Saturday, April 14th, 3:30 pm from PPL Park in Chester, PA.
While the weather tomorrow is supposed to warm up, I see no proof that our beloved soccer team will follow suit. It’s been said that this matchup pits two similar teams against each other. The only similarities I see that matter are that both Union and Columbus have played four matches, and both have allowed six goals. Union have achieved just a single draw along with three losses, whereas Crew have managed to win two and lose two. That means a five-point differential between the two sides. That sort of differential suggests this season has NOT been very similar for these two teams.
Positives: I won’t be completely negative in this post. The positives are that Union posted a clean sheet defensively last match, and Freddy Adu is back and ready to take a spot leading his club team, hopefully in the same impactful way that he lead the US U-23 Team. Much controversy was aswirl about the decision to not include captain Danny Califf in the lineup. Defenses thrive on consistency, and this was as inconsistent a move as any that Peter Nowak has made during his stewardship over the Union. Califf was reinserted in the starting XI for last match, against Vancouver, and Union did not concede a goal. The bye-week in the match schedule should ensure that the same back four is set to go against Columbus, and that’s a good thing.
Maybe Freddy will be the voice needed to get this team’s offense to put shots on goal. Union need some players with the killer-spirit to out-work the defender and find a way to get the shots within the frame of the goal. Roger Torres being hurt doesn’t help, since he’s one of the guys who’s actually created a goal this season (sad as that is to type). Adu possesses a similar skill set, so with a little help from his striker friends, Freddy may be just what this team needs to right the ship.
I just don’t see that happening. Freddy Adu does have the creative flair to initiate offensive chances. However, he always appears to be on a different page than his forwards, so his passes find no teammate. Unless they’ve actually been practicing a ton in the two weeks since that Vancouver match, I just don’t see them hitting all cylanders on offense yet. I predicted a 1-1 draw, which would still be a step in the right direction. I think they’ll score first, and concede a late goal based on some good work from Columbus, not the result of a defensive error.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
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)
Thankfully, for Union fans, this round is 2-legged. My overall feeling about Sunday’s first leg against Houston Dynamo is that they were doomed from the announcement of their starting lineup, yet put up a great effort, worthy of leaving PPL Park with a zero goal deficit. The inclusion of Stefani Miglioranzi in the starting XI was borderline criminal, and responsible for their minus-one differential. He is an injury or suspension fill-in, at best. There are no logical tactics that should include him in a starting role. He’s not a 90-minute player, he’s not fast, and he’s not even above-average for an MLS player. Inevitably, Nowak would have to sub for him, which isn’t a tactical sub because it’s necessary. I would rather see Juan Diego Gonzalez in Thursday’s match than Miglioranzi, and JDG hasn’t played a single minute in MLS play this season. The difference is I KNOW Miglioranzi hurts this team (Adam Hainault agrees with me).
The positive outlook is that Union were able to threaten Houston’s defense, which had conceded just 3 goals in their previous 5 matches. There was luck involved in Sebastien Le Toux’s goal, as the pass deflected off of the back of the head of a helpless Houston defender. But there was also luck involved in Houston’s first goal (well, their luck was that Nowak started Migs. Oh wait, I’m supposed to be positive in this paragraph). The substitutions were all positive. They created several opportunities for goals, but their inexperience showed. Jack McInerney, for all of his willingness to get forward on well-timed runs, needs to realize that sometimes he needs to be on the ball-side of his defender because he’s not going to win headers too often. Roger Torres, for all of his willingness to play the nicely-weighted through-ball to a surging teammate, needs to realize that his teammates don’t always see the game the way he does (although they friggin should). Freddy Adu, for all of his experience internationally, needs to realize that he is still the new guy on the team and he has much to learn about how his teammates play. McInerney was certainly hurt by his lack of playing time (damn you, Fat Chooch!), and it showed in the waning moments of the match. A little more sophistication in his game probably finds him in a better position to attack the ball and put more threatening shots on goal. Roger finally learned to drop deeper in the midfield to be the conduit from defense to offense. Playing in that manner with Adu also on the field should lead to a more consistent and potent offense (all in due time. I hope this happens Thursday night, but I’m not counting on it).
The best thing to come out of Sunday’s 2-1 defeat is that we have learned Michael Farfan and Seba can step up to the big moment and perform in the playoffs. Their play combining for the response in the 7th minute shows that Seba is not a fluke, and Marfan has cemented himself in the starting XI for the foreseeable future. Speaking of Farfans and positives, Union are very lucky that Gabe was not issued a red card for his wreckless challenge on Danny Cruz. I think the yellow card was the correct decision, especially given that it’s a playoff game and the teams get more levity to play and compete hard. I have no refereeing experience, but if Garfan had been issued a straight red card, I would not have argued it. I would have been really upset at Garfan for the challenge, instead. It was an aerial cross to a stationary winger. Cruz was not making a run behind Garfan, therefore there was no urgent need to win THAT particular pass. If anything, by playing proper body position, Garfan could have easily dispossessed Cruz after Cruz’ first touch on that pass. Worst-case, Houston has the ball on the wing at the foot of someone not named Brad Davis, therefore, it’s not Houston’s most-threatening position. All of that being said, Garfan also did well to compete hard and not pick up a second yellow, so Union’s comeback attempts did not have to come a man down. And he is eligible for Thursday’s match. Which is a positive because….
….it’s one less possibility that Stefani Miglioranzi starts… you knew I was coming back to that, didn’t you.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
…Which is the obvious lead-in to the analysis of the midfield matchup. From my previous posts, and ANY playoff preview you may have read over the past few days, you’ve seen the name Brad Davis. He is the left wing midfielder for Houston Dynamo. He lead the league this season in assists. He’s pretty damn good. The rest of the Houston midfielders, meh, I think they’re just on the pitch to transition the ball from defense-to-Davis.
The Union midfield, I think, will be Justin Mapp, Brian Carroll, Michael Farfan, and……. I don’t know. Should be Roger Torres. Could be Freddy Adu. I still think Nowak wants to suit up. However, I will hate Coach if he starts a second defensive midfielder. The home game, I’m hoping, will be the game Nowak sees as his better opportunity to score goals and come out with a more attack-minded lineup. If they win this first game by 2 or more goals, only then will I not hate Nowak for going with a defensive lineup in the second leg. I know it’s great to have defensively responsible players on the pitch, but the best way to keep the ball out of your net is to keep it nearer to your opponent’s net. Besides, Roger Torres has become much better at winning the ball back in the midfield after turnovers. His skilled feet and field vision will be tremendous assets with Marfan and Mapp on the wings. From this blog to Nowak’s ears….
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
Philadelphia’s recent visit to Kansas City has ended, once again, in a 1-1 tie. This wasn’t a weak tie like earlier in the year, as KC was a real formidable attacking opponent, and both teams had a decent amount of chances. I for one considered this a must win, because it’s better to win now and tie later in such a tight eastern conference race, but various others considered this game a can’t lose considering how well KC has been playing, and we didn’t lose. Which is a plus.
As I have a friend who works at LiveStrong Park, I took the liberty of asking his opinion of the game, which I will rebut / comment on, etc. (PS- he used to be from PA and got a job out there, so he’s fairly unbiased in some senses)
“I thought it was a rather even game from both teams. If I had to say, Sporting Kansas City probably played a little better overall and in different stretches of the game but the Union were able to get Sporting out of their comfort zone of playing the attacking, offensive game they’re used to. Keeping the ball away from the front three of Kei Kamara, Teal Bunbury, and Omar Bravo was how the Philadelphia Union were able to get the draw. Sporting had more chances to score but Philadelphia had better chances to score and that sort of evened things out for both. Both teams played much better than the first time they met in June where the Union pretty much went on a shooting rampage and had nothing to show for it due to a lack of finishing and Jimmy Nielsen. This game, the Union were able to get better chances and were better at finishing or getting in that position to finish while the Defense showed up for Sporting
Where the refereeing has been pretty erratic in MLS this season, I thought it was a semi-fairly called game. I know there will be some Sporting fans who will say that there were some calls that didn’t go our way near the end of the game but it was like that for both teams. From my vantage point, we got away with a few also. I noticed there were stretches where everything was getting called and other times where nothing was getting called. Personally, I like to see them play on as much as possible and see things be physical from both sides but that sort of inconsistency can’t be good for the players trying to guess what kind of mood the ref is in. Definitely thought it was one of the more cleaner games of the season which was good because it was a very physical game. “
Interjection – As he says the officiating was fairly decent, as the ref let the players play on for the most part and tried not to influence the game too much with calling fouls, but there are quite a few moments that Kei Kamara had lost his temper and could have been booked for dissent to the officials (he wasn’t saying “Golly” or “Fargle” if you know what I’m saying) and kicked the ball away in pure disgust clear after the whistle had blown, which is counted as dissent AND time wasting and would count for another booking. Guy needs some anger management. Back to the KC analysis
“Sebastien Le Toux definitely was the star of the game and probably the season for the Union. I haven’t been able to see many Union games this season and I have mainly heard of his play but seeing Le Toux play last night, he definitely is that sort of Striker that you can depend on getting a goal and lifting a team on his shoulders when it’s needed. I also want to commend the Sons of Ben and the Union fans who were at the stadium. I was sitting underneath their section at the tunnel but they were definitely the most vocal and loudest visiting group who has come to Livestrong Sporting Park and we only have two more MLS regular season home games versus Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls. There were definitely more Seattle Sounders and L.A. Galaxy fans at those games when they were here but they were really only vocal after they scored. The Sons of Ben kept it up the entire game and at times, it was hard to hear the Cauldron on the other side of the stadium. I honestly think the Cauldron and the Sons of Ben are two of the best supporters groups in MLS and the Sporting KC and Union fans some of the best fans in MLS. It’s easy to be a Galaxy or Sounders fan when they’re always the top of the standings, are always on national TV, and have guys named Beckham and Donovan on their team. It’s much harder to be a Sporting KC fan when we were last in the East earlier this season and harder to be a Union fan when they were battling their scoring drought and were underachieving earlier this season.
All in all, the result definitely hurt Sporting Kansas City more than the Philadelphia Union. The draw puts Sporting in a tie for 1st with Columbus and Philadelphia in 3rd a point behind both with a game up. That extra game is the key for the Union and gives them a major advantage when it comes to obtaining 1st Place in the Eastern Conference especially when Sporting plays Columbus Wednesday night. I can imagine just with the body language around the team, Columbus is a must win if Sporting wants to think about 1st place in the East and be more comfortable in the top three. To those Union fans who visited LIVESTRONG Sporting Park for the game, I hope you had a good time. I know you’ll probably want to say PPL Park is a better stadium but this place is definitely one of the best places to see a Soccer game.”
Much of what my friend said was true. Late in the game KC finally got an attacking situation going, and was able to start getting Kamara into the game on the wings, which is probably much of why he was getting so frustrated, not at the refs but at our defense. Califf and Valdes must have really been giving him the business. Valdes was authoritative, and does what he often does to confuse fans since he’s a defender, but he was acting more like a counterattacking midfielder with how far up the field he was playing the ball.
Torres is classic Torres and has a keen ability with crossing the ball forward at the right pace for everyone. With how well he’s been playing, it’s frustrating that he wasn’t put in as a starter earlier in the year.
Paunovic was almost non-existent. With his breakout games when he first started, gotta wonder what happened with him. Still love the guy, but he took on Le Toux’s bad touch it seems.
Le Toux has his touch back, and all is right with the world. He had a few chances at sharp angles that a world class striker would have made, but the issue is not his shooting (and how many shots he does take) but it used to be his first touch. Michael Farfan made a beautiful save of Torres’ cross to prevent a goal kick, tapped it to Le Toux who taps it in. Earlier in the year, I don’t think Le2 would have made that goal.
Gabe Farfan is not a defender and let Bravo through on Kamara’s beautiful cross. There was almost no way for MacMath to save that. But, Gabe is still a better option than Nakazawa at back, who was getting burnt every time the ball was near him. Within 5 minutes the positioning was switched, Gabe fell back and Naka went forward, which is a much better option, as Naka was then close to non existent.
Carroll is a beauty still, and Okugo needs to show more of a presence than he has been.
With our flaws, it was a well skilled match from both sides, and either team could have taken the lead at any given moment.
Now, the ill-fated – STANDINGS
As it stands now (as of 6:56 pm on Saturday) Houston Dynamo has beaten FC Dallas and have taken claim of the number 1 spot in the Eastern Conference. Columbus and KC are now tied for 2nd place at 41 points, and we are now in 4th place in the East, holding the 3rd wildcard spot with 40 points, Portland is 37 and holds the 4th spot.
Situational Next upcoming games:
DC plays RSL. They are currently close to contention, but with a win can be competitive.
Columbus plays LA and can reclaim the top position before playing KC this coming Wednesday. A win both game will probably put them as the number 1 spot for the end of the season.
NY plays Portland. NY is at 36 points and Portland is at 37. This currently is for the 4th wildcard spot, but Portland can come up and tie the Union with points if they win this game.
Colorado holds the 2nd playoff spot at 41 points, and is playing San Jose. Probably a win there, but it’s good to know that we aren’t far off from some security.
So, sadly enough, we are rooting for RSL, LA, and a draw in Jersey. I may or may not update after tonight’s results.
|Sporting Kansas City||41||30||6|
|Wild Card Race||PTS||GP||GD|
|New York Red Bulls||36||29||3|
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
Friday, July 29, 7:30pm, PPL Park, Chester, PA (Fox Soccer Channel)
Now that all of this “Let’s put together a collection of MLS players to be massacred by Manchester United” nonsense is over with, let’s move on to the unofficial 2nd half of the season. Union host defending league champ Colorado Rapids in the unusual Friday match. Being that this match happens just 2 days after the “All-Star Game” (It’s a shame that the people who vote for the players don’t actually watch the games, apparently. How the right side of the Union defense was not there is beyond….everyone), I wonder how in-form Faryd Mondragon will be. Granted, he only played in the first half of the match, and it was only in northern New Jersey, but Dragon usually poses with half of the other team to take pictures with his kids, and then gives the media comprehensive interviews, et cetera. There’s a chance that after the photo opportunities and jersey-trading, he didn’t leave Pink Cow Arena until 5am this morning.
For Colorado, Omar Cummings is the one attacking player I fear. I refer to him as “scary-good” for a reason. He played in the “All-Star Game” so I hope he is tuckered out from it. Unless he spent the match standing around studying Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant. In any event, I hope Omar is a bit off of his game. Especially since Rapids are already down Connor Casey who blew out his achilles’ tendon and is done for the year. We here at Unholy Union Blog wish him well and a complete recovery, so that Union can be responsible for kicking his ass next year. Speaking of injuries, the assailant in the gruesome Steve Zakuani leg-breaking is back. Brian Mullan has returned from suspension, having played 85 minutes against New England. If poetic justice truly existed, Casey’s injury would have happened to Mullan instead, but I digress. The other player to look for is Sanna Nyassi, who scored a hat trick against NY (and we thank him for that) 2 matches back. It’s likely that he’ll be up top with Cummings again, in an effort to score against a Union defense that’s better than what Manchester United saw Wednesday night (again HOW IN THE HELL COULD YOU CALL THAT GROUP “ALL-STARS”?????????).
Union are coming off of 2 impressive performances in friendlies against Everton and Real Madrid. There are plenty of positives to be taken out of those matches, as well as some things that need to be ignored. The win against Everton was good, however it must be tempered by the fact that Everton didn’t really care to win that game anyway. They would have been just fine with spending that evening at Harrah’s instead of putting on a good show for our fans. Roger Torres was the star of the game…. where noone attempted to put hard tackles in on him. He played great, in both games, but they’re meaningless friendlies, so no hard tackles to be adminstered means he left his jittery feet at home. They (and by they I mean Carlos Valdes) also learned that sometimes the simple play is the correct play. He whiffed twice on Saturday against Real and it lead to 2 goals. The first was him trying to trap the ball with his raised leg and missing it, the other was opting not to simply play the ball over the touchline but rather faking his opponent out to keep the ball in play. It serves as a reminder to all: make the simple play. Union are not Real Madrid, they are not fancy and electric on the ball. They are a workman-like team that is based on defensive strength.
The lineup I expect will have at least 1 Farfan in it. Ok, that’s a very simple statement to make, since one, Gabe, is the de facto left fullback, but his brother, Mike, acquitted himself nicely against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Traveling Circus, and may be in line for more minutes. At the expense of whom, you might ask? Kyle Nakazawa. Alzheimer’s patients look less lost than Naka did against Real Madrid. It’s no shame to get outplayed by a team I consider to be top-5 in the world. But his obvious lack of ability to find the game in any way was very disappointing. And in twisted Peter Nowak logic, that means Naka will probably start, because, Nowak fills out the lineup card and I don’t. We will see Carlos Ruiz, Danny Mwanga, and Sebastien Le Toux. We’ll also see Brian Carroll, and our normal back 5. Justin Mapp will go back to left wing, ho hum.
What I also expect to see is a 2-1 win for Union. This is the time of the season when 3 points are needed from home matches. This team has gelled well over the course of the season, and I believe these international friendlies have forced them to play more cohesively than any league match has. I’d like for Union to earn a clean sheet, but I fear Colorado’s attack too much to assume a shutout.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
A scoreless draw on the road against a team that hadn’t scored a goal in 3 of its previous 4 matches. That is what Union left San Jose with Saturday night. While Chris Wondolowski was in the lineup (though you wouldn’t have known it based on his high complaint-to-actually playing the ball ratio), they were missing Bobby Convey and Steven Lenhart. The latter two have given Union many problems, so their absense made this a match that should have more closely resembled the thrashing in Toronto. Union dominated possession and chances, yet scored the same number of goals as the ‘Quakes, and yours truly: zero.
As we are now past the halfway point of the season, I can now rip the team for the way that they’re playing, per my promise given during the first YSA Report podcast. My head is still spinning trying to grasp the logic of the Jordan Harvey trade, then we get news that Carlos Ruiz, Veljko Paunovic, and Carlos Valdes were all going to be absent. I understand that the lineup was going to be drastically different than what it should have been. All of the players in the starting XI have played this season. It’s not as if they asked ANOTHER 30-something to come out of retirement to play. I just don’t get how a team that “allegedly” practices together can look so disjointed. Case-in-point: Roger Torres’ header attempt. He was completely unaware that Jack McInerney was in the same zone and in far better position to leverage that head strike likely into the back of the net. THESE FRIGGIN TIES AGAINST INFERIOR TEAMS HAVE TO F*CKIN STOP!!!!!!! It’s great that DC United helped the Union’s cause by beating the NJ Pink Cows, but the team can’t rely on the rest of the league beating each other up so Union stay atop by default. Playtime is over, kids. Get three points when they’re there to be had.
The last place I want to see Stefani Miglioranzi is on the field, trust me. If someone had told me that Migs was going to play all 90 in this match and somehow NOT make an error that directly resulted in a goal, I would have done a “bearfight” in celebration. I’d prefer that he find the seat next to Juan Diego Gonzalez (that is, if anyone can actually find him). He played a solid game in emergency duty, the credit for which will rightly be given to Faryd Mondragon. I’d also like to thank the San Jose organization for having to use UC-Santa Barbara’s facility for their games. It was quiet enough that Migs could hear the directions from Dragon so well that even he couldn’t screw this game up.
I don’t want to see the possession statistics on this match. It will make me want to throw up, and then punch somebody. Or maybe punch somebody and then throw up on them. Either way, I’m going to be in a bad mood when the statistical analysis proves that Union should have won this match by a field goal. Union’s next match is against New England Revolution, the last place team in the Eastern Conference. This match has now become a must-win. If Union really want to prove that they are the top team in the East, then they need to be able to beat the worst teams in the league, regardless of the venue. That’s what happens in leagues everywhere else in the world; the big guys beat up the little guys (I don’t want to hear Manny Pacquiao references). KC was a bad team: scoreless draw, DC just changed their team up mid-week: another draw, playing a short-handed sh*tty team in San Jose: scoreless draw. Road draws build character for bad teams. Union are in first place, but that will not be true much longer if they can’t figure out a way to beat the teams that they should beat.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union