Philadelphia Union lost 3-1 to Los Angelex Galaxy on Saturday night, but it could have been much, much worse.
Instead, it was only a little ugly. Three goals surrendered and a Stefani Miglioranzi red card by halftime. Then a good response from the Union in the second half, capped by Jack McInerney’s first professional goal. You could say the game wasn’t as lopsided as the scoreboard showed, but the score was about right.
For most of the match, the Galaxy controlled the game. Galaxy center back Omar Gonzalez just dominated the middle. Edson Buddle had great positioning, vision and finishing all night, and it led to two goals and an assist. And, as expected, Landon Donovan showed why he’s the best outfield player in the U.S. What can you say? This is what happens when an expansion team plays the league’s best team. They get outclassed.
Let’s break down a few things that stand out.
- Another red card.
It’s getting maddening at this point. Yes, we understand Stefani Miglioranzi’s frustration over the Union going down by three in the first half. Yes, he barely made contact on the tackle that drew the red. But WTF? A two-footed tackle into a mess that includes your own teammate? And doing it in injury time? Maybe it’s time for Nowak to end the macho talk, because three red cards in six games is pretty ridiculous.
- The Union need another forward.
There is no replacement for Sebastien Le Toux yet. Jack McInerney scored on a two-on-one and shows all sorts of potential, but he’s not there yet. He will be eventually if Nowak keeps giving him time, but most of the time, he looks like what he is: A boy playing with and getting knocked off the ball by bigger and stronger men.
- What’s the problem with the back line?
On most goals, there’s one key thing that leads to the goal. It’s either a good offensive play, a defensive misstep, or a fluke.
So dismantle the three goals. What happened on each?
On the first, Buddle made a great run off Juninho’s through ball and sent a great pass to A.J. DeLaGarza. Goalkeeper Chris Seitz could have aggressively come out to cut off Buddle’s pass, but he might not have stopped it anyway.
On the second, Danny Califf took an elbow from Gonzalez before the corner kick that took Califf out of the play. Then the scramble led to the goal. Califf’s the one guy the Union need in the air on corner kicks.
On the third, Donovan timed a great run on a nice through ball past Miglioranzi. Michael Orozco didn’t see Buddle on the counterattack, Cristian Arrieta didn’t hustle back to chase Buddle and Donovan made them pay for it.
Does this tell us what’s wrong with the back line? Well, it tells us the Galaxy were better passers than the Union were defenders, but that’s about it.
- Bright spots: Shea Salinas, Kyle Nakazawa and Jack McInerney.
Salinas looked dangerous on several occasions and is clearly the only true wing player the Union have. Nakazawa hit two really nice free kicks and had a smart yellow card that the ref wrongly didn’t let play on with the Galaxy’s advantage. And Jack Mac? Score. First goal. 17 years old.
Chris Seitz: 5
Some good saves in the match. Should have come out to cut off the pass from Buddle that led to A.J. DeLaGarza’s goal in the first minute, but it might not have made a difference. Overall, finally showing some signs of why Union management like him.
Jordan Harvey: 5
Harvey was fine. Just another game. Didn’t make mistakes on defense, but clearly isn’t the crossing threat that Christian Arrieta is on the other side.
Michael Orozco: 4
Had an up-close view of the last two goals. Can’t blame him for the second, but the third falls partially on him.
Danny Califf: 4
His lack of speed really showed at moments. It’s hard to blame him for that elbow he took from Gonzalez, but if you’re going to get taken out of the whole play with a hard shot, you might as well go down so that the ref notices.
Cristian Arrieta: 5
Mostly steady, but didn’t hustle back to cover Buddle on the third goal. Good crossing, good positioning on defense once he slid inside after Stefani Miglioranzi was sent off.
Andrew Jacobson: 6
Aggressive as a ball-winner, and moved the ball well for the Union all night. One dangerous shot from distance, one ill-advised one.
Stefani Miglioranzi: 3
Whatever else he did in the game doesn’t matter. One major mental mistake made a bad first half impossible to overcome for the Union.
Shea Salinas: 7
Salinas was the most exciting Union player on the field. Nowak put him in for Le Toux, clearly going with his best 11, regardless of position, and Salinas responded by hustling on both sides of the field and showing that we should see more of him.
Roger Torres: 5
Another match, another early substitution. Maybe he’ll play 90 minutes one day. Looked dangerous at times, but sometimes dribbled himself into trouble. Needs to STOP DIVING.
Assisted on the lone goal, had a few nice passes, and controlled the ball well.
Alejandro Moreno: 4
A non-factor both before and after Miglioranzi’s ejection. Played up top alone for much of the game out of necessity, and it’s clear that’s simply not going to work.
Kyle Nakazawa: 6
Two good free kicks, one of which nearly led to a goal. A nice showing in his MLS debut.
Amobi Okugo: 5
Tracked back well on defense. Still looks awkward out there, though not as much as his previous matches.
Jack McInerney: 6
Nice finish to record his first professional goal. Otherwise, Union Jack got physically manhandled. He’s too small and too young, but eventually, neither of those will outweigh his vast talent, as we saw on his nice finish.
(Photo: Philadelphia Union)