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.