Match Preview: Union vs Toronto FC
Saturday, October 15, 4pm from PPL Park in Chester, PA, televised on Comcast SportsNet
Well, lookey what we have here: A chance to cement a spot in the 2011 MLS Playoffs. What a long, strange trip this has been. Union host Toronto FC, whom they thoroughly embarassed during their romp through Canada back in May. Not that I expect TFC to concede 6 goals, but I hope there will be a similar amount of DOOP-ing done on home field, with what’s at stake by taking 3 points. Toronto is an improved side. They brought in two very highly accomplished and formidable players in Danny Koevermans and Torsten Frings. Koevermans has 7 goals in just 9 games (yikes!!!) and Frings is a midfield presence with loads of top club level and international level experience that makes this a very different opponent than the one Union netting a 6-pack against.
That being said, this is the final home game of the regular season for Union, and we here at Unholy Union will both be among those who get to go to pitch level before the match. This means that we expect nothing less than an all-out effort to repeat the result they last had against TFC. Union are 5th in the league in goals scored, Toronto is dead last. Doing the simple math there means this should be a routine win. I would like it to be in the 2-0 or 3-0 range. Koevermans seems as if he is the Dutch Master, as he shreads MLS defenses to basically score a goal per game. I think it would be a credit to this back line to keep him off of the score sheet, and a worthy test heading into the post-season. Bear in mind, I also considered New England a vastly inferior and impotent opponent……. until they scored 4 first-half goals against us. The differences here are that Zac MacMath is more seasoned than he was against the Revs. That match was his first start. He’s gone on to show that he can shut a team out completely, though his ankle injury may prove to be costly, as it almost was against Seattle. It makes it difficult to jump and parry crosses when he can’t stably jump off of that leg.
The defense has been, for a lion’s share of the season, reliable and stout. The offense has been, we’ll say, inconsistent. If I wanted to be less nice, I would say it’s been downright frustrating. It took Brian Carroll, yes the defensive midfielder Brian Carroll, to realize that when the ball is being advanced down the field by an attacker, it benefits him to have other people running with him. Too often, Union have been left needing one player to make the incisive run into the open space in the best available shooting position, yet that player is nowhere to be found. They have seemingly solved the midfield jumbling issue they had through the first half of the season, and the scoring is more consistent. I watched the second half of that New England game, and I have the confidence that this Union side is capable of 3-goal halves. That is not my expectation here, but I would like to see the play-making that creates that play evident in this match. There is not more time for Peter Nowak to fiddle with his lineup, with just 2 matches remaining. The team he puts out there for this match is likely to be the same we will see against NJPC in the finale, and in their first playoff game. Therefore, I need to see that XI in good form. That means solid defense and the offense to make the defensive work pay off with wins, not scoreless draws.
Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union