Well, we might as well talk about it…
A quick look back on Nowak before our preview of the DC match-
May 2009 – Named the head coach of the incoming Philadelphia Union.
Brought DOOP into our every day vocabulary.
Petitioned Danny Mwanga to stay in the United States, and subsequently was the Unions first (and first of 2010) draft pick ever. Never heard from the kid since.
Introduced us to the fan favorites of Old Serbian and Big Quick Mondragon.
Lost track of loan information (MOF)
Was unaware of visa information (Daniel)
Smited Superman (David Myrie)
Turned a rag tag bunch of motley into a 2nd year playoff competitor.
Collected more (allocation) money than the monopoly guy.
Rumor (rather word is, cause it’s obvious in legal contractual dissolvements) is that Nowak got paid plenty to leave. Not sure if his application to another job is grounds for dismissal, but as some joked along with the rumor that he had applied to Hearts in the Scottish Premier league – he would take the allocation money with him. Well, it seems if he did get a payout, that’s likely true.
So, what now?
After finally getting rid of the coach who took bath salts towards the end of the 2011 season and ultimately cannibalized his own players, where do we go from here with the leftovers. We already have the talent – Valdes, Gomez, Williams, Carroll, Daniel, Torres (whenever he comes back…), Marfan, Garfan, Martinez. I will lump Adu into this category if he has another stellar play, and Pajoy once he gets two more goals - I do like Pajoy, it just seems that (like Ruiz) the game strategy for the team doesn’t fit into any play with him (which is a coaching fault… cough). We have a team with talent and stars, but what will happen.
Where will Hackworth lead this team? Is he better at developing talent where it seems that Nowak has only stifled it due to some egotistical maneuver that is contrary to any child development guide (See: Mwanga, Adu – twice!, and McInerney)? Is he going to field a team that will benefit the team – play to their strengths as opposed to plugging in holes like you’re playing FIFA 12 and chosen a random team (I’m getting the hang of it)? Not only that – the bottom line question of course is – will he give us results – will he give us wins.
Now none of this “He’s a Nowak lacky”. If you were put in charge while your boss was away for only one week, you’d do what your boss wanted you to do. Why? Well, it’s not your team, you’re his assistant, and you want to keep your job. Hackworth’s been assistanting and coaching since 93 and started with colleges. He’s been the 2nd in line, as well as the man in charge throughout his career – especially for our U-17′s. For now, time will tell. This is a new leaf. This is a new day. We got what we were asking for because, well, we didn’t like what we saw anymore. Too much inconsistency (even with success) and then a complete nuclear melt down will result in a quick turnaround. This is our first growing pain. This is our first MAJOR (non-player) change. Will the team go through another overhaul? Will we bring in a (semi) big name? How much allocation money is left?
The better question…
Will we score goals?
Match time is 8:30pm, Saturday, March 24, 2012, from Toyota Field in Bridgeview, IL, televised locally on The Comcast Network.
What we know: Union are 0-2-0 on the season, Chicago is 0-0-1, having earned a draw at Montreal during Montreal’s first ever MLS home-opener. Union, against Colorado, created good possession that gave opportunities for chances which didn’t often enough lead to actual chances. They have failed in the area of threatening the goal and making the other team’s goal keeper work. Their defense has not been stellar either, allowing 5 goals in 2 matches, and Sheanon Williams was a late addition to the U.S.A U-23 team that is in Olympic qualifying, so that hurts additionally.
What we don’t know: What the hell is going on with Danny Califf? He earns the title of team captain, then gets benched without being informed prior, contradicts reports of an injury, and now apparently, he didn’t even travel with his team to Chicago. I’m not going to claim that Califf is a stand-out performer anymore, but I definitely have a problem with a guy who is the team captain not being given the courtesy of information about his own status. The transperancy of this Union team has to be called into question, as well. Did Union make the move and backstory with the intention of deceiving Colorado? They seem a bit less tactful this week, but none the less confusing. We also don’t know what this means for the rearguard, as 2 of last season’s 4 starters will not be included (Califf and Williams).
What to watch for: In spite of all of this outside mumbo jumbo that will make our heads hurt to think about too much, Union showed significant improvement in some areas from game one to game two. This team is capable of serving dangerous crosses into the 18-yard box from all over the pitch. Their problem is having one of their teammates direct said cross towards, and hopefully into, the goal mouth. Lionard Pajoy made the play that restored some measure of faith in the side, when he made the perfect run to find a cross with his forehead mid-dive to score his team’s only goal…against a 10-man side…a 10-man side that scored a goal themselves while down a man…*vomits*. The hope for the optimists is that the way they pressured late can be duplicated, because though Colorado had 10 men, they would have bunkered in with a 2-goal lead anyway, with just the two strikers not behind the ball. Union scoring their lone goal against a bunkered defense is a positive sign. For the pessimists, other than the runout that lead to Colorado’s 2nd goal, they didn’t do much to threaten the Union half, therefore, Union should have been able to keep their possession in the attacking half more, and create more solid chances. Also, pessimists will remind us all that Union were possession-dominant in the first half and went into the locker room with nothing to show for it. The hope rests in their attacking midfield play being a trend, which will produce better results in the very near future, so look for Roger Torres to feature longer in this match, and he, Gabe Gomez, and Porfirio Lopez will be sending chances in for Pajoy, Danny Mwanga, and Josue Martinez to put in the net.
What this all means: I see Union improvement, but not enough to get a win on the road. Chicago did well on the road last week, but they were still playing Impact who I don’t have faith in yet. Union are under pressure to get a win, playing on the road… I see this as a draw, likely 1-1, but 2-2 wouldn’t shock me.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@unholyunionNDY)
Clearly arguments can be made for both cases. 2 games in the season do not dictate the rest of the 32 left to play. This is the third year Nowak’s been in charge and the team has regressed. We have a lot of new players that Nowak believes will fit his style. The entire team chemistry is disrupted with the turnover of our playmakers. Our team needs time to start to gel together. Why send our team internationally for preseason games instead of playing games against our own competition?
This list for each can go on, and on, and on.
It’s easy as a Philadelphian to quickly jump down a coach’s throat – hell, we’ve been doing that to Andy Reid for 5 years, justifiably so (only the foolish think he can field “America’s team” ). But why, with seemingly all the wrong choices and the “clause of silence” all throughout Union management, should we hold back from attacking Nowak?
Well for starters he’ll make you run laps.
Being that this is practically a brand new team – 15 players remain from being on the 2011 roster at any point in the season, 9 (give or take) being primarily subs, with 1 now a regular starter – it does take time to gel. The question now, as we know with Nowak, is with the acquisitions made in the offseason, do these players not only gel with Nowak’s bipolar strategy (‘solid’ defense with defensive offensive pressure) but do they have the capability to perform as such.
With Carroll, Califf (if not taking a shot, apparently), and Valdes being the central defense it seems, you will often find Gomez and Williams pressing the ball into the offensive half (and the occasional Valdes, and Gomez drops back). This tallies for 5 players that are guaranteed to be conistent starters – barring national duty. Add in Pajoy as a viable outlet for crosses, set pieces, and our only offense it seems, this makes up 6 of our 10 players.
So… what gives?
Lopez has yet to impress, and has made costly foolish mistakes that have lead to goals. Mental lapses if you will (at least the one I saw against colorado, going for the ball instead of making sure the man behind him was marked). Being that this is his 8th year playing soccer, one can’t really explain why he would have these costly mental lapses – one would assume maybe it’s just the newness of everything getting to him, but a professional shouldn’t be making these mistakes.
This shows what we expect – or at least explains – 7 of our 10 field players who are going to be our regular starters (sans call ups). It almost seems like Nowak has most of the tools he needs (read wants) to implement his bipolar system. But sadly, we are still missing 3 players.
Who do we have for these three players? Well, a russian roulette of youth, talent, and immaturity. You can almost label any of these descriptions on our cast of characters – considering that Marfan is probably the odds on favorite for regular starter, who knows how many times even he will play. Adu, Mwanga, and Torres don’t even have guarantees in being a starter in any of these positions. And sadly, this is where our push forward in play will likely, and constantly, stall. Why? Inexperience with eachother. They are the connection from the backline to Pajoy, and even have direct paths toward net themselves – but because nothing is consistent with this area, it will always end up changing.
Looking at things in a breakdown, you almost wonder how we were only able to tally 1 goal a game so far. Albeit there have only been 2 games, but we should have a more solid team than even last year. So it goes to wonder – is Nowak almost completed with his experiment with our team and it will just take time? Or, is this just the beginning of the end for him?
In seven days, Philadelphia Union have scored 2 goals, conceded 5, and sit with zero points out of a possible six. Over 19,000 attended the home opener, with a far greater number than that wonder just what in the name of everything Holy is Peter Nowak doing with this club?
The match in Portland was almost certainly a loss from the outset. The conditions were horrid for a team that doesn’t play in them often. The Jeld-Wen Field surface is artificial, and the Pacific Northwest is almost a 100% guarantee for rain. All of the roster turnover made for an impossible task for Union to escape Portlandia with any points.
The home opener yesterday, however, was a match that left me with mixed emotions. You can see the week 2 predictions post to see that I, correctly, predicted Union would lose. The game left me with a more confident feeling about the side, that they would be able to create goals once these new pieces get more game time together. Then again, they had a significant spell where they had one more man on the field than did Colorado. So, yes, they created chances in the second half, but they also gave up a goal to a 10-man squad.
My main issue with Union so far in their existence is that they don’t allow us fans to view them in the pre-season, unless we travel to their remote sites. They don’t stream their pre-season matches online, so we are left to settle for team-generated articles chronicling the team’s progress. It’s a nasty system of secrecy set up to keep us in the dark. It’s the same cloud that hovers over yesterday’s benching of Captain Danny Califf. Cap’n Ink says he’s not hurt, despite his coach’s claim that he is. This is the reason I couldn’t write a season preview: I had no idea what to expect from this team.
This is what I see so far: They are struggling with their formation, some of the new players are not acclimating as well as others, and they don’t have a backbone as of now. The team attempted to sell Michael Farfan, coming off of his Rookie of the Year finalist nomination, as the piece that would help us all forget Sebastien Le Toux. He’s been ineffective in both matches so far. His forward passing has not connected, his shots don’t get through defenders often enough, and he seems, at times, lost in where to make his runs to. Granted, it’s just 2 matches into the season, but when the front office turns over the team as much as they have prior to this season, some better results should be expected if they’d like us to believe that they actually know what they’re doing. Secondly, Gabriel Gomez has been very good in his first MLS week. I like his service on set pieces, and he plays a gritty game defensively. I have a lot of confidence so far in both he and Lionard Pajoy. Neither is hard to understand, considering they’ve netted Union’s only goals of the season. The Central American imports Josue Martinez and Porfirio Lopez have not impressed thus far. Lopez was caught napping on the other side of MacMath’s bungle yesterday, and was victimized for at least 2 of the 3 goals Portland scored. Martinez showed some signs of being a dynamic player, so I’ll hold off ripping him until he gets some more playing time. Neither of those two, however, has covered themselves in glory. And, the defense… what happened? They allowed the second-fewest goals in the league last season, only to see 5 put in behind MacMath in 2 matches. The new left back Lopez has not solidified that position, and Califf getting benched added a new state of flux to what last season was the strength and identity of the squad. Now that that area is a liability, what DO Union hang their proverbial hat on as their identity? They still attack with the orchestration of a team that does not practice together. It’s become demonstrated by players, like Gomez, that the attackers are not getting into the right places to make the final and finishing touches. They have trouble as an all-out attacking team, and they’re no longer a solid defensive side, so what are they? This question could be answered so much more easily if I had been able to see more than 180 minutes (plus added injury time, of course) of the 2012 Philadelphia Union.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
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.
…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)
I’ve made note of this before, some banners in the River End have been missing since July, one in which was Charlie Sheen… Now, I’m not saying it’s primarily because of the banners, but there is an awful lot of coincidence in the Charlie Sheen banner hanging proudly in The River End, and our first win in two months. If you have finally recovered from celebrating (or dredding the Sunday night loss of the Eagles, both should result in hangovers) you already know we beat Columbus 1-nothing.
With a starting eleven that rotates more than a 5 year old on a computer chair, this was the most haphazard chemistry experiment Nowak has implemented this year. We started with the normal GK with MacMath, Valdes, Califf, Williams, and an interchangable Farfan in left back (Gabe this time). In the midfield was our solid CMD in Carroll, and our new favorite combination of Adu Torres. The change here, as Justin Mapp was listed on the injury report, was our youngest acquisition – Pfeffer. The 17 year old had his first start and played well – but I will get to that later. So, with the midfield with a little twist, you would expect to see Mwanga and LeToux up top. Well, half right. The interchangeable Farfan’s strike again with being able to fill a striker position with Michael. My eyes went crosseyed when I saw this line up. Nowak was either a mad genius, or has gone mad. Both are the case, but I’ll just go with genius. That or he reads all the bloggers’ predictions before hand just to mess with our heads so that we are always wrong.
What went right-
Most everything. We didn’t have drifting midfielders. We didn’t look like a midfield blob the entire game. No overplaying the ball defensively and having to chase. It was one of our better form games this year, and it showed.
It seemed from my end that it was mostly a midfield battle, as Columbus would come in and literally possess the ball with handling and passing, which they are fairly good at. For the Union however, from the beginning, it seemed our strategy was grab and dash. We weren’t really trying to keep the ball possession, rather, get the ball, and get it to goal as fast as possible. Many breaks would end up with the ball stolen and Columbus back to pure possession, so the first half Columbus generally maintained the ball. But like most strategies for a counterattack game, if you do it long enough there will be a breakthrough and it came with Torres to Le Toux.
Now, there were a few breaks before that could have resulted in goals or attempts, but this one was just perfect. Torres on the right wing on the defensive side of midfield looks up to see Le Toux in between two Columbus defenders, pointing at goal. I don’t know why this has never been done before, but Torres actually sent the ball in… Not only did he send it in, it was perfectly spaced and weighted putting the ball in front of Le Toux, inside the 18. Le Toux with a step on the defender coming in at full speed, you would think that he would end up hitting the ball high or wide, but something has happened to the Frenchmen in the past 2 months – he got his touch back. He calmly struck to ball low and to the right of Columbus keeper Hessmer, and officially made him his bitch.
Pfeffer in the closing minutes of the 1st half had a shot on goal as well, initiated from a Torres cross to Le Toux into the box once again, which he then outplayed a defender along the goal line and got it to Pfeffer who was in the middle right side of the 18 box, with his back to goal, pivots and strikes the ball nicely for such a shot. Unfortunately it was directly at the keeper. Not bad for a 17 year old.
These were the only 2 shots on goal out of 8. 5 others went wide, and another was stopped before it reached net. Columbus had an equal amount of chances, but only required MacMath to make one save, giving him the clean sheet and first MLS career win. They also had 4 shots off target, and 3 were blocked.
What you would have thought-
Thinking about this, I don’t know why Columbus did not try to go on our left flank more than they did. Granted, we have a 17 year old first time starter as left midfielder, and Gabe Farfan, the better defender of the two Farfans, but not a natural defender – so thinking strategically you would pressure that one side. Luckily enough, they’re Columbus and screwed up. I’m not complaining, but it makes you wonder about the strategies teams try to implement – and remind us that even though it seems we don’t have one cut in stone, some other teams are that much more worse off.
What to improve -
To be honest, I can’t think of anything to improve on with this game. Adu did very little, but was available for distribution. Torres made some fantastic service similar to that which we saw and loved last year. And we looked like a team that knows how to get in first place for the conference, and has the making to finish the season strong.
I guess the only thing I would ask for would be some insurance goals. Sitting on one goal leads is never pretty, but it wasn’t like we weren’t trying. Just get it on target boys.
Also, in case you didn’t know – during half time Rotary International was showcased, a volunteer organization that provides “communitees at home and abroad to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, and eradicate polio.” That was taken from the main international site. You can go to Rotary.org, philarotary.org or the Philadelphia Club facebook. They used this game to raise funds to be donated to Rotary for polio education.
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.
Tonight, 9pm, Comcast SportsNet, from Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL.
So, who in the hell is going to play right fullback? Sheanon Williams’ red card against Colorado has put Union in an unfamiliar position. They are already playing with a mid-season replacement at left back, Gabriel Farfan, but have yet to have to replace their right back for even a minute of this season. This should be a massive problem, right?
Enter the Chicago Fire, who own the league’s worst home record. If there was EVER a good time to find out exactly how much versatility this roster has, this is the week. My guess is it’ll be our other Farfan, Michael, because, well, that’s Nowak’s new philosophy. When in doubt, just put Farfan in there. Who knows what he’s going to do if they need another attacking midfielder. Maybe Gabe and Mike have another brother, or a cousin….
Anyway, the bigger issue here is the need for Union to rebound from their first home loss of the season, and their first time in a long time not atop the standings table. A mid-week match against a bottom-feeder seems just the remedy. I normally think these mid-week matches are more arduous for the side, thus not a good thing, but in this case, the team needs to get the bad taste of last match out of their collective mouths. The sooner the next match came, the better.
I don’t care about Chicago’s team. Tonight is about Union accomplishing what they should get accomplished. Which means I do NOT want to see Kyle Nakazawa in the starting XI. He has looked tentative in attack ever since the friendlies against the European teams. The person who has looked best in that same timespan is Roger Torres. Starting him, however, would defy Nowak-logic, thus I expect Veljko Paunovic to start in the CAM spot tonight…. not that I want it that way, it’s just what is likely to be. And on that note, is it a good thing or a bad thing that we, as fans, have not the foggiest idea of what our starting XI will be from week to week? I say it’s a good thing, because it gives me something to discuss in previews, and something to complain about in post-match critiques.
So, for what I expect to happen, not what I would like, It will look something like:
Mwanga Le Toux
Mapp Carroll Paunovic Daniel
Garfan Califf Valdes Marfan
I could see this playing as a 3-5-2 also, with Paunovic playing as a CAM/recessed striker, and Neon Keon sliding into a more central position to allow Marfan to play the right wing. That’s likely how the attack will evolve anyway when pushing forward, but I think Nowak will have them start in the 4-4-2 they’ve played almost all of the season. Also, if Nowak would like to start Jack McInerney and show Sebastien Le Toux what the bench looks like, I’d be ok with that, too. Whoever plays in this match, I want a decisive victory for Union, at least 2-0. I think the clean sheet would be a nice achievement given that their normal right back is not in the lineup. They need to play more like 2nd half vs Colorado than 1st half vs Colorado. It’s about results, and Union need one badly to keep up with Columbus and to stay ahead of New York.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union