Photo: Earl Gardner
The Union’s preseason in Florida ended on a sour note with a 2-0 loss to DC United in their final game in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. Dwayne De Rosario scored first when he converted a first half penalty kick—awarded when Zac MacMath took out former Union man Lionard Pajoy, who was on a breakaway after Bakary Soumare slipped on the ball— before being shown a straight red card in the 57th minute after he headbutted former DC man Danny Cruz following a hard tackle from Brian Carroll. Pajoy, after missing chances throughout the game, finally finished one in the 67th minute to put the game out of reach.
The Washington Post’s Steven Goff sets the mood of the match nicely: “Tackles were executed with extra force. Elbows were as prominent as feet. A searing sun at Disney’s sports complex added to the combustible brew for a game between teams with a history of foul behavior, clubs that had collided three days earlier.”
Danny Cruz explained what led to De Rosario’s ejection. “He elbowed Brian in the head and then he pushed him. So I came and pushed him away and he came up pretending like he was going to punch me and then head-butted me. It was a cheap shot.” Cruz continued, “It is to be expected between our two clubs. There is a lot of bad blood and I think it’s a preview, hopefully, of the intensity that is going to come this year.”
DC United coach Ben Olsen said, “It’s a long preseason. It’s chippy. People miss their beds and their wives, their kids, their girlfriends. We want to get the season going. It happens.”
ProSoccerTalk uses the game to wonder if preseason cards should carry over to the regular season (No, they should not.)
So, what of the actual play on the field? Union reports suggest that they were the more dominant team in the first half but, and this is all too familiar to Union fans, failed to convert the opportunities they created in front of goal. John Hackworth said,
I thought we played a really good first half. We had a costly mistake where a guy slips at midfield and it amounts to the penalty. But certainly I was pleased with the way that we played and the chances created. We have to take advantage of those chances, and you have to execute when you create them like that…In the second half, they were up a goal, and we needed to play harder—which was one of the reasons that we dictated the first half—and we didn’t raise our game and take it to them. Instead we made a couple of silly mistakes, they got a second one, and that was all she wrote.
Soccer America’s assessment of the Union’s preseason reads, “Except for a 3-0 win over Toronto FC in its third game at the Disney Pro Classic, there wasn’t much in the Union’s preseason campaign to excited about … Philadelphia scored only two goals in its other five games. Neither of the Union’s former Best XI players, offseason acquisitions Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey, scored in preseason … The Union is still the youngest team in MLS — eight starters are 24 or younger — though Coach John Hackworth insists it is a good group.”
In an open letter to season ticket holders, which was also run as a full page ad in the Sunday Inquirer, Hackworth touches on the brew ha ha that followed last week’s roster cuts. “The reality was that we only had a couple of roster spots available, which meant that we had to let go of some guys that we really liked and thought could potentially make really good professionals. Add in the fact that Freddy still occupies a spot on our roster, and that means that there is one less player to put on it…Long story short, we went into this preseason knowing that we would have to make some tough choices and let some guys go who we would want to be here otherwise.”
Hackworth also said in the letter,
I think that we’re a more balanced team than last year. We are not a one-trick pony, so to speak. We can probably hurt our opponent in a number of different ways. Part of that is being able to line up in various tactical arrangements that we hope to take advantage of based on who we’re playing…On Saturday, we play an extremely tough opponent. But regardless of who we play, we want to show you what we stand for on the field. We will be playing for you. We want to represent our fan base, our city and our organization. And when we do, we want PPL Park to be rocking.”
At ProSoccerTalk, Steve Davis previews the 2013 Union, who he predicts will finish sixth in the East. Says Davis, “[E]verything to like and not to like is contained in the brat pack of wonderful young talent around PPL Park…Head coach John Hackworth, blessed with ample patience and equipped with plenty of experience working with younger types, is the right guy to have around them, to nurse them through the inevitable boo-boos and rough patches. That said, there will be mistakes and rough patches.”
In ESPN’s preview, Jason Davis says, “for all of the positive feelings at PPL Park, plenty of unknowns threaten any significant improvement over 2012.” Still, after all that went on in 2012, “2013 should — at the very least — be something of a palate cleanser for the Philadelphia Union.”
At Union Dues, Jon Marks considers the many “ifs” surrounding the Union at the start of the 2013 season.
Amobi Okugo is the latest respondent to ASN’s questionnaire. He kills it.
The latest Freddy Adu news is just more of the same.
USL president Tim Holt talks about the new USL PRO-MLS partnership.
Jlon Flippens (FC DELCO; Philadelphia, Pa.) and Shea Moyer (FC Revolution; Wyomissing, Pa.) have been called up for this week’s U-15 GNT training camp at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Villanova’s Jami Kranich is with the USWNT U-23 team in Spain, Feb. 22-March 5. There the team will face the U-23 sides of Norway, England and Sweden.
Don Garber will conduct his annual “March to Soccer” press conference via YouTube on Wednesday at 6pm. The event is “the first of its kind for a commissioner of a major sports league.”
The league announced on Monday morning a partnership with the French Football Federation aimed at benefiting academy coaches.
The league launched a new design for its website on Monday. I don’t like it.
Justin Mapp scored the lone goal in Montreal Impact’s 1-0 win over Columbus to claim the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic tournament title. Also at the Disney Pro Classic, Kansas City defeated Toronto 1-0.
Chicago Fire drew 1-1 with Vancouver to win the Carolina Challenge Cup.
Seattle have signed former Liverpool defender Djimi Traore.
Canadian national team defender Nana Attakora has signed with San Jose.
Real Salt Lake have signed goalkeeper Josh Saunders and midfielder Khari Stephenson.
At MLSsoccer.com, Greg Lalas says the league and its supporters are entering a brave new era as it enters its 18th year.
MLS Talk’s lead-up to First Kick includes discussions about how the unbalanced schedule has worked out, whether Generation adidas is working, and whether 2013 will mark the end of the Western Conference’s dominance.
The “Big Debate” at MLSsoccer.com is whether Carlos Ruiz will score 10 goals for DC United this year. Perhap’s the big debate should be if Ruiz will play a complete season with DC.
Here are five story lines to watch for 2013.
Going in the other direction, Nigel Reo-Coker is high on MLS.
Some ex-MLSer made his debut with Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday. I think he used to play for LA.
The US defeated Costa Rica 1-0 on Friday to win their group in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico. The US next faces Canada in the quarterfinals on Tuesday (6pm, FSC).
Post game quote sheet here.
The USMNT U-17s lost 4-0 to Mexico in a warmup game in Panama ahead of the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship April 6-19.
Sources tell SBI that the Gold Cup final will be played at Chicago’s Soldier FIeld.
Serie A officials will meet to decide what kind of fine Inter Milan should pay after its fans racially abused Mario Balotelli, who used to play for Inter, durint the 1-1 draw against AC Milan on Sunday.
The Cairos goal-line technology system joins Hawk-Eye and GoalRef as the third candidate in the running to be used for the 2014 World Cup.
The Brazilian Air Force will use four Israeli-made drones to help provide security during June’s Confederations Cup.
ESPN has sold its UK channels to British Telecom.