNY, and they’ve been doing much better than LA so far (only by one game). I’ll go with a 2-2 tie. Think NY could HANDle it? No, it never gets old.
NY: Seattle Sounders v Philadelphia Union: Dare I coin flip this? Sure, it seems to be working so well… Heads! This means that Union will take their second straight defeat. I guess I can believe that. That turf is weird, it’s an odd time (1:30pm local), and Freddy Montero might be too much for the Union to deal with. If these picks are correct, I’m keeping this nickel and flipping it every week, but if these are wrong, I’m going to melt the damn thing down so it’s no longer a coin. There’s a lot at stake for this coin, isn’t there?
DK: Yes we beat Seattle last year… Yes that field is atrocious. Yes my retinas burn while watching games in Seattle. No nothing good will come from this. Last year’s team was vastly different than this year’s team, and sadly enough – only one of those variations included Stefani Miglioranzi. The only upside to this weekend for me is seeing the Avengers movie after the game, I fully expect a loss of 2-1. I hope to god though that something FINALLY f***ing clicks with this team….
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.
It’s a really good thing Union don’t face New York Red Bulls again until October. RBNY looked dynamic in their 4-0 dismantling of DC United. Thierry Henry netted 2 goals and had his hand in Joel Lindpere’s strike (no, not THAT way), with Juan Agudelo dazzled for the cake-icing tally. But why does any of this matter to Union?
RBNY has now scored 7 goals in their past 2 matches. In their first 4 matches, they only scored TWICE. The last of that string was their frustrating (though beautiful to us) 1-0 loss in Chester. The aforementioned Agudelo struck the frame of the goal two times during that match, but never found a way to cross the goal mouth. Reviews of that match from NY’s perspective left them intent on finding answers, as it appeared what Union had done to them was the last straw. Philly has, apprarently sent them on a rampage through the rest of MLS. Again, I did note that it’s only been 2 matches since, but NY has looked every bit the world-beating, expected conference leader since their visit to PPL Park.
The first goal of the night was a result of the offensive organization that has been sorely lacking in Union blue. Jan Gunnar Solli, as a right back, worked a perfect sideline-running 1-2 combination, springing him open down the right wing. (Does that sound like something Union might be able to do? Gee, I wonder….) From there, a simple right-footed cross sailed to 1 of 3 box-charging teammates. It was to Henry, who firmly headed the ball inside the post. The second goal was more of the I-want-this-more-than-you-do type of play. Again, it was Solli who made the play. This time, he was already running the right flank when a ball was lobbed in between Solli and his defender. Solli muscled the man away from the ball and slid to center the ball into the 18-yard box. From there, the keeper wasn’t able to get control of it, and with Luke Rodgers boxing a defender out, Henry came in and pounded home his 2nd of the match.
The 3rd goal showed RBNY’s offensive depth and versatility. With a comfortable 2-goal lead, and Charlie Davies forgetting that soccer has an offsides rule (repeatedly! No wonder he got subbed off…), NY was content to sit back and defend. DC launched fruitless effort after fruitless effort, and then the Bulls sought a counter. Henry showed to a defensive clearance in the midfield, and quickly sent the ball forward to midfielder Joel Lindpere. Joel took care of the rest. He ran all the way to the 18 before being caught up. When the defender caught up to him, he kept running while Lindpere cut back from his left foot to his right foot, and confidently smashed his strike inside the near post. It would have been the most skillful goal of the night if not for the young U.S. international Agudelo. In stoppage time, Agudelo’s tenacity payed off. He was a 75th minute substitution, so the match was effectively over by the time he hit the pitch, but he wanted a goal badly anyway. While racing towards the top of the box, a pass from the right wing was just a step behind him. No matter, as he simply stopped on a dime, played the ball up into the air with his back foot, and used a roundhouse kick to play the volley past the hapless Bill Hamid. Where his touch failed him in Chester, it was at it’s exquisite best at RFK Stadium.
A favorite rouse of Red Bull faithful is that we, in Philly, have had a team for just 1 season and we have as many MLS Cups as they do. I now wonder if the April 9th meeting has created a monster that will hinder Union’s chances of reaching the post-season.
Date - April 9th
Time – 7pm
Where – PPL Park, Chester
Weather – Bullish.
The Union coming off a disappointing, yet exciting (at least from the perceptions of the newly formed FC Chatroom soccer club) game on Wednesday against DC United, we are looking for some league redemption against those overinflated sense of selves that say they’re form New York just like an overseas American says he’s Canadian – you’re not. Not to mention the terrible game – in all senses of the word terrible – against LA last Saturday in league play, we’re expecting to pick up the pace and win this one.
Some recent changes with the Red Bulls – sprouting a well placed team of stars to begin with, just picked up De Rosario (if you remember him from last year, he did that dirty bird walk after scoring a stupid goal from a stupid penalty). He’s one to fear as he’s expected to give the NYRB’s a jolt in their offense. He’s an explosive player with some talent, but his play and appearance scream of someone you just want to punch in the face – unfourtanately Little Mac-inerny is out of the game due to a red card in extra time in LA (read: game was over anyway). Pair up De Rosario with the stars and experience the Red Bulls (should) have and this is going to make for an interesting match.
Because of this, there are 2 things that we need to watch that would make for this to be an exciting game -
1) Our defense. We’ve been fairly solid this year, being only 4 games in. Only 1 goal allowed in league play, and 2 in USOC play (1 of which being speculatively situational). If our defense stands true to form, then we should see a decent and overplayed midfield battle and plenty of offsides calls. But, if our defense holds true to form then we might not have —
2) Offense. We need to be attacking more and better. In league play we’ve been plagued with terrible through balls and defensive clearings to noone without any possession. As we are tight defensively, it doesn’t help when we have no counter ability and give the ball directly back to the other team. We need to bunker down on offense just like we are on defense, and control the tempo of the game by merely controlling the ball better. Don’t be looking for the long ball to Ruiz who will get out ran to the ball and attempt to score. Control – possess the ball, be the ball Danny…nananananana…
If we make better passes, judgement, and strategically bring the ball (and game) to them, we should be able to outplay and win this one and make this a game to remember.
It’s not likely we will see the lineup that played in DC (Nowak says Migs felt ill and didn’t play) so be expected to see the redundancy that most everyone is annoyed with this year. My issue with that is what everyone else is saying, Carroll is good enough by himself, and Migs blows chances like an Asian massage parlor down in south Philly. Put him in and you’ll see the attacking team that we imagined (from chatroom updates of the game) back to a offensive blackhole. Mapp is cleared to play, but if he will get a start is anyone’s guess at the moment.
Remember, lot parking lots open 5 hours before the game, and let’s show Red Bull how to properly fill a stadium.
Union’s win against the Energy Drinks showed the final home crowd of the season that the team has come a long way since March. They struck quickly against an uninspired opponent, and played an attractive, high-pressure style of football that will be more consistent and prevalent next season. The only viewpoint that could diminish the win is that RBNY didn’t seem to care about the result of the match. They didn’t start really playing until they had conceded 2 goals, had halftime to think about it, and made a good tactical substitution. They experimented with a 4-5-1 formation and found out that Juan Pablo Angel can’t play as a lone striker. They can still clinch the Eastern Conference championship with a win this week, so their match against Union was one where they could afford to try stuff out and a loss wasn’t critical.
However, this is a Union blog, and I shall focus on the positives. The most encouraging part of Saturday afternoon did not happen on the pitch; it happened in the stands. All accounts report that the supporters’ sections for Energy Drinks and Union brought out the best in each other. They attacked each other verbally, not physically, which is the way it should be. They were loud, creative, and effective. Fan sections like those create an atmosphere unique in professional sports. There is no other sport where fans sing in unison during game play. The best part about this is that the songs are insults to the opposition half the time. The other half are pro-home team, but the insulting ones are better. Next season’s match vs. RBNY will be worth going to just to hear the back-and-forth between the supporters.
About the match, the 2 early goals showed the killer instinct that we knew the team had all along. Union’s issue during this season has been figuring each other out, reading runs, and understanding where to be to capitalize on the chances. Fred was a beneficiary of being in the right place at the right time when he scored his goal. Being in the penalty area, right in front of the goal, on a corner kick is usually a good place to troll for rebounds and second chances. Fred did well to make sure that ball found the net. The second goal was even more encouraging because it was a central defender getting on the end of Sebastien Le Toux’s cross. Michael Orozco Fiscal made a great run, and scored what would become the game-winner. MOF’s run is something that neither Danny Califf nor any of the other players who have manned the center back position would have made. It was the product of his instinct, and understanding what Seba was going to do with the play. It’s indicative of what will help this team succeed next season and beyond.
All in all for next season, I expect them to improve on their 8 wins (potentially 9 with Columbus left to play) and I certainly expect them to improve on the 14 losses. I’m interested to see how the November 24th Expansion Draft will effect Union. They could lose 2 players that day, so there may be moves required by the front office other than what they already envision doing before next spring.
-Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
Details: Saturday, October 16th, 6pm. TV-it doesn’t matter, you’re probably gonna watch the Flyers leading up to the Phillies game anyway, but it’s on FSC
Normally, I would sell you on the idea that Union should be building a rivalry with the team from New York, the same way that the Phillies and Mets, Flyers and Rangers, Eagles and Giants, and the Sixers and Knicks have or have had in the past. With NY being atop the Eastern Conference standings (4th overall in MLS) and Union 3rd-worst in the league, this match holds little intrigue.
But we soldier on. What promised to be a Monster of a matchup between Frenchmen Sebastien Le Toux and Thierry Henry will likely not come to be, with Henry ailing from this week, and the match means very little to them. It would have been nice to see Seba show up his countryman, with his Battery that runs with 5 Hour Energy for a full 90 minutes. It may have been enough to Jolt the football Rock Star into better form, which he has only shown glimpses of since coming to MLS. It is, however, just one of the storylines to follow even though Union can’t Vault New York in the standings.
It is Union’s final home game of the season, and much appreciation will be showered on the supporters from players, and organization, alike. It will be one last time to give the folks a look in-person at what will be built upon for next season. I’m looking forward to seeing the full starting XI, the best mix of youth and veteran leadership. I want to see how well the tandem of Danny Califf and Michael Orozco Fiscal play against another playoff team. MOF has energy to Burn, and seems to Crave control of the central defense, and Cap’n Ink plays well off of him. This makes for a great foundation for next season’s playoff run. I’m also AMP‘ed to see Danny Mwanga make one last final pitch for Rookie of the Year honors. He made his charge earlier in season with Boo Koo publicity for his goals, but as he has cooled, so have his chances to win. He has two matches to show that he’s a talented, goal-scoring Hustler, who can Go Fast and Rip It.
Though this is how the home season will Exit, Union have pledged to do it at Full Throttle. The way they play at home is a 180 from how they play on the road, so hopefully that is a reason to think they can earn a result against the Energy Drinks.
Various things come into play when blogging a fan site blog that prevent actual blogging.
1) Work – In the first 2 weeks of every month both I and Nick are bogged down with work. Sometimes we barely find the time to make Demolition Man references, yet alone remember we have a blog to uphold.
2) Outside work – Nick’s a frequent bowler and quizo-er, and I’m a frequent slacker (and have a netflix queue out the wazoo) so going on the internet outside of work becomes less likely unless we are sitting down to watch the game, on the internet, because local broadcasting sucks…
I mean, 6-ABC, please do something about broadcasting and availability to all, rather than on an HD channel very few people receive.
3) Life as we know it – well, the Phils are in the playoffs, it’s Phillies Phever, and it’s almost next to a given that we forget about our lesser teams (we have a basketball team?) and overlook the good, but unsuccessful teams, such as the union. Granted there’s only two games left, one game at home (NYenergyDrinks) and one game away (columbus crew…bah) there’s only one game we care about there (I’ll give you 3 guesses) and then we sadly watch to see who continues on and becomes champion of the MLS.
4) There’s a week and a half in between the most recent matchups (last match was Oct 7, next match is Saturday)
5) … Yea, Phillies…
With a lot going on personally, professionally, and mainstream sports wise, it’s easy to lose track of the hobby created out of something we love, soccer – even for 2 different people running the blog.
We promise that we will end these final 2 weeks of Philadelphia MLS inaugural season soccer strong, and only fade away while watching Premier League soccer during the offseason… But by God, we’ll come back with a vengence next season (and actually do the entire season, rather than starting half way through haphazardly).
Shortly followed by a NY Energy Drink preview matchup featuring the Hand of Gaul.