Photo: Earl Gardner
This is a week of mixed feelings. While the Union show continued signs of improved play—scoring two goals away from home, and coming from a 2–0 hole to tie—they nevertheless walked out of Crew Stadium with a loss, and no amount of whining that the third Crew goal was offside will change that fact. And, it should not be overlooked that the two goals before that had little to do with the referee (and quite a bit to do with last week’s POTW, Amobi Okugo).
This muddle of feelings—some good, some bad—was reflected in the voting for POTW, where there were several nominees but no clear-cut favorite. Danny Cruz’s tireless effort and energy was again on display, and he scored the PK with aplomb. Jack Mac may not have done much else, but he did very well to score the leveler after coming on as a sub. Michael Farfan continued to prove that he’s the Union’s best attacking midfielder. Even some non-Philly folk were put forward: Clint Dempsey, for scoring the winning goal that broke a 23-year drought for Spurs against Manchester United, and Jozy Altidore, who continues to absolutely destroy the Dutch league.
In the end, though, one man rose above the rest: Antoine Hoppenot. Hoppenot hasn’t hit the heights he found following John Hackworth’s takeover of coaching responsibilities of late, but on Saturday he once again showed the electric pace and eye for a smart run that make him such a dangerous proposition. Fouled for the penalty—and fouled again for a penalty that was not given—Hoppenot was the point of the Union spear, terrifying the Crew back line for the entire time he was on the field.
So, here’s to you, Antoine Hoppenot. The Union may be out of the playoffs, but let’s hope that efforts like yours on Saturday are precursors of better times to come, and that we might catch a glimpse of those times in the remaining games of the 2012 season.