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First One Leg, Then the Other

Thankfully, for Union fans, this round is 2-legged.  My overall feeling about Sunday’s first leg against Houston Dynamo is that they were doomed from the announcement of their starting lineup, yet put up a great effort, worthy of leaving PPL Park with a zero goal deficit.  The inclusion of Stefani Miglioranzi in the starting XI was borderline criminal, and responsible for their minus-one differential.  He is an injury or suspension fill-in, at best.  There are no logical tactics that should include him in a starting role.  He’s not a 90-minute player, he’s not fast, and he’s not even above-average for an MLS player.  Inevitably, Nowak would have to sub for him, which isn’t a tactical sub because it’s necessary.  I would rather see Juan Diego Gonzalez in Thursday’s match than Miglioranzi, and JDG hasn’t played a single minute in MLS play this season.  The difference is I KNOW Miglioranzi hurts this team (Adam Hainault agrees with me).

The positive outlook is that Union were able to threaten Houston’s defense, which had conceded just 3 goals in their previous 5 matches.  There was luck involved in Sebastien Le Toux’s goal, as the pass deflected off of the back of the head of a helpless Houston defender.  But there was also luck involved in Houston’s first goal (well, their luck was that Nowak started Migs.  Oh wait, I’m supposed to be positive in this paragraph).  The substitutions were all positive.  They created several opportunities for goals, but their inexperience showed.  Jack McInerney, for all of his willingness to get forward on well-timed runs, needs to realize that sometimes he needs to be on the ball-side of his defender because he’s not going to win headers too often.  Roger Torres, for all of his willingness to play the nicely-weighted through-ball to a surging teammate, needs to realize that his teammates don’t always see the game the way he does (although they friggin should).  Freddy Adu, for all of his experience internationally, needs to realize that he is still the new guy on the team and he has much to learn about how his teammates play.  McInerney was certainly hurt by his lack of playing time (damn you, Fat Chooch!), and it showed in the waning moments of the match.  A little more sophistication in his game probably finds him in a better position to attack the ball and put more threatening shots on goal.  Roger finally learned to drop deeper in the midfield to be the conduit from defense to offense.  Playing in that manner with Adu also on the field should lead to a more consistent and potent offense (all in due time.  I hope this happens Thursday night, but I’m not counting on it).

The best thing to come out of Sunday’s 2-1 defeat is that we have learned Michael Farfan and Seba can step up to the big moment and perform in the playoffs.  Their play combining for the response in the 7th minute shows that Seba is not a fluke, and Marfan has cemented himself in the starting XI for the foreseeable future.  Speaking of Farfans and positives, Union are very lucky that Gabe was not issued a red card for his wreckless challenge on Danny Cruz.  I think the yellow card was the correct decision, especially given that it’s a playoff game and the teams get more levity to play and compete hard.  I have no refereeing experience, but if Garfan had been issued a straight red card, I would not have argued it.  I would have been really upset at Garfan for the challenge, instead.  It was an aerial cross to a stationary winger.  Cruz was not making a run behind Garfan, therefore there was no urgent need to win THAT particular pass.  If anything, by playing proper body position, Garfan could have easily dispossessed Cruz after Cruz’ first touch on that pass.  Worst-case, Houston has the ball on the wing at the foot of someone not named Brad Davis, therefore, it’s not Houston’s most-threatening position.  All of that being said, Garfan also did well to compete hard and not pick up a second yellow, so Union’s comeback attempts did not have to come a man down.  And he is eligible for Thursday’s match.  Which is a positive because….

….it’s one less possibility that Stefani Miglioranzi starts… you knew I was coming back to that, didn’t you.

Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union

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