Home > Match Review > Back to the DRAWing board

Back to the DRAWing board

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
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  1. September 26, 2011 at 9:46 AM

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