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.
Union fans were swept away in the fallout of the bombshell dropped when news of Sebastien Le Toux’s exodus to England was announced on Wednesday, January 18. It had been a seemingly routine day of roster activity, with four young reserve players not having contract options picked up to make way for new players signed and drafted during this off-season. The day has been coined “Black Wednesday” (also due to the later-announced retirement of Veljko Paunovic), however because Union have lost their first real star.
Fan outrage has been abundant and vocal, to the same magnatude that they show support for the side. Union’s Front Office has been besieged with questions of “Why?” and “How could you do this to us?” and the like. The transfer alone would have been devastating enough for the fan base that has grown to love the Frenchman, but the abruptness with which the news was revealed made the impact all the more shocking. Many vow that this pain will linger into the season, especially if those assigned to fill those (purple, pink, or yellow) shoes do not produce to a satisfactory level.
However, this is the reality of professional soccer in these United States. MLS, in the world of football, is a minor league. Teams in more prestigious leagues will come calling for MLS players that show great ability. And, those players will go, because playing in a top-5-in-the-world league, such as the English Premier League in this instance, is a footballer’s dream-come-true. Those of us who appreciate all that Seba has done for this team do not begrudge him one bit for wanting to go. But, here is what the fan base must realize to move on from this: It’s just like breaking up with your first girlfriend/boyfriend.
This was a great relationship. We were always happy to see him, as he was the best part of our (game)day. The adoration was mutual, and things seemed to be going great. Together, the relationship was progressing from nothing, to a playoff berth in just 2 seasons. But, for now, he’s gone, and our world seems crashing down. I almost expect Punchy the Bear to start claiming that the sky is falling (though he might do that anyway when he’s drunk and I wouldn’t know the difference). The fan base wonders how the team is going to function at all without their beloved Sebastien. But, like dating, we must all realize that there are plenty of fish (NO! NOT CARLOS RUIZ!!!) in the sea, and a new relationship will come into our lives and help us get over this one. We’ll both move on, because in the world of football, there is no such thing as marriage. No player stays forever, so we’re in a constant cycle of “dating.”
But this one hurts, because you always remember your first. And Sebastien Le Toux is the first ever star of the Philadelphia Union.
P.S.-Bolton plays Liverpool at 12:30 this Saturday, so I will be watching the pre-match show with bated breath hoping to see Seba on the pitch. But even if it’s not this week, I hope to see him perform in an EPL match at some point very soon. Good luck, Seba!
It’s been just over 2 weeks since Union’s 2011 season came to an end at Robertson Stadium in Houston, TX. That doesn’t mean that I’m any less bitter about the confusing tactics by Peter Nowak that I believe are most responsible for Houston Dynamo advancing. It’s also the reason that it’s taken so long for me to write my final post of the season. Technically, it IS still the MLS season, as Houston plays LA Galaxy in the Home Depot Center for MLS (RBNY-Will-Never-Win-This) Cup. So, before the season expires officially, I figure it was time that I come to grips with Union’s season.
It started with the nromal pre-season mix of question marks and anxiety, mixed with anticipation, that accompanies each sport’s season. It’s a popular baseball saying that “hope springs eternal” as a play-on-words because their sport begins in the spring, as does soccer in the United States. In similar fashion, it felt like hope was springing eternally for this Union side. We saw their potential coming through the end of year 1, and felt like the additional time spent in training was going to make them a decidedly improved team.
But first place? Not even I saw that coming. Not that I’m the most kool-aid-drinking Union fan out there, but I felt really good about the team. I just didn’t see them taking the league by storm out of the gate, winning in a Tim-Tebow-esque manner (not looking competent, but winning nonetheless). They took advantage of teams making the same mistakes Union had the previous season. It was extremely enjoyable being able to chant things like “We’re top of the table” to opposing fans on two levels. 1) It’s a positive chant that doesn’t involve profanity so it’s great when you can be PG-rated and still make the oppositions’ fans angry, and 2) The utter shock they must have all felt that they were hearing it from fans of a 2nd year franchise that finished 3rd-to-last place in year 1.
They did come back down to earth, though. Le Toux took forever to score the way we knew he could. Nowak constantly confused us with his lineups. The rest of the league got better as the season went on. Sporting KC got to actually play home matches. All of these things contributed to Union dropping in the standings, even to the point that they were outside of playoff position. Those are the times that test the resolve of the fanbase. No one knew how this mostly young team would respond to this period of adversity, what with the defense being exposed and the offense not rounding into the form we’d hoped for. Then the captain broke a finger making a save.
The resurgence was nothing short of amazing. I didn’t give Zac MacMath a lot of credit to start out with because of our checkered history with University of Maryland goalkeepers (yes, I mean Chris Seitz). And then the first half of the New England match happened. The only silver lining I could find for Zac was that he didn’t give up any more goals after he put them in a seemingly no-win situation. Little did I know at the time that that second half would become a momentum-generating event in getting this team back into winning. They scored 3 second-half goals, and kept New England out of the net all while playing a very stretched attacking style that left massive counter attacking opportunities all over. The team grew in offensive confidence, and in confidence in their deputy ‘keeper. The defense seemed to regain their early-season form as a response to not having Faryd Mondragon’s commanding voice behind them. It was a period that righted the ship and steered it towards the postseason.
Zac Mac’s time in goal was short-lived in 2011, but the fire was lit. The Union finished strongly enough to qualify for the #3 spot in the Eastern Conference. That is a remarkable achievement for a 2nd-year franchise built on youth. A lot of the players we’ve leaned on are not used to playing this many games in a season against full-grown men; veteran professionals. They had a couple of chances to gain a better playoff position, but the draw in the home finale against Toronto FC and the loss to RBNY didn’t dampen the euphoria of making the playoffs.
They were matched with Houston Dynamo, a team that Union had not lost to in their brief history (2 wins, 2 draws). So, it SEEMED like the ideal matchup to allow Union to play loose. However, it lead to questionable starting lineups and two 1-goal losses in the 2-leg playoff round, which sent Union home for the season. I may never understand why Nowak put two starting lineups out that he had not used at any point of the regular season. I understand that you can’t use the same guys every single game, but the playoffs are not a time for a 4-4-2 team to put out a 5-3-2 and a 4-2-4. I don’t even want to type any more about it because I want to remember the Union season as being a successful one. They improved from 31 points in 2010, to 48 points in 2011. Sebastien Le Toux proved that he wasn’t a 1-season wonder. Danny Califf showed that he’s a great leader even without the Captain’s armband. And, most importantly, this group has developed a hard-working, physically-defensive style that will hopefully keep them in the playoffs for years to come.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
Tonight, 8:30 pm from Robertson Stadium in Houston, TX or on ESPN2 for those of us who aren’t flying to the match.
There isn’t a whole lot that needs to be said about this. The teams have played 3 times this season. They know how each other is going to play. It comes down to execution. In the first match, we were wary of Brad Davis’ free kick ability, and that produced the match’s first goal. They knew that Sebastien Le Toux was a constant threat purely by his work ethic, and that produced the second goal. We know playing Stefani Miglioranzi is a tactic that confuses even his own defensive teammates, and that confusion produced the third and final goal of the match. Union figure to deploy a lineup that more closely resembles the team that finished the match Sunday. The only possible addition to the lineup I can see is if Veljko Paunovic is fully healthy, then Nowak will go with him. Either way, I expect an ambush from the opening whistle. I really feel like Nowak’s message to the team will be to tie the aggregate up in the first half and end the half that way, and worry about the 2nd goal in the 2nd half so they don’t burn themselves out and concede a goal after working hard to tie it.
Fans of the team would like to see Union play this first half the same way that they played the 2nd half in their 2nd match against New England (3 goals scored). I figure I’m going to be a nervous wreck watching Union fight and scratch and claw their way through this match, but I’m fairly certain this will be a fantastic match to watch for neutral observers.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
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
If that seems like a redundant question about Union, it’s because it is. Sebastien Le Toux has been in stellar form the last third of the season. However, he is the only Union player in attack that can make that claim. The addition of Freddy Adu has done little to make this a more dangerous team. So, if Houston only has Le Toux to worry about, and focus their defense on him, how the hell are Union going to score? (insert @FakePeterNowak witticism here)
Veljko Paunovic has been the most frequently-used second striker, until his hamstring issues forced him out of the lineup. He looks to be back in good health, so I’d expect him to be there. However, he tallied just three goals on the season. Danny Mwanga has also recovered from an injury, his being to his right hip. Injuries, and Nowak’s insistence on playing Carlos Ruiz, limited Danny to just 5 goals in his sophomore season. He is a talented and dangerous player when he’s on his game, but I’m unsure that he’ll find his match fitness before the weekend. Jack McInerney netted his only goal of the season early in Union’s 2nd match against Houston.
The point is, while Union’s striker corps is getting healthy, they haven’t shown much, other than Le Toux almost notching a second season of a double-double. They have received contributions from the midfield, but those goals are also scattered among them all, and we never know for certain who is going to start in the midfield (we’ll talk about them tomorrow). For Union to advance out of this round of playoffs, they’re going to have to find the combination that will produce up top. Kinda like Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant surgery.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
What a crazy match. Fifteen minutes in, I’m buying shots for people, and fifteen minutes after that, I’m looking to break the bottle over someone’s head. Marfan to the rescue but jeez, that could have gone a bit more smoothly. Union secured 3 points in the end, which was the most important part of the night. Both sides took turns looking like the better team. Both teams made errors and both took advantage of the other’s errors. And Seba Le Toux…… can’t even say begin to say how great it is that he’s returned to his 2010 form. It may very well come to be that the shipping out of Carlos Ruiz was the MVP of Le Toux’s season. The defense has to deal with the counter attack better, as Andy Najar’s equalizing goal was far too easily conceded. But, we’re focusing on positives here, and that means I’m taking these 3 points and moving on to Sunday…..
PREVIEW: UNION VS. CHIVAS USA
Sunday, October 2, 8pm from the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, CA, on The Comcast Network
Union can breathe a bit easier after securing those 3 points against DC United, however, that doesn’t give them a play-like-crap-because-it-doesn’t-matter card. This match, and every one until the end of the season, matters. Union only have today and Saturday off before having to play late Sunday afternoon (California-wise).
Union will be dealing with a fairly desperate Chivas side, whom Union beat when they played in Chester back on June 25th, 3-2. Chivas sit 4 points behind the final playoff spot, and they’d have to pass by 4 teams to get in. They’ve only got 3 matches left to pull it off. Juan Pablo Angel has played well with his third team of the season, and I expect him to key any charge Chivas will attempt to make towards a wild card spot.
Union, while in a better position, are far from in the clear. They have a game in hand over Sporting KC, but that game in hand, essentially is this match. And this match is a cross-country flight and a match 3 days after another match against another desperate-for-the-playoffs DC United side. I worry that they may not have enough in the tank to pull this one out. I do not, however, worry about Seba anymore. He’s back in double-digits for goals on the season, and is working his way back into the discussion for the team’s most valuable player. The other important development recently, and for the season as a whole, is that the more Farfan, the better. Union have played very well with both brothers on the pitch at the same time. They add creativity and quickness with their feet that helps in attack and possession. Their versatility and ability to play defense has helped tremendously, and this will be key against Chivas. They may be counted on to play more than 1 position in a game.
I feel, after the DC match, that Union have a better than 50/50 shot at winning in LA. Le Toux will score again, and MacMath will clean his act up. I think it’s either a win or tie. I don’t see Chivas being able to beat them, so hopefully 3 more points are on the horizon for the end of the weekend.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
Tonight, 8pm, from PPL Park in Chester, PA. Watch it on The Comcast Network because the weather outside is frightful…
This is the match that was rescheduled due to heavy rains from Hurricane Irene, so it’s all too fitting that tonight’s tilt be effected by rain. They will not need to water the pitch pre-match. If anything, they may need to get some industrial fans to dry the thing out. Roger Torres is short enough, if he sinks in at all, we may lose him. Like, picture-on-the-side-of-a-milk-carton lose him.
The bottom line for this match is that New England is a bad team. The only success Union have had since the first 3rd of the season has been against bad teams, so one would hope that they would take advantage. I really did think last match against RSL would end in a draw, but that was also me assuming that Union knew, at this point of the season, how to defend a short-corner. Er go, I was wrong on both accounts.
And, I am no longer going to put in predictions for the starting XI. I’m just completely confounded by how I can’t once get it right. The one spot I DO know is that Zac MacMath will start in net (although I may have just sent a jinx and Thorne Holder will be the first name on the lineup card) (wait, is that a reverse jinx? I don’t know, fuck it). I want the goal-scoring floodgates to open for Sebastien Le Toux, now that he finally scored from the run of play. Some people say it was bad goaltending that lead to that goal, but that shot was blistered and RSL keeper Nick Rimando did well to be in somewhat the right position to get a piece of it. If you want to see bad goalkeeping, harken back to 2010 and research Seitz, Chris. With Seba no longer carrying a monkey with him on the pitch, hopefully, he’s primed to be the dual offensive threat he was last year.
My prediction is that some of the players will be advised to wear swimmies to prevent them from drowning, but the match will be played, many hot dogs will be consumed (it’s dollar-dog night!), and Union will draw this match because the field conditions will make for a disjointed offensive match.
Nick, the other .5 of Unholy Union
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