So, I’m assuming that at some point in this match, Union would REALLY like to score a goal. They didn’t seem quite able to achieve that goal against Real Salt Lake, even though RSL played a CCL match just 2 days before. RSL had no extra energy after the 15th minute or so, and Union STILL weren’t able to put one in goal. But I think I know the problem…
It’s because Hackworth is deploying 5 midfielders, yet calling his formation a 4-3-3! Danny Cruz is sort of a hybrid midfield-attack player, but he’s not a striker. And, neither is Gabe Gomez. Or Keon Daniel. Or Freddy Adu, but Freddy is not defensively responsible, so it’s better to keep him at the top of the formation so he doesn’t hurt the team in defense of a wing. The point is that to play a formation with 3 forwards, you need to put 3 forwards on the field. I know Chandler Hoffman is inexperienced, and they like Antoine Hoppenot off of the bench, and they don’t like Jorge Perlazza or Josue Martinez, but 2 of the 4 of those guys have to be starting alongside Jack McInerney or this team may not score 5 goals the rest of the season. They’ve scored 2 goals in the 4 August matches so far, and one of those was an own-goal. 1 goal scored in 4 matches. There are 11 matches left in the season. That would put them at 3 goals from here on out. Fan-freakin-tastic.
I like when a forward will change up his play and drop towards the midfield to open up a defense in a different way. Dropping deep, however, can’t be the ONLY tactic employed by a forward. It happens because those guys are actually midfielders. They fall back on their instincts. Most of the RSL match, I felt like I was watching a 4-4-2 morph into a 4-5-1. Jack likely has to make conversation with the other team’s centerbacks so he doesn’t get lonely. Having forwards not drop deep, when they time runs well, stretches the defense vertically and doesn’t allow the opponent to compress Union into trying to play Spanish-style “tiki-taka” soccer.
My fear in this is that Union will resort to more aerial passes over the top, which they don’t often complete. They result in easy turnovers and continued possession for the opponent, making it even more difficult for the struggling Union to score. They end up chasing the game, and by the time they create a chance, they panic and shoot errantly. I’m getting upset just typing this stuff. The solution for Union is: Put 3 in Columbus’ net tonight and shut me up.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
So, after the debacle and circus of confusion that was the end of Sunday’s match versus DC United, Union are left with a match against a Real Salt Lake squad coming into town off of a short week. RSL defeated Tauro FC of Panama 2-0 on Tuesday in CONCACAF Champions League play. Union are coming off of a 1-1 draw due to the marshmallow-nerves of Dwayne De Rosario. Kidding aside, Union, though better-rested, will be without Sheanon Williams because Mark Geiger felt the need to red card a Union player because he had already shown 2 DC United players the gate. Ray Gaddis will likely get the start in Williams’ absense. Hopefully that Geiger character is nowhere to be found in Chester. Well, he can come to Chester, I just don’t want him as the match official. He can go visit the playground at the school where I was one of the volunteers who helped put it together. Maybe that trip will help him realize that there are more important things in life than his normal, everyday life of ruining MLS matches. But I digress…
The match previews that I haven’t been writing could read all about the same. Technically, I really could have been just mailing it in this whole time by copy-and-pasting such phrases as “Union need more out of Freddy Adu” and “They can’t depend on Brian Carroll to stop every single opposition attack” or “Where the hell exactly is Jorge Perlazza and why did they trade for him, again?”. They’re a frustrating lot to watch. They get about 80-90% of a possession right, then fail miserably to complete it. They’ll break into a great run towards goal, only to slow play down, relegating themselves to passing around the semi-circle in a hopeless probing manner. They’re efforts are most likely to end up on the foot of Carroll, or a defender who figures at least a shot attempt is better than playing keep-away.
RSL are a good MLS team, and have been for many years. This is a match I expect Union will not be able to salvage a draw against. The only thing that could change that is if RSL’s midweek match takes enough out of the team that either fatigue, or the second-stringers, weeken them enough to allow Union a result. Either way, at least this match is on a Friday instead of a Sunday, so I don’t have to go to work the next day.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union (@UnholyUnionNDY)
Union fans have to be pleased with what the team has done over the past month or so. They advanced to the semifinal of the US Open Cup, they’ve put together three consecutive wins in MLS play, and they are playing attractive soccer in doing so. The third item may, however, be in jeopardy in the very near future.
Sporting KC dispatched Union from the US Open by bunkering in defensively and attacking them only on the counter. It was plainly visible, even watching on the team’s website stream, that SKC was going to make the Union offense beat no fewer than 8 players before they would allow a threat on their goalkeeper. And it worked. Union, inevitably, threw players forward in an effort to break the defense down, and it left them exposed at the back and the match was lost. Then again, that had more to do with Roger Espinoza’s Bambi-on-the-ice act than anything. (I wonder if he naturally falls down a lot or if he works on it in training. Whatever, it’s over.) Montreal played somewhat similarly, and if not for the insipired play of Zac MacMath, they almost achieved the same result.
Concensus is that the match against Impact was an “ugly win.” Union fans have been treated to very aesthetically-pleasing soccer since the advent of the 4-3-3 formation that John Hackworth favors. I believe what SuCK, I mean SKC, and Montreal have laid out may be the blueprint for defeating The U, and I foresee future opponents employing it. I see a lot of hollow possession in our future…
The key to the rest of the season is to resist the urge to strike long, over-the-entire-defense passes, aka Hail Marys, because a vast majority of the time, they go over the endline for a goal kick the other direction. The U need to practice proper offensive spacing, smart running off of the ball, and quick recognition of the passing lanes with the ball at their feet. I don’t think they can depend on Zac’s triceps and scrambling defenders to keep them in the game each match. Playing smart in attack will help them combat the negative tactics I believe they will be seeing most of the rest of the season.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
Well, we might as well talk about it…
A quick look back on Nowak before our preview of the DC match-
May 2009 – Named the head coach of the incoming Philadelphia Union.
Brought DOOP into our every day vocabulary.
Petitioned Danny Mwanga to stay in the United States, and subsequently was the Unions first (and first of 2010) draft pick ever. Never heard from the kid since.
Introduced us to the fan favorites of Old Serbian and Big Quick Mondragon.
Lost track of loan information (MOF)
Was unaware of visa information (Daniel)
Smited Superman (David Myrie)
Turned a rag tag bunch of motley into a 2nd year playoff competitor.
Collected more (allocation) money than the monopoly guy.
Rumor (rather word is, cause it’s obvious in legal contractual dissolvements) is that Nowak got paid plenty to leave. Not sure if his application to another job is grounds for dismissal, but as some joked along with the rumor that he had applied to Hearts in the Scottish Premier league – he would take the allocation money with him. Well, it seems if he did get a payout, that’s likely true.
So, what now?
After finally getting rid of the coach who took bath salts towards the end of the 2011 season and ultimately cannibalized his own players, where do we go from here with the leftovers. We already have the talent – Valdes, Gomez, Williams, Carroll, Daniel, Torres (whenever he comes back…), Marfan, Garfan, Martinez. I will lump Adu into this category if he has another stellar play, and Pajoy once he gets two more goals - I do like Pajoy, it just seems that (like Ruiz) the game strategy for the team doesn’t fit into any play with him (which is a coaching fault… cough). We have a team with talent and stars, but what will happen.
Where will Hackworth lead this team? Is he better at developing talent where it seems that Nowak has only stifled it due to some egotistical maneuver that is contrary to any child development guide (See: Mwanga, Adu – twice!, and McInerney)? Is he going to field a team that will benefit the team – play to their strengths as opposed to plugging in holes like you’re playing FIFA 12 and chosen a random team (I’m getting the hang of it)? Not only that – the bottom line question of course is – will he give us results – will he give us wins.
Now none of this “He’s a Nowak lacky”. If you were put in charge while your boss was away for only one week, you’d do what your boss wanted you to do. Why? Well, it’s not your team, you’re his assistant, and you want to keep your job. Hackworth’s been assistanting and coaching since 93 and started with colleges. He’s been the 2nd in line, as well as the man in charge throughout his career – especially for our U-17′s. For now, time will tell. This is a new leaf. This is a new day. We got what we were asking for because, well, we didn’t like what we saw anymore. Too much inconsistency (even with success) and then a complete nuclear melt down will result in a quick turnaround. This is our first growing pain. This is our first MAJOR (non-player) change. Will the team go through another overhaul? Will we bring in a (semi) big name? How much allocation money is left?
The better question…
Will we score goals?
I’m convinced that Arjen Robben bares more resemblance to former U.S. MNT coach and current Egypt MNT coach Bob Bradley than Bradley’s actual son, Michael. And, I can’t be the only one that thinks this.
Manchester City won the Manchester Derby to go even on points with United, ahead on season’s goal differential. Wonderful. This just gives Mario Balotelli another opportunity to completely f*ck City’s season up.
Real Madrid captured their league title this week. Congratulations! How’d your Champions League season go? Anyway, here’s a team with a manager who is very set in his ways, some of his players don’t like him and disagree with his tactics. Yet, they go through with the game plan like professionals. And their leading goal-scorer is a midfielder. Is THIS where Nowak gets his ideas from? Because I totally buy the parallel that Freddy Adu = Mesut Ozil and Michael Farfan = Cristiano Ronaldo. Yeah. Sure.
I don’t even know why I just made that Union-Real Madrid comparison
Union play a 1pm PST match in a stadium full of people who tailgate with lattes. And they’re owned by Drew Carey. All they do is purchase the right to host the US Open Cup final every year to give them the advantage in winning a tournament that most of MLS doesn’t care about. I’m still pissed about the Flyers being down 2-1 to the Devils. I need a Union win tomorrow.
-Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union
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)
This is the weekly post where Dan and Nick square off to see whom can better predict the outcomes of 5 matches from the MLS slate. The email happened as follows:
Montreal v Toronto; Columbus v New York; SKC v LA; San Jose v Vancouver; DC v Seattle; RSL v Colorado; Portland v Chivas
DK: Not like I’ve been posting anything on the blog to begin with, but it’s still nice to not have to worry about a “pregame” post commenting about how we don’t have faith in the team (read: Management).
NY: Dan, just because Union don’t have a match doesn’t mean that you and I can’t poorly predict the outcomes of the rest of the MLS weekend slate. Let’s begin, shall we?
I’ll take Union’s 2 biggest geographic rivals, New York and DC to start. New York seems to have been buoyed by the fact that Luke Rodgers is not going to be able to return to the team due to visa problems. He seems like a jackass. New York, on the road, is going to continue their We-play-better-without-Luke run of form and defeat their hosts, Columbus, 3-1.
DK: I think NY IS better without Luke – seriously, I hate the guy… then again there aren’t many opposing strikers that I don’t hate. But NY is traveling to Columbus, who doesn’t look too awfully shabby, but they’ve only played 3 games, and one was Toronto. I’ll still give it to home field advantage and say that Columbus over takes NY, but 2-0. That, or Henrey places the ball in the net a few times (note: I didn’t say kick).
NY: DC United looked scary-good last week, and they are hosting Seattle, which should dedicate this match to the memories of Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley, both of whom died on April 5, in 1994 and 2002, respectively. Ok, so they won’t, but wouldn’t it be otherworldly awesome if Sounders donned a flannel-pattern kit for this match as a tribute? Pearl Jam and Soundgarden as a postgame concert? Might be the only way that DC would sell as many tickets as Seattle averages. Be that as it may, this will be the game of the week, with DC winning 3-2.
DK: 2nd pick is the teams from states in the middle west that fall into a whole in the map. RSL vs Colorado. RSL is at home, but they just recently played Montreal on Wednesday, and won only 1-0. You’d think they’d notch a few more goals on that one, but you can’t complain about a team with a 4 win and 1 loss start (I wish I could talk about a team with that start). This is early to call, but obvious as a possible playoff match preview and the current battle for top of the West. Note: RSL has a 6 game unbeaten street against Colorado, and I think this will continue on to 7. RSL over Colorado 2-1.
NY: Civil war! The first MLS regular season meeting between Montreal and Toronto will be a snoozer. TFC is still seeing visions of Herculez Gomez scoring goals creeping behind their centerbacks, and Montreal hasn’t found their MLS-level game yet. However, they earn a draw, 1-1, based on home field advantage.
DK: I too think that Montreal and Toronto will be a tie. It’s just how much of a level of bore and ‘potential’ do you want to witness for this match. Leave it in Canada and let us not suffer a 0-0 game.
NY: Runner-up for match-of-the-week is Sporting Kansas City hosting LA Galaxy. It’s the runner up because LA is not playing well right now, otherwise, it’s a 4-0-0 SKC hosting the defending MLS Cup Champions. I see SKC winning this one 2-1, and staking early claim to the title of early frontrunner for this year’s title. And, commence fanning the rumor flames that KC can exercise their contractual rights to Herc Gomez to bring him in on-loan once the Clausura is over, and he likely wins the title there, too.
DK: Again we’re picking the same outcome. SKC at home is similar to what LA was last year. Not only that, SKC has momentum – and talent. Right now LA only has piles of cash. Even though I doubt Gomez will come back to play for KC at any point in time, in the near future KC will easily handle what LA brings and Kamara will notch 2 goals easy. 2-1 also.
NY: And I need a relative gimmie, so I’ll close with Timbers hosting Chivas. It’s well-documented through these posts what my opinion of Chivas is. I know they didn’t follow orders 2 weeks back in beating RSL, but that was an aberration. That idiot with the chainsaw will get to celebrate a home victory, and cut into that log a few times in doing so. Portlandia 3-1.
DK: Yes Portland’s at home, and that buffoon will likely have fun celebrating a few goals (seriously, what are you compensating for with that chainsaw) – but I don’t want him celebrating with that chainsaw. I get the gimmick, I get the tradition, I just don’t like it. And in that I’m saying that he won’t be celebrating and this will end in a 0-0 tie. Don’t you like the way I make my picks?
NY: And in closing, with a bonus prediction, I’ll predict that Union don’t lose this weekend. It might be the only thing I get right.
Summary: NY: Columbus 1-3 New York, DC 3-2 Seattle, Montreal 1-1 Toronto, SKC 2-1 LA, Portland 3-1 Chivas USA
DK: Columbus 2-1 New York, RSL 2-1 Colorado, Montreal 0-0 Toronto, SKC 2-1 LA, Portland 0-0 Chivas USA
This is the weekly post were Nick and Dan morph into pathetic excuses for handicappers. Enjoy!
NY: Dan, since you have deferred picks to me this week, I’m going to take advantage and pluck all of the easy home winners. Not drawers. Winners.
DK: Yea, I have a shit ton to do and have to catch a train in 30 minutes. Thanks for picking the obvious ones… GFY (I’ll tell ya what that means later)
NY: Seattle v Houston. Seattle just wins at home. I’m convinced that Drew Carey put some magical contraption inside of the Space Needle and it causes lots of Seattlites to attend, and for opposing teams to not deal well with the field surface. If only Union could plant a similar device somewhere under the Commodore Barry Bridge… Seattle 2, Houston 0.
DK: My first pick for the week is New England vs Portland: I have no faith in New England, but I don’t think Portland is a good travel East team (much like the entire eastern conference is full of terrible travel teams, period). If you’re watching this, I’ll feel sorry for you, it’s probably bound to be a shitty game (although the weather really nice) – I pick a 0-0 tie.
NY: TFC v San Jose. San Jose flat-out stinks (hoping no one returns fire for me being a Union fan…ok…coast is clear). I know TFC is missing Torsten Frings. I hate that guy anyway, as I still haven’t forgiven any German international who was part of that 2002 World Cup team that eliminated the U.S. DAMN YOU OLIVER KAHN!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, wait, yeah, um… TFC holds serve at home 1-0, because, again, San Jose stinks.
DK: Vancouver vs DC: East can’t compete on the west. Vancouver (and Le Toux) will continue success at home with a nice win. 3-1 Vancouver with De Ro notching their only goal, and Le Toux getting a goal and assist.
NY: Columbus v Montreal: Two directions that my opinion of Montreal Impact in MLS can go. They played their home-opener last week in front of over 58,000 people and drew Chicago Fire 1-1. This says that either a) Chicago is very capable of handling greatly adverse conditions therefore Union should be worried about them when they play at home (yikes!!!), or b) Montreal is not ready for MLS league play yet because they couldn’t even get a win in front of all of those screaming, French-Canadian lunatics. I go with b) so Columbus wins at home 2-0.
DK: RBNY vs Colorado: We all hate red bull. Colorado didn’t show much promise against are decent, but mismatched union, but capitalized on our mistakes. Expect mistakes to run rampant on NY side. Colorado 1-0.
NY: Real Salt Lake v Chivas USA: Chivas = HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! RSL ftw 4-1 (And that might be generous. I was nice and gave Chivas a goal)
DK: Gimme pick of the week (year). Chivas loses easily, 3-0 for RSL.
NY: Chicago v Union: As I alluded to in the Columbus/Montreal preview, the fact that Chicago went into Montreal and earned a draw in those conditions leads me to believe that they are playing plenty well enough to handle whatever lineup Nowak decides he will throw out there. However, based on the chances Union created during their match against Colorado, I’m encouraged that they’re finding their good form. However (again), they played a lot of that second half with Colorado’s Jeff Larentowicz red-carded. Lest we forget, Union conceded a goal in that time before they scored one. If you draw a team when you’re playing with one more player than they are, I can’t pick you to win against a full-strength side. Plus, if I remember correctly, Toyota Park is a relatively-narrow pitch, and Union never deal with those very well. Especially if Nowak plans on deploying is 3-5-2 again. On THAT field, those 5 midfielders will be stretched from sideline-to-sideline and almost standing next to each other. And then there’s this mess with Danny Califf…don’t even start…my head’s beginning to hurt… Chicago 1 Union 1.
DK: I give 2 weeks until Califf gets traded due to the bullshit going on. You never speak up against a coach, but you never speak up against a coach with an ego who expects you to already know what he’s thinking. The asshat. Anyway, I say experimentation in this weird lineup finds some success, but won’t overpower Chicago. I go with a tie 2-2. Now I have to catch a train.
NY-Seattle W over Houston, Toronto W over San Jose, Columbus W over Montreal, Real Salt Lake W over Chivas, and Chicago draw Union (1-1)
DK-New England draw Portland, Vancouver W over DC, Colorado W over New York, Real Salt Lake W over Chivas, and Chicago draw Union (2-2)
Bonus prediction!!!!!!!!!!! Dan has to catch a train, my guess is he catches that train, and because it’s SEPTA, catches something from said train. No preditiction on what though. We’re all probably better off not knowing. Enjoy the games!
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)
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)