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Post-Match + Pre-Match = ….I Don’t Know, But I’m Happy!

September 30, 2011 1 comment

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

Match Preview: Union vs. DC United

September 28, 2011 1 comment

Thursday, September 29 @ 8pm from PPL Park in Chester, PA, televised by ESPN2 (with College Football Live preceding the match, it’s not a live sporting event, so we won’t be delayed from seeing the whole match….at least I think so….)

The last meeting between these teams was a 2-2 thriller, and at this point of the season, with playoff lives at stake, this match promises to be at least as exciting.  United are coming off of a 4-1 home decimation of Real Salt Lake, and Union are back home after a moderately successful trip to Sporting KC where they earned a 1-1 draw.  DC brings to Philly the leagues leading scorer, Dwayne De Rosario, who is also in the lead for the Nic Cage Award, given annually to the worst actor in the process of a dive.  Video of his award-nominating performance can be seen in the latter stages of the match against Chivas USA from September 21st.  The best part of that sequence is that he didn’t convert the penalty that he suckered the ref into.  Karma made that save (I know it looked like a goalkeeper did, but there had to be some higher power involved to right the injustice the ref allowed.  Even Karma knows that MLS referees are buffoons).  Nothing, otherworldly or otherwise, kept DeRo off the scoresheet against RSL.  He scored all 3 of his hat trick inside of 10 minutes.  By the 32nd minute of that match, DC reduced Real to a collective pile of poop stain due to DeRo crapping all over them. 

Three goals and an assist is pretty thorough domination, such as will be fought against by the likes of Carlos Valdes and Danny Califf.  I can say that with certainty, because those are 2 guys that I KNOW will be in the starting XI.  And MacMath, for now.  I expect Sheanon Williams back, but that’s not a guarantee because, well, Nowak fills the lineup card out.  Sheanon probably got his concussion trying to deduce the logic in his manager’s lineup selections.  Or trying to figure out which Farfan is which.  But my money is on the prior.  Anyway, the point is that I have not the foggiest clue what the full composition of the Union midfield would be.  When Morgan Langley is starting on the left wing, I won’t even bat an eye;  I’ve been programmed against it.  Would it kill us to get some Danny Mwanga from the outset?  Sebastien Le Toux is back in form, scoring goals regularly, and I think he can get himself back into the double-double club by being reunited with his strike partner from last season.  That being said, Nowak will probably start Freddy Adu at forward.  Or Joe Tait.  Or himself.

The perilous part of this match is that a win doesn’t necessarily put them in an ideal place in the standings.  The teams are so bunched up, point-wise, that the top six teams are separated by just four points.  And, those teams all seem to have matchups with each other coming in these last few weeks.  This means that a win against DC may provide only temporary breathing room in the playoff chase.  That being said, the key to winning this match, or even securing a single point, is to stop De Rosario.  Andy Nahar and Charlie Davies (with just 2 fewer goals than DeRo) are equally dangerous, but Dwayne is the lynchpin.  I look forward to Union raising their game as the playoffs are just on the horizon.  This is a winnable game, though I’m torn between believing that or the match being a draw.  I’ll say win, and hope I’m right.

Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union

Back to the DRAWing board

September 24, 2011 1 comment

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.

Eastern Conference PTS GP GD
Houston Dynamo 42 31 0
Columbus Crew 41 29 -2
Sporting Kansas City 41 30 6
Wild Card Race PTS GP GD
FC Dallas 46 30 3
Colorado Rapids 41 30 1
Philadelphia Union 40 29 6
Portland Timbers 37 29 -5
New York Red Bulls 36 29 3
D.C. United 35 27 -1
Chivas USA 32 30 -2

WINNING

September 19, 2011 2 comments

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.

Match Preview: Union vs. Columbus Crew

September 16, 2011 1 comment

Saturday, September 17th, 7:30pm from PPL Park in Chester, PA

So………

The bright side of last week is that they went from letting up 4 first half goals against New England to keeping a clean sheet for 3 consecutive halves.  The dim side is that their last 4 halves of goal-scoring go 1 – 3 – 0 – 0.  Just when we think Nowak gets it and he keeps Freddy Adu and Roger Torres together in the starting midfield and the goals will arrive like the rain we’ve had this last month, they drag us through a scoreless draw against Portland.  I no longer feel the need to analyze this matchup, or any other matchup for the rest of this season.  No matter how much logic is deduced from it, this team consistently defies it.  Columbus has a few players missing because of red card suspension, yellow card accumulation, minor injury, and maybe someone will lose track of time inside Harrah’s Casino.  Whatever the lineup Crew put out there, they are still in first place, and they beat Union last month because they are the better team.  Union don’t have enough consistency in their starting XI, and it’s no coincidence that they have no consistency on the field.

Here is what I would like to see from Nowak’s lineup on Saturday night:

Freddy and Roger need to be in the midfield.  Ol’ Serby Bastard needs to sit one game so Jack Mac can get a starting run.  Pair Jack with Danny Mwanga.  Let Brian Carroll rule the defensive midfield.  Alone.  Keep Stefani Miglioranzi OFF THE GODDAMNED FIELD!!!!!!!!!!!   Sorry about that.  Also, do NOT play with 3 defenders in the back unless they are down by 3 goals.  And, is it too much to ask a sports league that deals with a large number of foreign players to not screw up VISA paperwork?

Dan K. thinks this match is a 2-1 win for Union.  I scoff at his optimism.  If Union win this, they’ll score 3 goals.  This match, however, is destined to be a draw, as I have less faith in their present form.  I’m still going to watch every second of it, but I no longer expect wins, even at home.  I’ll call it 1-1.

Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union

The magic number is….

September 12, 2011 1 comment

That’s the MINIMUM amount of games left in the season.  Even though I apparently had a blackout fit, while at PPL Park, between 7:30 and 9:40 pm on Saturday, I still have hope.  We didn’t just tie two of the worst teams in the league, at home, in a row.  We didn’t fall 4-1 against the league’s worst scoring offense.  We aren’t behind Kansas City in the standings……..

Wait.

PANIC

Should we start panicing?  That’s the ultimate question.

All year we didn’t play pretty.  When it looked as if there was some formation and cohesion, our striker leaves us, we pick up a new player, we get rid of another player, and our heads spin and hurt from trying to pay any attention to this.  There are moments where we play great soccer, and just like in the beginning of the year, we play GREAT, and leave with only a point because we can’t score.  All we can do is scratch our heads.

And then there’s travesties that put us down by a large enough deficit where it seems like we can’t come back from it.   There is no excuse for us to have gone down by 3 goals to New England.  There’s almost no excuse not to score a goal against a team with as bad a road record as Portland.  No excuse to start playing against Portland like you’re playing for a tie, when you’re the better possessing team.  There’s just nothing.  There are no answers, only more and more questions.

It all comes down to 7 games in an entire month span, as we are currently in 3rd place with a game in hand overall.  In these games we play:
Columbus Crew at home – currently leading the eastern conference by first tiebreaker (wins)
SKC at KC – currently second by losing said tiebreaker
DC at home – currently ranked 10th, and holds the final playoff spot

This is almost half of our games, all eastern conference, all in a row.  We are 4 points behind both KC and Columbus.  Between these two games we need no less than 4 points, 6 preferred.  Doing this will help seperate us from the wild cards, and gain on the only 2 eastern teams ahead of us.  If only I could easily say “piece of cake” when in actuality this is going to be a difficult thing to witness.  The DC game is a clear must win, as it will put them down and us forward, adding to the seperation.

The next two games are West Coast games, visiting Chivas (always a joke) and Seattle (you’re looking a little green).  The toughest part about the Chivas game would be the travel, but I would hope to expect a win here.  Seattle is always tough at home, and I would hope, like every other game, we would be able to tie this one.

The final two are Eastern Conference.  By this point in time, I would expect we would know our playoff future, or at least the situation thereof.  If we don’t completely blow the 3 eastern conference games our fate should be in our hands.
TFC at home
NYRB in Jersey.

Needless to say, TFC should be a win hands down.  And by saying this, it will probably be a tie.
The NYRB game, well, we don’t want babies to cry, but if we lose… just saying.

This is going to be a hellish month for all union fans…

Categories: Uncategorized

What the hell just happened? And,…. what happens next?

September 9, 2011 4 comments

4-4

That’s how the boxscore of Union vs New England Revolution reads.  Those who watched the entire match know that it’s something else.  We saw 2 games in one night:  one that finished 4-1 Revs, and another that finished 3-0 Union.  Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities begins with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” and it’s that kind of either-end-of-the-spectrum night that Wednesday night was.  The worst-of-times/age-of-foolishness first half saw Union unable to defend a set piece and allowing a guy (AJ Soares) to score his first ever MLS goal.  From watching the play, you’d have thought he was their leading scorer.  Soares knew that if he struck the header cleanly, there was no chance for Zac MacMath to keep it out of the net.  There was a greater chance that Zac would have lost an appendage if he had made contact.  Regardless of who is held to blame for Soares running free, it demonstrated a lack of defensive awareness, and the perils that can be immediately presented.  The foul that lead to the penalty kick was another play where lack-of-awareness was the culprit.  I don’t agree with the foul call at all.  Be that as it may, the attacking player was running towards the corner flag, and Stefani Miglioranzi was in position to defend that.  He was not, however, in position to win the ball off of the throw-in.  He’s just not fast enough (must be those cement shoes I keep talking about, you know, the ones that should have him anchored to the bench).  So, he makes the risky decision, and we know the result: 2-0 down to the the lowest-scoring team in the league, before the Sons of Ben could even break into “4 Leaf Clover.”  The 3rd conceded goal was an example of what can happen when a midfielder is playing in defense.  I like Gabe  Farfan, but he, as everyone at this point knows, is not a fullback.  It’s just not what he is naturally adept at.  Therefore, I was not surprised when he was caught marking 2 New England attackers in the 6-yard box, and that play resulted in a goal.  He is just not naturally a defender and tracking a cross in the air is not his strong suit.  He underestimated the flight of the ball, made a great effort to change the cross’ course, but  to no avail.  He shouldn’t be in that position, and it showed on that play.  Skipping over Roger Torres’ goal, we go to Benny Failhaber, I mean, Feilhaber collecting a failed clearance, and not having anyone actually close out on him so that he could chose which loop of the net to hit.  As with the goal scored by Kyle Beckerman in the loss to RSL, chasing a player from behind IS NOT MARKING HIM!  Note to Union players (not that I think any of them read this blog):  if you see one of your teammates trailing the guy with the ball and he can’t seem to catch up, STEP UP AND WIN THE FUCKING BALL INSTEAD OF LETTING THEM SHOOT ON YOUR NET!!!

Now that I’ve vented the negative, on to the best-of-time/age-of-wisdom portion of the post.  The wisdom was unearthed by Roger Torres.  The diminutive playmaker used the unorthodox play to catch Matt Reis off guard and breathe life into a Union side on life support.  The ball played into him by Sheanon Williams should have been played back to Williams with one touch.  That play would have been a threatening scoring chance in itself.  Roger, however, deftly turned on a quick pivot, and neatly bent his shot around Reis into the top far corner.  The shame of the first 45 was that this was the only goal Union had to show for their solid play in controlling possession and creating chances.  Half-time couldn’t have come at a better time.  I thoroughly enjoyed the further “wisdom” of Coach Peter Nowak in getting Miglioranzi the hell off of the field, and removing Gabe Farfan.  Even better, was the he replaced those two with Mike Farfan and Danny Mwanga, in effect forcing his team into playing a 3-4-3.  That is a much better “kitchen sink” formation than in matches past.  The old version of the desperate offensive tactic would have 4 forward trying to figure out how to not get in anyone else’s way.  This version had 3 attacking mids (Marfan, Adu, Torres) balanced centrally by Brian Carroll, with 3 forwards (Ol’ Serby Bastard, Le Toux, Mwanga).  It was a dream scenario, seemingly, to get both Adu and Torres on the field from the start, but it happened, and was a good move proven in the first 10 minutes of the latter half.  The 3 forwards put more pressure on New England than they knew what to do with, and Danny Mwanga’s soft first-touch allowed him to turn on the ball and send a deftly-placed pass into the path of Freddy Adu.  Adu may be a bust in the soccer world to-date, but his finish was confident and poised.  It also let the audience know that the match was far from decided.  Then came the Sebastien Le Two show.  The first of his (Le) two goals was set up by his Academy Award-winning performance in framing Pat Phelan for tackling him in the box.  Phelan was watching the ball going across the face of goal after the flick-on header.  He wasn’t aware that Seba was where he was, and his own attempt to usher the ball harmlessly over the endline turned into the 3rd Union goal.  Seba created the contact, like an NBA player would do to get to the free throw line.  The thoroughly-confused referee bought it, and Seba finshed the play off with his 4th PK on the season.  And the capper was a Le Two’s second goal of the game, and second of this week that he lashed in on a volley played to him perfectly off the Ol’ Serby Bastard’s Ol’ Serby Shoulder.

In the aftermath, the post-match headlines read that Union came back from two 3-goal deficits to earn a point.  We’re lead to believe that this is a positive result.  However, before the match began, all Union fans looked to this match as the cure-all for the rut they’ve been in where a draw is the inevitable outcome.  They’ve fallen behind Columbus and Sporting KC in the Eastern Conference standings, and three points from this tilt would have been greatly welcomed.  So, seeing O.S.B. kick a field goal over the crossbar, head a ball wide, shoot another point blanker even wider, among many other chances, makes me think that 4 goals was underachieving.  The comeback was riveting, without a doubt.  I felt pride in this team for overcoming the adversity.  However, their adversity was self-inflicted (see opening paragraph).  The best thing about this match is that the next one is only 3 days later.  Speaking of which…

Saturday, September 10, Union vs Portland Timbers from PPL Park in Chester, PA, 7:30pm on The Comcast Network

The third of their 3-matches-in-8-days odyssey has them hosting the Portland Timbers.  The Timbers handed Union their second loss on the season, way back in early May.  Portland has won their last 2 league matches, but they haven’t played since 8/24 which was a 1-0 win over Chivas USA.  I perused their schedule/results page on the team website and it shows that they still have trouble winning away from home.  I hope this continues.

The other thing I hope continues is the midfield partnership of Freddy Adu and Roger Torres.  They are so dynamic on the ball that scoring chances seem possible every time the team possesses the ball over midfield.  The necessary change is to not have more than one defensive midfielder.  It’s a match where three points are desperately needed.  Not that it can be expected, but it would be nice to see a replica of the second half against New England on Saturday versus Portland.  Union seem to play better with a fire lit under them, as would be the case when you trail a crappy team by 3 goals.  Nonetheless, they played very well because they made runs into the offensive half that allowed them to spread the Rev defense out.  This made it easier for Union to keep possession, and more importantly, keep possession away from their own goal.  Having Adu and Torres together is the creative attacking quality this side can be at their best with, and will allow them to put on a better showing for the fans.  I hope Freddy’s late-game cramping against New England doesn’t prevent him from starting in this match.  Prediction:… fuck it, I have no idea anymore.

Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union