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Well Then,…..That Was…..Yeah…..Not Good…

Last night’s match against New Jersey Pink Cows was an exercise in….I’m not exactly sure what.  It was frustrating, that’s for sure.  I’ll be interested to see Philly Soccer Page’s stat wrap on this match for the passing percentage.  I’m going to guess it was in the range of “pathetic” and “putrid,” hovering just above “vomitrocious.”  The Man of the Match, unequivocally, is Faryd Mondragon.  This was also possibly his best match as a member of Union.  Without his spectacular play, this match would have ended at LEAST 3-0 (Disclaimer:  Luke Rodgers blows.  If you run your mouth, don’t kick a field goal from 5 yards away from the goal line, dumbass.  That one, Mondragon had nothing to do with.)

As expected, Nowak deployed two central defending midfielders, Brian Carroll and Amobi Okugo.  Also as expected, Nowak deployed someone we did NOT expect to see in the game AT ALL, let alone in the starting XI, Zach Pfeffer.  NJPC wanted the win more, and it was evident.  They fought harder for the ball in the midfield, they were more threatening going forward, and their goal came from an attack down the right flank.  All of those were expected.  The unexpected aspect of this match was the piss-poor passing (say that 5 times fast), flaccid attack, and visible confusion.  I got the impression that if I tried to explain the concept of the “overlapping run” to the team, half of them would have gotten a concussion, and/or had smoke coming out of their ears.  Their play would have been dismissable in game #4, but it is completely inexcusable in game #34.  They didn’t trot out an entire reserve team, therefore this was an embarassment.

I understand that Union made the playoffs already and this match meant infinitely more to NJPC (*cough*and MLS*cough*), but not having to play in the wild card round was DEFINITELY worth playing hard for.  And they failed the estimated 1,200 supporters who made the trek to North Jersey.  My take on this game was that Union should have played more loosely offensively from the outset.  They had nothing to lose in this match, so getting stretched defensively and conceding a goal wasn’t a big deal.  My problem with this match wasn’t the result, so much as how it came to be.  Far too often, when attacking the final third, whatever player was on the ball would pick his head up to look for a place to go with his pass.  What he saw was players standing stationary, and others moving either towards a defender, or already being tightly marked.  This lead to giveaways, overly-ambitious passes (aka Torres-balls), or the player dribbling too much and losing possession because no one seemed to be on the same page.  Players looked at each other the way a quarterback and wide receiver do when the receiver runs an out and the quarterback throws the ball expecting a go-route.  Except in soccer, while they’re bitching at each other trying to figure out who is wrong, their opponents are advancing the ball and attacking The Dragon.

My biggest fear coming out of this match is that they have now put themselves in the very real position of having to play their first playoff game on the road, in the wild-card round.  It’s is easily conceivable that this doesn’t happen, but they could have eliminated the possibility last night and they didn’t.  Anyway, what I fear is that they trot out the same type of offensively-castrated lineup that match as they did last night.  If that is the case, I’d expect the result of that match to be the same as last night.  Therefore, I hope the results of this weekend’s matches fall in Union’s favor and they end up in 2nd place in the conference so that we can see them, in at least one playoff game, play a lineup capable of winning the match.

-Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union


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