Columbus Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson said after Wednesday night’s larcenous win over the Philadelphia Union, “Playing down a man and absorbing that much pressure and still countering for a goal? That’s the mark of a playoff team.”
Of course, the corollary to Lampson’s comments would be “Playing up a man and producing that much pressure but being unable to finish and then giving up the winning goal in the dying moments of stoppage time? That’s the mark of a team that is not going to the playoffs.”
And John Hackworth knows that. Speaking of the team’s playoff hopes at the postgame press conference, Hackworth said,
“You know, I’m the eternal optimist, but I’ll say I’m not stupid, either, and unless we go on some amazing run, tonight was a game we had to get three points in, and really have a six-point swing, so I don’t think it’s a possibility anymore.
“I think we should stop talking about it, personally. I think we should concentrate on playing good soccer the rest of the way and see how many points we can get and see what position we can put ourselves in and improve and look towards the future.”
In case you were wondering, ten games remain to be played in the 2012 season.
Union Tally notes, “The Union have allowed 30 goals this season, 17 of which have been in the final 15 minutes of a half. Even worse, 9 of them have come inside the final five minutes of a half … and two of those were tonight.”
Though time still remained, the winning goal saw fans around PPL Park—including in the River End—streaming for the exits. Antoine Hoppenot said after the game, “This is bad. You look at the locker room right now and a lot of guys got dressed and left. You want to get out of here as quickly as possible. Everything reminds you of the game. We don’t think we deserved that. We thought we played well today and we got ourselves a lot of chances.”
Hackworth said, “It’s just a cruel game sometimes. To have that many of the shots, to have that many opportunities. To go up a man for the final 20 minutes and not get a result out of the game, it’s mind-boggling. But that is this game sometimes.”
Before the game, Hackworth said the team would lean on Jack McInerney. McInerney said after the game, “It’s tough playing up there because we play a 4-3-3, but the wide guys tuck back. I’m not the biggest guy, so I can’t really play as that target striker. I just need players to make runs off of me, and create stuff for me too.”
So how do the players look ahead? Brian Carroll said, “It’s very difficult but we have to keep fighting and playing until the very end in order to have confidence in ourselves, in each other, as a group for the rest of this year and for next year.”
Hoppenot said, “All we can do is play. I know I’m going to go out there and play every day, every game, like it’s a playoff game anyways. And I know every single guy in the locker room is going to do the same thing.”
Chris Vito is undoubtedly not alone in his suggestion for how the Union should see out the rest of the season: “Play the kids. Give them minutes. All of them. Already the league’s youngest club, the Union could go even younger.” Is it too soon?
Calros Valdes came out of the match 55th minute for what was described as a hamstring injury. Valdes said, “[I collided] with the keeper and when I landed I feel little bit pain on my leg. I don’t know what happened. We will see tomorrow what the doctors say. I wasn’t comfortable staying. I have to prevent something worse.”
Hackworth said of Valdes’ status for Saturday’s game in New England, “Up in the air. I don’t think he did it to the point where—it was more preventative for him to come out. We’ll get our staff on top of it right away, I know they already are, and we’ll evaluate.”
Valdes has been called up for national team duty for Colombia while Gabriel Gomez has been called up for Panama (although they might want to reconsider based on his pitiful performance on Wednesday night). Both are scheduled to depart to join their national teams after the New England game on Saturday and will play World Cup qualifiers on Sept. 7 and 11 before rejoining the Union. Following Saturday’s New England game, the Union are off until Sept. 15 when they travel to face Toronto FC.
For the second game in a row, Freddy Adu did not start, coming on as a late sub against Columbus. Martin Rogers writes at Yahoo Sports that Adu’s options are running out. An unnamed “leading European soccer agent” tells Rogers, “Where is he going to go now? He has been all over and never cut it. Everyone knows he can play, but who is going to set up their entire team around one unproven American? I’m glad I’m not touting him around Europe, because you’d struggle to find takers.”
Writing at The 700 Level, Gordon Strachan evaluates Freddy Adu’s impact on games and finds the Union’s win/loss record is much better when he plays more than half a game (6-6-1; Strachan explains in the comments section that he mistakenly included the US Open Cup win over DC instead of the loss to DC in league play in his original calculations) then when he plays less than half a game (1-7-3 including Wednesday’s loss).
At SI, Brian Carroll tops Alecko Eskadarian’s Best XI list of underrated players in MLS.
Union Dues looks into its crystal soccer ball to predict the Union starting lineup for opening day in 2013.
La Salle’s women’s team is ranked No. 1 in the latest NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Region poll for the second week in a row.
In other Eastern Conference action, DC and New York played to a 2–2 draw while New England and Chivas played to a 3–3 draw. New England has scored 6 goals in the last two games, which is more than the Union have scored since the two teams met on July 29.
Dwayne De Rosario became just the seventh MLS player to score 100 goals when he scored last night.
It’s official, Caleb Porter is the new head coach of Portland Timbers. Porter will complete the 2012 season at University of Akron before taking over the job in Portland in 2013.
At Goal.com Kyle McCarthy examines the “contractual security” Porter leaves behind in making the move from college to pro soccer by comparing perks in his college coaching contract with what has been revealed via litigation about Peter Nowak’s contract with the Union. McCarthy notes parenthetically, “Nowak cost several MLS teams some money when the terms of his contract were made public earlier this year…One would imagine the Union brass has heard a word or two about its severance practices from the league offices and the executives of other teams since jettisoning its former coach and sparking litigation in the process.”
Sporting News notes that Porter’s hiring is only the second time in the past ten years that MLS has gone into the college ranks for a new coach. FC Dallas hired Schellas Hyndman from SMU.
The league’s Disciplinary Committee has fined DC United head coach Ben Olsen an undisclosed amount for his colorfully heated remarks following the Geiger Show on August 19 in the match against the Union.
Former DC United defender Bryan Namoff is suing the club and former head coach Tom Soehn. Steven Goff reports at the Washington Post that Namoff, whose professional soccer career ended in 2009 because of concussion-related symptoms, claims the club failed to properly evaluate his injury and cleared him to play too soon. Soehn is now an executive at Vancouver Whitecaps.
Are Vancouver fans being fickle and hypocritical?
Jorge Vergara and his wife, Angelica Fuentes, are now sole owners of Chivas USA after buying out brothers Antonio and Lorenzo Cue.
In CONCACAF Champions League play, LA Galaxy defeated Puerto Rico Islanders 4–0. Tonight, Seattle is on the road to Caledonia (8pm, FSC) and Houston is away to Olimpia (10pm, FSC).
Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Michael Bradley could all be unavailable for the upcoming USMNT World Cup qualifiers on Sept. 7 and Sept. 11 against Jamaica. Soccer America explores.
The US will face North Korea on Friday in the Women’s U-20 World Cup in Japan (6:20am, ESPNU, ESPN3).
Penn Live has a Q&A with Carli Lloyd.
The Champions League draw takes place today at 11:30am. If you can’t watch the draw on FSC, you can watch a live stream of the draw here.