Philadelphia Union wrapped up their season Sunday by losing 3-1 to the Columbus Crew.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Emilio Renteria and Andres Mendoza scored for Colombus, while Sebastien Le Toux picked up the Union goal in the 87th minute against a 10-man Crew team that had just minutes before lost goalkeeper Will Hesmer to what proved to be a season-ending injury.
The Crew dominated the game from the outset, keeping the Union consistently on their heels, but it was a questionable penalty call that led to the first goal. Eduardo Coudet made a slide tackle on Columbus winger Eddie Gaven at the right edge of the box. Not only did Coudet appear to make contact with the ball first, but Gaven was a step outside the box when he was hit. At worst, it should have been a free kick. Instead, it was a penalty, and Schelotto converted from the spot past goalkeeper Chris Seitz, who got a rude welcome back to the starting lineup.
Thirty minutes later, Gaven split Union center backs Danny Califf and Michael Orozco Fiscal with a perfect through ball that sent Renteria toward goal one-on-one with Seitz, and his shot made it 2-0 in the 42nd minute. Columbus then scored again in the 79th minute when Stefani Miglioranzi gave up the ball to Schelotto at midfield, only to see him go the length of the field. His deflected flick shot bounced to Mendoza on the left, who beat Seitz near side for the third goal.
The Union’s best chances to score when it still mattered came in the 59th minute when a great series of short passes in the attacking third culminated with a Shea Salinas pass that Justin Mapp put on goal, only for Hesmer to make a great save. Salinas also beat two defenders off the dribble and blasted a shot in the 81st minute that Hesmer blocked wide.
Le Toux’s goal in the 87th minute came after Hesmer left with an injury in the 85th minute after a collision with Califf on a corner kick. Columbus was out of subs, so Gaven — as if he hadn’t already done enough — put on the gloves and the jersey of backup goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and did his best goalie imitation as his team played a man down the rest of the way. Gaven had a big smile as he took over in goal, and then two minutes later Le Toux sent a laser right by his head for a Union goal. The smile promptly disappeared. Then Gaven stopped a Salinas drive shot right at him, and that was all the excitement for one game. Game over, end of season for the Union.
So, a few takeaways from the game, aside from the fact that Renteria’s shoe-telephone celebration was pretty stupid:
- This is the mandatory “Shea Salinas is awesome; why doesn’t he play more?” part.
You may have noticed a few mentions of Salinas above. Why? Because he’s awesome. Yes, that’s it, put simply.
OK, more specifically why he’s awesome? Because he makes stuff happen and did it Sunday after coming on as a sub at halftime. Let’s see. Beat people off the dribble? Check. He toasted a few. Put two cannon shots on goal? Check. Set up a near-goal with a sweet pass that Mapp could’ve (should’ve?) put away for a goal? Check. Maybe you’ve seen our “Rave” on Salinas. If he’s left unprotected in the expansion draft, a whole bunch of people may seek season ticket refunds.
(Note that Roger Torres and Andrew Jacobson were the two other substitutes Sunday, and they join Salinas at the top of the “Guys we want to see more of in 2011 for the Union” list. In fact, the list doesn’t really have anyone else on it, save maybe Kyle Nakazawa, but he’s not yet where the other three are.)
- Chris Seitz can’t catch a break.
All it took was 15 minutes. That’s how quickly Seitz’s bad luck struck, as a questionable penalty put the ball in front of him with one of the league’s best spot kickers to face. It figures. Seitz made some great saves during the game, and it’s tough to ask any goalkeeper to stop an attacker one on one. Could he have made a play on the third goal? Yeah, probably. He gave away the near post. Seitz got one last chance to get a clean sheet, but it was over in 15 minutes. It may have also been his last chance to show he belongs in with the Union. He may go unprotected in the expansion draft, and if there aren’t any good keepers to take, you could do worse than risk a pick on a 24-year-old former youth international and Olympian.
- The Union finish the season 8-15-7 and in 7th place.
Had they won or tied, they’d have finished sixth. Oh well. Not like it matters, 6th or 7th. A stronger finish in the last game would have been nice, but overall, this team played well over the season’s last two months. It’s almost as if they decided the season ended after last weekend’s big win over the Red Bulls. The last two months show some good things for the future, but we still have no idea who will be back from this team and who won’t. Fred could go to Australia on loan — or permanently, I suspect, if he plays well on loan there. He was player of the year his one season in the A-League, and he hasn’t replicated that over the past two seasons. Others will leave the Union too, some through the expansion draft and others just moving on. It’s been a fun team to watch, and something tells me all their players will be remembered fondly for this season no matter what.
So yeah, there aren’t going to be any player ratings on this post. The guys from PSP all got together at The 700 to watch the game, so I’m not sure any of us watched the game as closely as I normally do. My ratings would surely suck — more than usual. So rather than get rightly blasted for a bunch of misguided ratings, I’ll leave this space to our readers who can hand out whatever ratings they like.
We’ll have plenty of time over the next few weeks to make up for it. PSP isn’t going away just because the season ended.
(Photo: Philadelphia Union)