Saturday, October 8, 2011

Post Game: Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders

This will be a quick post. A better one will come tomorrow when I'm not so tired, but I had to write something about tonight.


Freddy Adu opened the scoring with an opportunistic goal. But Brian Carroll really cemented the win with a breakaway goal in the 70th minute. Le Toux fed Carroll a perfect pass on a breakaway as the Seattle defense collapsed on him, leaving Carroll wide open. And Carroll easily slotted the ball home past Keller.

It was a perfect microcosm of the Union season. Solid defense, and opportunistic offense scoring clutch goals when they had to.

With this victory, the Union all but secure a playoff berth, and put themselves in great position to host a playoff game, and if all goes well, win the Eastern Conference if they can win out.

All in all, a great night for the Union. Congrats on the goals, and their first win on the West Coast.

Philadelphia Union @ Seattle Sounders Preview

Tonight, the Philadelphia Union travel west to face a strong Seattle Sounders squad. The Union are still looking for their first victory on the West Coast, and are also looking to put themselves in a controlling position in the East for the final push to the playoffs.

They face a strong Seattle team, fresh off a 3rd straight victory in the USOC. but Seattle will be without leading scorer, Freddy Montero, due to yellow card accumulation. And the Union have Sebastian Le Toux coming into the prime of his season at the perfect time. Le Toux has scored 7 goals in 6 matches, and looks to lead a Union attack that has seen goals from Farfan and Mapp in recent matches.

But the Union face a Seattle team still alive in the hunt for the Supporters Shield, and are fighting hard to get it. They won't go down without a fight. Despite missing their leading scorer, Seattle still has a potent attack, a strong defense and a veteran goalie.

But the Union aren't coming into this match riding only Le Toux to victory. The Union backline has remains at the top of the East in all defensive categories, and MacMath has performed well since the injury to Mondragon.

So it will be a tough fight for the Union tonight, and any result will be welcome. Points are tough to come by at the end of the season, especially after a 3000 mile flight in the loudest stadium in the MLS. It will be a tough fight for the Union on the road.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Controlling Their Own Destiny

The Union are in control of their own destiny. With a game in hand over Sporting KC, and a matchup against the New York Red Bulls, a team hot on their heels, the Union's playoff future is up to them. But it's a tough road to the end of the season. Lets look at the final 3 games on the Union's schedule.

1. Philadelphia Union @ Seattle Sounders
The Union travel to the West Coast, a geographic area that has not been kind to the Union. In their short history, the Union are winless on the West Coast.  And Seattle is fighting hard for a still mathematically possible supporters shield. So they can't expect a walkover from the number 2 team in the Western Conference. THe biggest plus the Union have going for them in this game are the players sitting out for the Sounders.  Key red card suspensions and likely injury sittings will help the Union in the face of a strong Seattle attack. Also helpful will be the USOC final Seattle won this week. Playing a short week will likely have a comparable effect on Seattle's legs that the travel will have on the Union.

2. Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC
This game looks to be a sure lock for 3 points for the Union. Playing a basement dwelling Toronto FC squad that has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs should be just what the doctor ordered as a stirring home finale for the Union.  The crowd will certainly be behind the Union, and they have performed well at home this season.  Even though it is a mistake to pencil in 3 points against any team, I feel pretty safe chalking 3 up for the Union in this match.

3. Philadelphia Union @ New York Red Bulls
This match could be for all the marbles. In what is fast becoming a fan favorite rivalry, Philadelphia travels north just a few short hours to face a team breathing down their necks in the playoff race. 3 points for either squad will be vital in this match. With a lot at stake, I expect this to be a physical match, and both teams will leave everything on the field. My biggest worry for the Union, besides going pointless in New York, is an injury in the last match before the playoffs.

So the Union have a tough road ahead. But with a game in hand over the teams ahead them, the playoff future looks pretty bright for the Union.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Morning After

Overall, what can we take from the game against FC Dallas last night? A couple of very important things.

1. Freddy Adu's vision will produce goals.

You saw glimpses of it last night. Long balls that were just a little too far, or just a step away from being a shot on goal. This is what Adu brings to the table. His vision and passing are going to lead to goals for Le Toux and McInerney. Having a player on the side like Adu should also open up the middle of the field, since teams will be dropping defenders to his side of the field to cover him. And hopefully, the play of Adu and the rest of the Union attack will take some of the pressure off of the Union backline. Which brings us to the next point.

2. The Union Backline

Carlos Valdes made a boneheaded mistake last night that cost the Union dearly.  His mishandling of a ball led to Dallas' first goal of the game, and was easily preventable. After the game, Valdes tweeted, "I wanna say sorry to the union fans. Some times this things happen. Thanks for your support." Valdes can't make boneheaded mistakes like that again. The Union squeaked out a draw, but mistakes like that will eventually lead to losses, not to draws.

3. Is Le Toux's scoring drought finally over?

Le Toux had 14 goals last season. Going into last nights game, he had 1 goal. Granted, he is leading the team in assists, but Le Toux is used to scoring. And he finally did last night. Two penalty kicks, both when the Union were down a goal. Le Toux is a clutch player, and he showed it last night. And now the monkey should be off his back. The balls off the post or crossbar, those are in the past now. He had a multi goal game, and needs to carry that momentum into the next few matches. With Carlos Ruiz gone, and the addition of Adu, the Union attack is in flux. And they need Le Toux to step up and score goals to help ease the transition. Will he do it? Only time will tell.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas Final

So the game ended in a 2-2 final. But that isn't the whole story of the game.

It doesn't tell how FC Dallas dominated physical play.

It doesn't tell how huge a part Sebastian Le Toux played.

The Union managed to pull a result from their Saturday night match against FC Dallas. Despite being thoroughly outplayed by FC Dallas, and especially my man of the match, Kevin Hartman.

After a bad foul late in the match, which put FC Dalllas down a man, Kevin Hartman came through in the clutch. Save after save followed. Surpassed only by his ability to take time off the clock. Hartman didn't only stop Union shots, he prevented them. And he was by far the man of the match.

Overall, the Union need work. Adu needs a week of conditioning to get to know his teammates. The backline needs a week to fix their mistakes. And Nowak needs a week to decide how best to play his new players, and his current players, in an attack that will actually produce run of play goals.

The Union were lucky to escape with a result. 1st place Columbus will not be so kind.

First Half Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas

The first half showed sloppy play from both sides. A sloppy play by Carlos Valdes let in a goal. a take down in the box gave Le Toux his 5th Union penalty shot, and he has made all 5. A late goal by Brek Shea ends the half at 2-1.

Physically, I would say that FC Dallas has dominated the play. They seem to hold possession better than the Union are. They are running down balls faster, winning more 50/50 balls, and generally controlling play. And the Shea goal at the end of the half sapped whatever Union momentum was gained by the Le Toux penalty kick.

Overall, Union play has been less than stellar. Passing has been off the mark. Despite having 6 corners, the Union have only 1 goal, and that off a penalty kick. The Union seem to think offense will be generated from a long ball to a striker, but the past 45 minutes has proved this an ineffective attack against FC Dallas.

Overall, Dallas has dominated this game. The Union are lucky to be in it. Serious adjustments need to be made at half. Passing needs to be crisper, and a little less aggressive. Slowing the ball down, and trying to control play will generate better looks for the Union offense in the 2nd half.

That, and fewer bonehead mistakes from the backline.

Philadelphia Union vs. FC Dallas

You can talk about this game for 100 different reasons. Will Philadelphia break their winless streak, and get back to the top of the table? How can they handle a top tier team from a much better Western Conference? Will the attack finally gel for the Union? Every question has the same answer. This man:

Freddy Adu

The controversial player, who has underachieved, had a bad rap, and been all over the world to play. And now he is here in Philadelphia. And I think this is a good thing.

Adu is hungry. Hungry to be on a winner. Hungry to be the reason for a win. He will be a featured player for the Union, who up until now have lacked the big names some other clubs have. There has been no Henry or Beckham for the Philadelphia Union. But now they have their big name. They have a season to be proud of thus far. And they have a chance tonight to put their foot down and charge into the postseason on a tear.

So tonight is a big night. As I said before, there are many questions the Union need to answer. And most of the answers start with Adu.