Photo: Nicolae Stoian
PHILADELPHIA UNION – OUT: GK Thorne Holder (concussion); FW Levi Houapeu (L ankle strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Michael Farfan (R foot contusion); FW Veljko Paunovic (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Justin Mapp (L quad strain)
HOUSTON DYNAMO — OUT: FW Cam Weaver (R hip)
The Union are hopeful Paunovic will be ready to go on Thursday. John Hackworth said on Tuesday, “We hope we have him available because he is a big piece of our team.”
Houston watch, or let the smearing begin
Houston Chronicle writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz has a very thoughtful piece [that's sarcasm, folks] titled, “Dynamo must keep cool against dirty Union.” Some choice quotes:
- “the Union have put the dirt in dirty football during the Eastern Conference semifinals”
- “there’s a big difference between playing hard and playing dirty, and the Union played some dirty soccer.”
- “[Gabriel] Farfan, however, wasn’t even the dirtiest Union player. That honor belonged to Colombian defender Carlos Valdes, who kicked at Brian Ching at one point in the game and then went out of his way to kick Will Bruin in the back of the head.”
- “Philadelphia’s Sheanon Williams deserves consideration for the dirtiest player of the Eastern Conference semifinal first leg at PPL Park. He committed the reckless two-foot tackle on Adam Moffatt, who got up angrily and shoved Williams…I applaud Moffat’s spirit…”
Brian Ching is quoted in the piece as saying, “I think they have a few players that are a little dirty. They kind of get stuck in a little bit harder on tackles and leave their legs out there. Obviously the one with Will [Bruin] in the corner was inexcusable. But like I said, it’s the playoffs. We’re a team that can take it and we dish it out as well. It’s nothing out of the ordinary and nothing that we’re worried about.”
Apparently Union color commentator Taylor Twellman thought that Garfan’s tackle of Danny Cruz was, if not dirty, reckless. Working the broadcast of the match on ESPN2, Twellman said, “It should be an ejection. That’s coming in recklessly with the boot real high.”
We know what Jose de Jesus Ortiz and Taylor Twellman thought about the Garfan tackle, but what did Houston manager Dominick Kinnear think? “I don’t think it was a malicious tackle,” Kinnear said after the game. “Farfan was just following the ball and mistimed…It was not to send a message or anything. Just a mistimed tackle.” Peter Nowak’s take? “The guy is 5-foot-6 and he put his head in Gabriel’s knee.” That’s one way of looking at it, I suppose.
Kinnear also said of the contact between Valdes and Bruin, “He made contact with Will’s head, and that was it.”
For his part, Garfan made sure to talk to Cruz to find out if he was alright. “I made sure he was alright once right after the goal was scored,” Garfan said, “and after [the game] we talked about it and I made sure he was alright.”
Jose de Jesus Ortiz’s Twitter handle is
@OrtizKicks, just in case you’re interested in contacting him to let him know your thoughts on, I don’t know, the weather.
In another piece that makes him seem less of a total fecking retard, de Jesus Ortiz says the Dynamo’s defense has been the key in their seven game unbeaten streak (5–0–2), which began when Geoff Cameron was moved to the backline.
Wiping the shite off of his hands from his earlier comments, Ching says of the Union, “We have to take that second half [in Sunday's game at PPL Park] as a warning. They have talent and if we don’t take that into account, then we’re asking for trouble. We definitely have that on our minds and we’re looking to come out and attack a lot more than we did in the second half.”
You know what a captain does? He says things like Faryd Mondragon said on Tuesday:
“In 22 years as a professional, I think this is one of the two or three best locker rooms I’ve been in my whole career. If we play the way I know we can play, we can beat anyone. And I say this in a very humble way because I know there are a lot very good teams. But I live with this team every day—day by day, training by training, minute by minute—and I know what we are capable of.”
Kerith Gabriel notes that seven teams have advanced after losing the first leg of the MLS Playoffs. Only two have done so after losing the first leg at home. Marc Narducci takes a look at that history.
Thinking of Thursday’s game as the second half of a single game, Marc Narducci notes the Union have come back to win or tie seven times this season, three times on the road.
CSN Philly says the Union needs “need someone, perhaps Danny Mwanga, to step up and score.”
Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga were pleased to have started together last Sunday for the first time in nearly two months. How did Le Toux think they did? “It was a bit hard in the first half because we were far from each other, but in the second half we were a bit closer. I’m sure if we play closer together, we will reconnect like we did last year.” Will they start together on Thursday? Le Toux said, “That’s a coaching staff decision,” Le Toux said. “It depends how Danny is going to recover and how I recover, too. I think that will be a game time decision.”
As Justin Mapp explains, the need to score an series-equalizing goal is coupled with the need to prevent Houston from scoring a series-winning goal:
“We have to push the game because we’re down a goal at this point, but we can’t leave ourselves too exposed because if you give up a goal or two it’s going to be a tough mountain to climb at that point. So we’ll have to take our chances going forward but at the same time try to be strong in the back as well. It’ll be a challenge.”
Crikey, Sunday was Stefani Miglioranzi’s first appearance in a MLS playoff game.
Talking Tactics looks at “Why Nowak’s gamble came up empty” and suggests “truth be told, the tactics that backfired Sunday may work better in Texas.” Noooooooooooooooooooooooo!
MLS Talk suggests Nowak’s decision to use that 3-5-2/5-3-2 set up may have been influenced by Toronto’s successful implementation of that formation against the Union in the season finale draw a few weeks ago and concludes the formation was doomed to fail given lack of familiarity and current personnel.
Unholy Union says, “The best thing to come out of Sunday’s 2-1 defeat is that we have learned Michael Farfan and Seba can step up to the big moment and perform in the playoffs.”
Union Dues says of Thursday’s game, “The Union are going to win, because they’re going to play the whole match like it was the last ten minutes of Sunday’s game.”
Wondering how the Union’s post season compares to that of other expansion teams in MLS history? Read this.
If you like your profiles treacly and fawning, check out the one Leander Schaerlaeckens did about Freddy Adu for ESPN. At various times when reading the article, if you concentrate real hard, you just might hear the brass and string sections rising and fading, led in and out of each movement by some dramatically tinkling piano. Adu says in the piece that he sees himself playing in England or Spain in the next three years. The short term goal of securing a regular starting spot on the Union might be a good idea.
I don’t know how long it has been available, but the Danny Califf Fathead Wall Decal pack showed up twice in my news aggregator this morning. I can’t decide if the fact that Califf’ is not wearing a Bimbo jersey means the product has been available for some time or if Fathead decided parent’s wouldn’t want the word on their kid’s wall.
The Union and the Harrisburg City Islanders will host their second annual joint tryout session Dec. 19–20 at the Net Sports Complex in Palmyra, PA, the home training ground of the City Islanders.
Soccer America’s Paul Gardner thinks it is a big mistake that MLS is in discussions to bring retired English referee Keith Hackett to the league as the new Director of Officials, despite his 40-years of experience as an official. While most MLS fans would agree that the level of officiating in the league is terrible, Gardner says,
“It is not the best in the world, nor is it the worst. Very much like all other refereeing…And who is it who levels the criticism? Why, invariably the coaches and players and fans of teams that are looking for a convenient—actually, the traditional—excuse for games that have been lost. Not, in other words, the most reliable or objective of critics…All things considered, I think American referees do a remarkably good job. They do work at a disadvantage, because unlike referees in the main soccer countries—say, Germany, Italy, England, Argentina, Brazil—they lack the step-ladder of leagues of increasing toughness in which to learn their profession…This is not an easy problem to solve—and it is certainly not one that can be tackled by bringing in foreign referees…Hackett has one absolutely fatal blot on his refereeing escutcheon…Simply that he is English…with the saturation TV coverage that we get of the EPL, we see English (or British) referees at work all the time. We know their style—in particular, we know their approach to physical play. That approach can only be described as tolerant. More tolerant, I suggest, than that of referees anywhere else on the globe. Certainly more tolerant than should be permitted in MLS.”
Following the news that MLS surpassed the NBA and the NHL in average attendance this year, MLS Rumors has put together graphs showing how MLS compares to other leagues in the Americas and other “new leagues” around the world. The bottom line? MLS is doing pretty damn well.
MLS sent a questionnaire to fans in the Baltimore area on Tuesday asking them if they would support a MLS team in their city. The survey asks if respondents would prefer to see DC United, Columbus Crew, FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls or Philadelphia Union move to Baltimore.
The calls for setting Juan Agudelo free from New York are growing.
The girls’ Catholic League final on Thursday at 6pm, also at Ryan, will feature Little Flower v Archbishop Wood, who are playing to become the first girls’ team in league history to win the title three consecutive times.
Friends Central and Germantown Friends will meet in the Friends School League girls’ final on Thursday but the Inquirer does not list the time or the place.
Richie Williams, recently named the US Men’s U-18 team, is profiled.
Lionel Messi scored his 200th career goal for Barcelona in Tuesday’s 4–0 win over Plzen in the Champions League. He also scored his second consecutive hat-trick, his 13th for Barcelona. Messi, need I remind you, is 24-years-old.
Messi told a French soccer publication that Pele still has not sent the DVD of career highlights that Brazilian legend promised to send.
The London Metropolitan Police have launched a formal investigation into allegations that John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand. Chelsea, held to a draw by Belgian-side Genk, is unlikely to face sanction from UEFA after its “fans” chanted taunts of Ferdinand in Tuesday’s Champions League game because match officials did not report the chants as racist. The club condemned the chants.
Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini says “everything will be like before” if only Carlos Tevez will apologize to himself and the team. “Sorry is a little word, an easy word,” Mancini said. “Everything depends on Carlos. But I think these are easy words – very, very easy. If he apologises then everything will be like before. If not, then we look at [selling him in] January.” By “like before,” does Mancini mean a brooding atmosphere of discontent and doubt rather than the current one of righteous indignation?
Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke says he’s inspired by what the Glazer’s have done at Manchester United. Easy, you Gunners out there, he’s impressed by how they have marketed the club to increase revenue off of the pitch, not how they’ve saddled the club with debt.