Photo: Nicolae Stoian
Kickoff for Sunday’s game is now set for 5pm.
ESPN2 is broadcasting New York Red Bulls v LA Galaxy at 3pm, which pushes the kickoff of Sunday’s Union v Houston game, which is also on ESPN2, up to 5pm. Why the start times aren’t the other way around, given the fact that the Eagles are playing the Cowboys at the Linc at 8pm, the Giants are playing Miami at 1pm and the Jets have a bye, is beyond me.
Veljko Paunovic is questionable for Sunday’s game. “As of now, Veljko is training with us but not in full capacity,” say Peter Nowak. “With those kinds of injuries, you never know how it plays out. I don’t think it’s major enough to say he’s out the whole series.”
The Union is a young team, but five veterans—Danny Califf, Brian Carroll, Justin Mapp, Freddy Adu, Stefani Miglioranzi and Sebastien Le Toux—have a combined 27 playoff appearances, including seven title game appearances, and five championships between them. Califf says, “We haven’t held team meetings or anything but certainly in our own little way we’re tying to convey the kind of attitude you need to take into the playoffs. There’s more emotion, more urgency, and everyone is juiced. I think we’re going to be ready.”
So, what do you tell the young players? Nowak says:
“You tell them nothing. You don’t talk to them at all. The more you talk to them, it can actually have a negative effect. The most important thing to stress [among the players] is to match the intensity of the game, of your opponent of the moment. You do that and you’ll do all the little things right to win.”
Califf explains what Union fans can expect on the field:
“There were times in the year where we tried to open up and play a bit more offensive, but where we’ve gotten most of our results is by grinding out games. Pretty soccer doesn’t come out during the playoffs, it’s the team that wants it the most. I know that and the guys who have been here before know that. It’s something we talked about as a group, but the young guys will not fully understand until you get into the game and have some of these games under their belt.”
“I expect it to be more grabbing and scratching and the referee is going to let things go that they would call during the season. We have to be ready for it. Houston is a big and physical team. It’s about who is smarter, who is more organized, who is more disciplined and who recognizes when the plays can go against up and clean it up.”
“Everything we did in the past 34 weeks won’t matter. What matters now is to focus. You can’t go and run all over the place and be like mad men. There are three factors you have to do: be simple, be efficient and be effective.”
Chris Vito pens a long and thought-provoking piece on Nowak. Nowak says in the piece of his role with the players, “I’m trying to help them realize the talent they have. But there’s the part of me saying, ‘Can you do better?’ They’re still not where I want them to be. Not until we win MLS Cup.”
Freddy Adu hasn’t exactly been made an explosive impact since joining the Union. John Hackworth says, “Freddy is a difference maker, and he has to be able to do that for us in order for us to be successful in the playoffs.”
The Goalkeeper digs up the roots of the Union’s playoff run by going back to DC United’s championship under Peter Nowak in 2004.
The Union are No. 7 in ESPN’s Top Ten list of things to know about the MLS Playoffs. “Honor is due to Peter Nowak’s side…Yet Nowak is not a manager who will take the happy-to-be-here approach.”
Unholy Union wonders where the Union’s goals will come from.
Toll collectors on the Commodore Barry Bridge will be wearing Union scarves and t-shirts this weekend while the bridge will feature banners in support of the team.
The Marfan’s are the guests on the latest edition of the Union Sound podcast.
isportsweb.com predicts Houston will win the series agaisnt the Union 3–2 on aggregate.
Union executive vice president Dave Rowan explains what to expect from the new radio deal with SportsRadio 610 WIP.
The Houston Chronicle writes, “As the Philadelphia Union prepare for the Eastern Conference semifinals, it’s not going make much sense to look at the tape of their two regular-season meetings against the Dynamo. On a six-game unbeaten streak, the Dynamo are playing their best soccer of the year.”
Houston coach Dominick Kinnear says, “This is the second season. We get a new chance, and I am sure both teams are focused on winning, whether or not they were winning or losing before the playoffs started. I think the guys have handled the pressure well, and I am not saying it doesn’t matter how well you play, because it does, but we’ve been under pressure, and I think the last five to six games leading up to this, we’ve handled the test pretty well.”
Nowak says, “Houston is a very big and physical team, and tactically they are very good. There have been personnel changes for the team, [but] as far as their game plan, it’s the same, and it’s a good one. We need to come out and be physical and play a smart game.”
Marc Narducci talks to Brad Davis.
WPS president Jennifer O’Sullivan visited United Sports, the club’s training facility in Downingtown, on Wednesday.
Amy Rodriguez talks to beatsandrhymesfc.com, a website dedicated to “Talking music with current and ex-pro footballers.”
New York defeated Dallas 2–0 in Wednesday night’s Wild Card game and will now face LA Galaxy in the Western Conference Semifinal. (I know, the Energy Drinks play in the Eastern Conference—talk to the league.)
Colorado will host Columbus in the second wild card game tonight at 10pm.
DC United president Kevin Payne describes the club’s on-going stadium problems and says the current situation is unsustainable.
Paul Kemsley has stepped down as Chairman/CEO of MLS hopefuls, the New York Cosmos.
Manchester United tickets allocated to Sir Alex Ferguson were recovered during a police operation into illegal match day activities around Old Trafford. Ferguson is not suspected of any wrong doing.
A referee at a game in the Czech Republic who repeatedly fell over during the course of a match in which he handed out three red cards, had a blood alcohol level of 1.94 when the police finally intervened. The situation plainly evident, the home team decided not to attack the short-handed visitors, a gesture that was applauded by the stands. “There’s no rule which bans a drunk referee from taking charge of a match. If we had refused to continue to play, we could have been sanctioned,” said a club official. The regional football authority eventually decided to annul the match, which ended 1–1, on the basis of fair play.
A dog caused a three minute delay in a Copa Sudamericana game between Independiente Santa Fe and Botafogo. Independiente were already up 4–0 when the dog invaded the pitch. The match ended 4–1.