Archive for the ‘Team / Player Critique’ Category


June 14, 2012 2 comments

Well, we might as well talk about it…

Turn and face the strain

A quick look back on Nowak before our preview of the DC match-

May 2009 – Named the head coach of the incoming Philadelphia Union.
Brought DOOP into our every day vocabulary.
Petitioned Danny Mwanga to stay in the United States, and subsequently was the Unions first (and first of 2010) draft pick ever.  Never heard from the kid since.
Introduced us to the fan favorites of Old Serbian and Big Quick Mondragon.
Lost track of loan information (MOF)
Was unaware of visa information (Daniel)
Smited Superman (David Myrie)
Turned a rag tag bunch of motley into a 2nd year playoff competitor.
Collected more (allocation) money than the monopoly guy. 

Rumor (rather word is, cause it’s obvious in legal contractual dissolvements) is that Nowak got paid plenty to leave.  Not sure if his application to another job is grounds for dismissal, but as some joked along with the rumor that he had applied to Hearts in the Scottish Premier league – he would take the allocation money with him.  Well, it seems if he did get a payout, that’s likely true. 

So, what now? 

After finally getting rid of the coach who took bath salts towards the end of the 2011 season and ultimately cannibalized his own players, where do we go from here with the leftovers. We already have the talent – Valdes, Gomez, Williams, Carroll, Daniel, Torres (whenever he comes back…), Marfan, Garfan, Martinez.  I will lump Adu into this category if he has another stellar play, and Pajoy once he gets two more goals – I do like Pajoy, it just seems that (like Ruiz) the game strategy for the team doesn’t fit into any play with him (which is a coaching fault… cough).  We have a team with talent and stars, but what will happen. 

Where will Hackworth lead this team?  Is he better at developing talent where it seems that Nowak has only stifled it due to some egotistical maneuver that is contrary to any child development guide (See: Mwanga, Adu – twice!, and McInerney)?  Is he going to field a team that will benefit the team – play to their strengths as opposed to plugging in holes like you’re playing FIFA 12 and chosen a random team (I’m getting the hang of it)?  Not only that – the bottom line question of course is – will he give us results – will he give us wins. 

Now none of this “He’s a Nowak lacky”.  If you were put in charge while your boss was away for only one week, you’d do what your boss wanted you to do.  Why?  Well, it’s not your team, you’re his assistant, and you want to keep your job.  Hackworth’s been assistanting and coaching since 93 and started with colleges.  He’s been the 2nd in line, as well as the man in charge throughout his career – especially for our U-17’s. For now, time will tell.  This is a new leaf.  This is a new day.  We got what we were asking for because, well, we didn’t like what we saw anymore.  Too much inconsistency (even with success) and then a complete nuclear melt down will result in a quick turnaround.  This is our first growing pain.  This is our first MAJOR (non-player) change.  Will the team go through another overhaul? Will we bring in a (semi) big name?  How much allocation money is left?  

The better question… 

Will we score goals?


Some Players that we used to know

May 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Parody. It’s stuck in my head. And I felt like changing some words.  And yes, this is multiple weeks delayed, as well with the anti-nowak sentiment… but it was an idea i had.  Sue me (please don’t)

Parody of Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know

Now and then I think of when they were with us
Like when we all said “Union til I die”
Told ourselves to trust in you
The only hope you gave was doop.
But that was before and it’s an ache that we still go through

You can get addicted to a certain kind of losing
We stay there til the end,
Always the end
So when we realized you do not make sense
All we could do was bang our heads
We all think it will be better when its over

You didn’t have to sell them off
Destroy the team and act like nothing had ever happened
we don’t even need you though
and you treat us like morons and it feels so rough
you didn’t have to stoop so low
have your trainers tell them on their way to practice
guess they didn’t need to know.
selling off some players that we used to know

Now and then I think of all the times you talk of money
Making us believe that we will get something out of it
What happened to the game we play
Sick of hearing every word you say
You say that things are coming slow
And you wouldn’t want us hung up on some captain that we used to know

All we are is dust in the wind

May 7, 2012 4 comments

At this point, we’re Chivas East.  Okay okay, I’m emotionalizing the season so far too quickly – and we’re not TFC, but that’s the only team we’re currently better than.  The panic button is being pushed, now if Nowak would only stop sitting on it, this team could possibly do something.

So, what have we seen (and haven’t seen) this season:

5 Goals
– yes, i looked it up, I don’t even believe it myself. 3 by Gomez (1 pk), 1 by Adu, and 1 by Pajoy… yes, we all forgot about that one.  5 goals in 8 games, this sounds like last year!  Shocking isn’t it.  Only problem is … well 1) We’re not the same team as last year. 2) we’re on the losing side of the “let’s hope to eek this one out” mentality.

9 goals against us – only 3 of our 5 losses were results of multi-goal losses. Portland (away), Colorado (home), San Jose (home).  Aside from the San Jose ‘can’t play a repeated play worth a shit’ defensive lapse, Portland and Colorado when you think about it – we would be expected to be scored on multiple times.  It’s just the team and the arena that come into play where the league aware fan expects certain scores, just because they know what the other team is capable of… and the hope (at this point only hope) that our own team can combat against it.

And as an aside, fuck Lenhart, seriously.

18 Shots on Goal – we are currently averaging 2.25 shots per game… ON goal.. that’s not even counting total shots.  Fairly pathetic.  69 (woot) shots total by the statistic count.  That’s 1 out of every 4 shots is hitting the keeper (or just about).  It’s not too shabby, but you would expect a better result out of it.  Downside, we’re getting shot on close to double the amount of times we shoot.

Youth and future of the team – what of it?  Me and JH were discussing, and due to possibly coming off as racist I refused to post the “joke” picture (of yet he said I have the ultimate trump card, but we’re not gonna get into that) – but what did Mwanga do?  I mean, really.  Did he commit warcrimes?  Acts of atrition against Nowak?  There has got to be some reason  – and match fitness really can’t be an excuse – as to why Mwanga is barely getting ANY time on the field.  Yes, I do believe the kid is over-rated, but apparently Nowak is over-rating Pajoy.  Something has to change, and Mwanga is long over due for his shot at it – as well as Martinez.  Seriously.

Possession – lack of it.  San Jose gave me flashbacks of points in my life where the older kids would take my toys and just taunt me with them, never letting me get anywhere near them.  And I would then walk away defeated – much like what happened to the Union.  To see another team control the ball so much (multiple other teams mind you) to the point where watching is no fun anymore, really let’s the ‘eff’ bombs flow.  Cause at that point, we don’t know who to blame – players, the coach’s strategy, the other team actually being better than us?  It’s a conundrum for a fan, and it’s upsetting with the high potential and a possible fluke of a sophomore year.

Discipline – 1 game, 2 straight red cards, a coach suspension, and a sick feeling in your gut.  The red cards went to Keon Daniel – who has proven that not only has he overcome Dengue Fever, but he is one of our best players on the field, and an overzealous Garfan – who on a team that doesn’t do much, anything is noteworthy.  Garfan being suspended an extra 3 games is only arguable due to the fact that it is the same time of suspension for a brute like Rafa Marquez, otherwise, Gaddis is in the wings and not only shows promise, but that he can handle himself (as long as it’s not late in the game).

Nowak’s suspension came from trying to protect Garfan from an onslaught of non-penalized Chivas players literally attacking Garfan after his red carded challenge.  This is a plus – why?  It showed Nowak actually gives a shit about something.  What, we still don’t know.

Hackworth aptly named – As much as you tell the press you want an attacking team, and you want the team to shoot more, you’re still just a lacky for the strategies that Nowak wants to implement… and you confuse our players.  Sadly though, setting up what looks like an attack minded line up does not actually relate to the results on the field – note shots, as well as goals.  In the 2 games you were in charge of, San Jose and Seattle, there was only one goal (a retaliation goal no less) and a lack of possession and..well… shots.  Granted – the Union did make an effort against SJE… with 10 shots (attempts) total, versus the 6 that was at Seattle – the week after you say “you want them to shoot”.  Well done, well done indeed.

ADU-it – haters gonna hate.  Just like Ruiz, attempting to drive someone out with potential when they don’t see results (of which is the team’s fault).  Let’s face it, next to Keon, Adu is the next best player not counting defensive (he would be after Torres, but Torres is out for a bit).   You may think he’s over paid, or dribbles to much one-v-one, but you can’t deny he’s trying.

Pa-no-joy – I don’t know about you, but I’m glad we replaced a successful poacher like Ruiz with an unsuccessful poacher like Pajoy…

Potential – Remember, ever since this team started, it’s been a team full of potential.  And at the moment, that’s all we are.  A big stinking pile of potential where you have to stop and ask “What is it that will turn this ship around”.

Is it too early to ask for Nowak’s head?

March 22, 2012 7 comments


Clearly arguments can be made for both cases.  2 games in the season do not dictate the rest of the 32 left to play.  This is the third year Nowak’s been in charge and the team has regressed.  We have a lot of new players that Nowak believes will fit his style.  The entire team chemistry is disrupted with the turnover of our playmakers.  Our team needs time to start to gel together.  Why send our team internationally for preseason games instead of playing games against our own competition?

This list for each can go on, and on, and on.

It’s easy as a Philadelphian to quickly jump down a coach’s throat – hell, we’ve been doing that to Andy Reid for 5 years, justifiably so (only the foolish think he can field “America’s team” ).  But why, with seemingly all the wrong choices and the “clause of silence” all throughout Union management, should we hold back from attacking Nowak?

Well for starters he’ll make you run laps.

Being that this is practically a brand new team – 15 players remain from being on the 2011 roster at any point in the season, 9 (give or take) being primarily subs, with 1 now a regular starter – it does take time to gel.  The question now, as we know with Nowak, is with the acquisitions made in the offseason, do these players not only gel with Nowak’s bipolar strategy (‘solid’ defense with defensive offensive pressure) but do they have the capability to perform as such.

With Carroll, Califf (if not taking a shot, apparently), and Valdes being the central defense it seems, you will often find Gomez and Williams pressing the ball into the offensive half (and the occasional Valdes, and Gomez drops back).  This tallies for 5 players that are guaranteed to be conistent starters – barring national duty.  Add in Pajoy as a viable outlet for crosses, set pieces, and our only offense it seems, this makes up 6 of our 10 players.

So… what gives?

Lopez has yet to impress, and has made costly foolish mistakes that have lead to goals.  Mental lapses if you will (at least the one I saw against colorado, going for the ball instead of making sure the man behind him was marked).  Being that this is his 8th year playing soccer, one can’t really explain why he would have these costly mental lapses – one would assume maybe it’s just the newness of everything getting to him, but a professional shouldn’t be making these mistakes.

This shows what we expect – or at least explains – 7 of our 10 field players who are going to be our regular starters (sans call ups).  It almost seems like Nowak has most of the tools he needs (read wants) to implement his bipolar system.  But sadly, we are still missing 3 players.

Who do we have for these three players?  Well, a russian roulette of youth, talent, and immaturity.  You can almost label any of these descriptions on our cast of characters – considering that Marfan is probably the odds on favorite for regular starter, who knows how many times even he will play.  Adu, Mwanga, and Torres don’t even have guarantees in being a starter in any of these positions.  And sadly, this is where our push forward in play will likely, and constantly, stall.  Why?  Inexperience with eachother.  They are the connection from the backline to Pajoy, and even have direct paths toward net themselves – but because nothing is consistent with this area, it will always end up changing.

Looking at things in a breakdown, you almost wonder how we were only able to tally 1 goal a game so far.  Albeit there have only been 2 games, but we should have a more solid team than even last year.  So it goes to wonder – is Nowak almost completed with his experiment with our team and it will just take time?  Or, is this just the beginning of the end for him?

Can’t tell a player without a score card

March 5, 2012 1 comment

For those not paying attention this offseason, there have been a lot of changes to this years roster.  And if you live under a rock, WAKE UP, our first game is next monday – 7 days (queue footage of The Ring).  So to get all of you prepared, here are all of the changes from you 2011 Philadelpha Union, to the 2012 Philadelphia Union – and subsequent reasons why – at least until The Brotherly Game finds another rumor and it takes a week for the Union to finalize and make note of the new contract.  This is the team (we think) we will see this year.

Note: some comments are meant to be a farce…

2011 Roster Changes – why
Roger Torres Bought contract
Faryd Mondragon Courtesy trade for retirement
Joe Tait Decline Contract option
Juan Diego Gonzalez Decline Contract option
Levi Houapeu Decline Contract option
Morgan Langley Decline Contract option
Ryan Richter Decline Contract option
Stefani Miglioranzi Decline Contract option
Justin Mapp Expansion draft – Montreal
Carlos Ruiz Mid season trade – unruly fans
Jordan Harvey Mid season trade to Vancouver – allocation money
Chris Agorsor Mid Season waiver
Chase Harrison Official Contract
Kyle Nakazawa Offseason trade to LA – allocation money and draft spot
Sebastien Le Toux
Offseason trade to Vancouver – allocation money – cocaine
Veljko Paunovic Retire
Keon Daniel Smuggled
Thorne Holder Waived
2012 Additions How
Christian Hernandez Academy Signing
Gabriel Gomez Gutierrez
Josué Martinez Gutierrez
Lionard Pajoy Gutierrez
Porfirio Lopez Gutierrez
Jimmy McLaughlin Home Grown Player
Chris Albright Off Season Signing
Chris Konopka Off Season Signing
Chandler Hoffman SuperDraft
Greg Jordan SuperDraft
Raymon Gaddis SuperDraft
Antoine Hoppenot Supplemental Draft
Krystian Witkowski  Supplemental Draft
Brandon Zimmerman Catch and release
Tom Brandt Catch and release
2012 Official Roster
Amobi Okugo
Brian Carroll
Carlos Valdes
Chase Harrison
Danny Califf
Danny Mwanga
Freddy Adu
Gabriel Farfan
Jack McInerney
Keon Daniel
Michael Farfan
Roger Torres
Sheanon Williams
Zac MacMath
Zach Pfeffer
Antoine Hoppenot
Chandler Hoffman
Chris Albright
Chris Konopka
Christian Hernandez
Gabriel Gomez
Greg Jordan
Jimmy McLaughlin
Josué Martinez
Krystian Witkowski
Lionard Pajoy
Porfirio Lopez
Raymon Gaddis

Reaction, and Subsequent Rant of the Le Toux Trade (Le Toux Gate)

February 1, 2012 1 comment

I first want to start off with a little personal note.  I am a casual soccer fan by trade.  I know the very big names in EPL, and maybe some in La Liga, and that’s about it.  When I found soccer on TV I could easily watch it, and not have to root for anyone.  I enjoyed watching it.  This started in 2006 when watching the world cup.  Needless to say, being that this is America, I never really watched that much soccer on TV in between then and 2010.  When I heard that Philadelphia was getting a team, I was excited.  For starters, this was a sport I enjoyed and wanted to play (goalkeeper) when I was young, and the idea of a brand new team when I’m fully able to watch from the beginning excited me.

I was not an original season ticket holder.  Didn’t have the money, and generally never had that ‘drive’ to invest in something as such.  Naturally, the 2010 season changed that mind.  Maybe it helped with the World Cup being on and watching every single game, while at work, and at a bar on weekends, helped carry it over.  Meeting some Sons of Ben at the bars (specifically Tommy Roletter, fellow la salle alumn during a viewing of USA vs Australia pre world cup) helped peek my interest.  The team itself showed promise in its first year – aside from a multitude of mistakes and divots, and it was invigorating.  I saw 3 games that year, once from 101, another from 121, and another in the river end.  All were exciting and convinced me, mostly due to the atmosphere created by THE FANS, to purchase season tickets for 2011.  It even got me started in writing a blog which I (or my coworker Nick, I forget which one of us started the idea) took to a coworker who also enjoyed watching the Union (and all Philly sports) and started towards the end of the 2010 season.  I had also went out on a limb by myself, fronting for 3 tickets, only one claimed for – mine.  Everyone I had brought enjoyed themselves and wanted to come again.   And 2011 was a great year, and during this off season – even with a plethora of rumors – next season showed more potential than Adu at 15 years old.

Now though?  There’s a dark cloud hanging over the Union, and we all know why.

There’s no need to get into the whole Le Toux thing… by now, if you follow anything Union oriented on Twitter you know that he was trialing at Bolton – we didn’t know why.  Many of us assumed he got a call and wanted to play in the EPL.  More power to him.  Then, suddenly, we get rumors on Monday (yesterday, or as I’m writing after midnight 2 days ago) that he is going to Vancouver.  Bolton fans, Bolton management, and someone in Vancouver stating this.  Needless to say Monday night we were confused.  Then, confusion became a sudden convulsion as to why when Le Toux himself confirmed it in a tweet, before either team or MLS of the transfer.  This confusion turned into outrage to the point where we were all just repeating ourselves.  It didn’t make sense.  How could it.  For what could we possibly be getting for not only our franchise, not only our sponsor (and league wide face for said sponsor), but our star player?  Money and an international spot?  Draft picks?  Money and draft picks?  Someone else?

Only money.  Undisclosed, as the norm for MLS (needless to say Union as well).

Okay, we’ll give Nowak the benefit of the doubt.  He’s proven us wrong on many occasions (except for Migz)… maybe we will put this to good use.

They changed their player profile for their facebook page before any announcement.  Okay… well…  After the announcement, another announcement saying we purchased Torres’ contract and he’s no longer on loan.  That’s a plus, but we should have gotten much more for Le Toux than that, one would think (or hope).

And then this was reported during or after (I’m actually not sure) his farewell party at Kildare’s in West Chester.  Chris Vito reports the interview with Le Toux for The DelCo Times Herald, which can be found here <<< hyperlink.  Here are some snippets of Le Toux’s quotes (who is the most humble philadelphian player and probably wouldn’t say this if still contracted) if you haven’t seen it, cried, and ripped your Union posters in rage.  Queue the worst PR move in Union history.  Like, this really ranks up there with New England Revolution and DTF (defend the fort for those who don’t know).

  • “I wanted to stay in Philly. I didn’t care about the money.”
  • The only thing they wanted is the money,” Le Toux said. “Being with this team and being a guy, not to build around, but to help this team, was what I wanted. … They must have wanted to sell me for money because they needed money. We don’t have a nice practice facility and that is something they promised since I am here. It’s terrible.
  • “That’s why they pushed me to Bolton — money.”
  • “I told them I would consider (Bolton), but I knew it wasn’t good for me,” Le Toux said. “I was out of shape. I hadn’t kicked a ball in five weeks. I didn’t want to go over there and injure myself in cold weather. What good is that for me or (the Union)?”
  • “I asked Peter (Monday at YSC) what was going on and he didn’t let me talk,” Le Toux said. “He started to get mad at me, telling me that I was very not respectful to leave Bolton early. I told him, ‘First, I respect myself.’ But I always did everything they asked me to do.

And the kicker quote of the night – “I would be happy to just retire than play for Peter again,”

I take it from twitter and some comments that some more information was divulged at Kildare’s that makes the situation even less satisfying.  Yes, this is apparently possible.

All things considered – yes, this is a business.  It is a team.  It is a fledgling league still, and a fledgling team.  Most businesses never make profit in their first 3 to 5 years.  It happens.  Normally, within an organization you should be up front about things – especially to the employee you are going to use as a bartering chip.  But again, many things just don’t add up.

Why be pissed off at someone, who is loyal to your cause and the team and the franchise, when all he wants is to stay there?
Why not tell him straightforward that you have no use for him other than trying to make a trade for money?
Why try to sell him when you are wasting 500k salary on someone you don’t use.  And even less than that on a first round draft pick in 2010 that…again.. YOU DON”T FUCKING USE?
Why treat someone who is a fan favorite with as much respect as we treat any “Philly Villain” when they enter our domain?

Do you have no tact?  No scruples?  Do you not realize this is going to bite you in the fucking ass!?

I get on many fans cases when they bring up the point that this team is only here because of  the fans primarily because we only showed there was a market.  Once the team came, we generally have no more say in the goings on of the team such as personnel.  BUT, the one thing that is never really a point to mention that I damn well agree with, is when there is no faith in the management of said team.  And frankly, this situation has finally come.

So I ask, Peter Nowak – does your ego know no bounds?  Are you so strapped for cash that you, in your “soccer experience” can’t see what is plainly obvious to the common fan?  How do you get off treating someone who gave it all for you like he expects it all without doing anything?

I ask of you Nowak, Hackworth, Sakiewicz – is there not a brain among you?  Do you not know what we as a fan base from Philadelphia could do to you?

I’m certain you’ll come on board with some overblown, piece of shit response to fan outrage saying “It is not like that” and “Media is blowing it out of proportion. Doesn’t know what they are saying.” and all the like, creating more of a PR shit storm separating yourselves from us.  Do you really think that behind your iron curtain of no information and fluff pieces and fake smiles you can really prevent the truth from us?

If your money problems are really that true (considering you’re also getting 3 million a year from Bimbo ($12/4 years, please correct if wrong)) then I hope to god you have a good season, because otherwise, we will hurt you where it’s obvious where you care about.




– Thank you Chris Vito for giving me permission to take quotes from his article…  sorry I took more than I thought I would take.

Leading Into the “Week to Define a Season”

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Saturday, September 3rd, Wednesday, September 7th, and Saturday, September 10th.  Those three dates collectively represent a pivotal point in this, the second year of Union’s existence.  Be it the unscheduled bye-week, or the ton of rain we got due to Pain-in-the-Ass-Storm Irene, but the slate feels wiped clean.  But only temporarily.

This Saturday, Union travel to Rio Tinto Stadium to take on Real Salt Lake.  This is the match that was rescheduled because RSL was trying to secure domination over the region, and they lost in the final of the CONCACAF Champions League tournament.  They’ve cleaned their faces of tears since then and are back to their normal top-of-MLS form, so this match is very important.  This is the statement where I become a broken record:  A draw in this match, normally, would be acceptable, but Union’s amassing of draws makes this a must-win.  Now that I got that out of the way, let’s boil this one down.  RSL are missing a handful of players to international duty and injury.  Union are missing the suddenly error-prone Carlos Valdes to mandatory 1-game red card suspension.  RSL still has that nasty-haired Kyle Beckerman because Jurgen Klinsmann doesn’t plan to use him on 9/2 friendly against Costa Rica.  More detail tomorrow in a match preview, this REALLY is a must-win.

The trap game is the also-rescheduled match versus New England Revolution.  A number of fans will be annoyed that this match was rescheduled from a weekend to mid-week.  I’ll be annoyed if Union win by fewer than 2 goals.  The biggest impediment to Union in this fixture is complacency.  They are not in a position to take a sorry-ass team like the Revs for granted.  There will likely be some different faces in the lineup because some of the guys will need to be rested after the RSL match.  The key will be those players playing like they want to earn a more playing time.

The last of this trifecta is a home date with the Portland Timbers.  The hope here is that Union have built some momentum from solid, inspired play from the rest of the week, and they overwhelm Portland with high-quality play.  Worst-case scenario:  We’re looking at this match as one we hope to salvage at least a point from so that the week isn’t a complete disaster.

The team will be missing Keon Daniel to international duty, which sucks for us because that means more Justin Mapp (boooooo).  It may, also, mean more time for Michael Farfan (yaaaaaaaay).  This is also the time that Freddy Adu needs to accelerate his learning curve and orchestrate Union’s offense the way we all optimistically think he can.  The offense has been stagnant for a large majority of the season and Freddy certainly has some playmaking ability.  He needs to prove his worth to the team in the run of play, and make sure that Sebastien Le Toux doesn’t take any more corner kicks.  It’s also time for Danny Mwanga to score some goals.  Especially, if I’m claiming that this week defines the entire season.  It would be nice if Carlos Ruiz doesn’t end the season as the team’s leading scorer.

Nick Y., the other .5 of Unholy Union

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