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.
Dan – the slacking, bored, 1/2 of unholy union (and only person posting recently…. hmm…)
We are officially (less than) 3 days away from the first Philadelphia Union kick of the 2011 season. An exciting time for one and all, and a painfully, long, excruciating off season it has been… What a weird crazy trip it’s been…
Ok, enough of the bad yearbook phrases, and get onto some pre season comments.
1 – My season ticket cards and gifts have arrived. I couldn’t think at work because I have been waiting for 2 months since I have ordered this, and it is well worth the wait… minus the mini scarf. But hey, I now have something to decorate my cubicle with, because as Nick can attest, there’s nothing to show that someone works there other than stray wires and papers… plus a name placard but who notices those.
2 – I have immersed myself in a TON of things Union, and then bother Nick with them during work. Some things interesting, some minor, some annoying, and some end up me getting into twitter / forum wars that he makes fun of me for. I recently joined bigsoccer.com forums (and stupidly signed up with the username for this blog) and I have recently become accustomed to the fact that – i don’t know jack. Which is OK. The downside of all of this, being that we create a blog, add our own 2 cents, and try to come up with creative posts to critique the team, talk about the team, or analyze the team for the makes and breaks we will be looking for in the beginning of the season – we see it’s already done by others who are doing the same thing, have the same opinions and ideas we thought of, and kills our motivation (note my not ranting on Nowak’s press attack a week ago, talking about the back and front lines, and the current roster, and so forth). We have recently gotten busy work schedules, and often don’t update this besides work and some live game commentary at home(post half since we post once the half is done… editing is a bitch for 45 minutes). The plus side though is that I get to see everything that’s going on, and am not as in the dark (or trying to find LiveWell station) as I was last year.
3 – Spammers are funny. At some points I think the only people who come to our blog are spammers… at least those are the only ones who comment. As the tragedy in Japan is heartwrenching, and a sobering fact that, as powerful as a race (humans) are, we will always succumb to the forces of nature. The fact that spammers are now leaving comments about this, is pathetic.
4 – Some of what I wanted to make commentary of – yay soccer related material for a soccer related blog:
Saturday is going to show us exactly what Nowak has in plan, which at this point many fans watching the comings, goings, and missing persons of our roster make it seem the only plan Nowak has is filling in the holes that are left over. Additions of Valdes, Mondragon, and Ruiz are key, but the lack of depth in the backline has many biting their nails. We have all heard that some trialists and rookies have been taking positions in the backline with the experimentation Nowak created that forced Toni Stahl into a “Bye bye” situation last year again, has us worried.
I would not be surprised if we hear about one more signing either Thursday or Friday for one of the leftover trialists, but, rumors have fooled me before. We still have Houpou (sp?), G.Farfan, and the never mentioned Keon Daniels in practice and camp. There was even a feel good article on Farfan, and mentioned him playing a back position… But these feel good articles have been created before, and eventually lead to a missing persons report for Orozco-Fiscal.
For the midfield, it seems as though Le Toux will be dropping back into that position. As he has a “Get out of Nowak glare for going out of position free” card, this will help position him to drop back on defense and push forward on offense more efficiently. This of course being if he’s around his position. In all likelihood, he will be all over the field, doing what he does best, being himself. Not exactly much has changed for the midfield, except for the addition of Carroll in the early offseason, but I have faith in the mid field.
Ruiz, the “little fish”, which is quite popular at the moment thanks to Lent, has all signs pointing to the idea (fact, we will see) that he wants to at least make a statement this year. I was going to say prove himself, but he has in many regards, to the chagrin of many people hating him. Your hate feeds our motivation to DOOP. In all honesty, my opinion is that this will be the make or break signing of the off-season. What will and does Ruiz do, and will he be up to par with our expectations?
The only fear people have about Mondragon is the straight out of college keeper we have as a backup. Should anything happen (knock on wood) MacMath will have to step up. There are fears of testing a young keeper at this level too early, but again, something we will have to see when it comes to it.
My last and final comment is this… bring on the DOOP! It’s been too long.