Player ratings

Analysis and player ratings: Union 3-5 Impact

Another quality opponent, another multi-goal defeat.

Unlike in the losses to LA Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City, however, the Union never looked like they were a match for their opponents. Even Jack McInerney’s 5th minute equalizer came from a Montreal mistake, not from any particularly inspiring play from the Union.

While the back line has shouldered much of the blame—and rightfully so—for the 5 goals deposited in the back of Zac MacMath’s net on Saturday night, there is plenty of blame for the entire team and coaching staff to share.

How to lose a midfield: Central areas
Figure A

Figure A: Romero sets up Di Vaio for Montreal’s third goal.

Winning the middle of the field is critical to almost any soccer match of consequence. If a soccer pitch was a tic-tac-toe board, John Hackworth would have asked Kleberson and Brian Carroll to secure the center square. Between the club’s captain and a former World Cup winner, Union fans would expect the duo to get the job done, yet against Felipe Martins and Patrice Bernier, both players were found wanting with alarming regularity.

Perhaps Kleberson’s first Union match against the Galaxy proved a false positive, with the match far too open and space easily acquired. Against Logan Pause and Jeff Larentowicz the week prior, Kleberson was introduced to a Major League Soccer reality that he will have to accept sooner than later. As poor a side as Chicago looked against the Union, both of those players gave Kleberson the type of physical treatment he can expect from nearly every team he faces the rest of the way out. Against Montreal, Bernier did the job of both Chicago midfielders, and then some. Powerful and confident on the ball, Bernier went about his business with ease, while Kleberson backed down from the fight.

Montreal’s own Brazilian had no such intentions. Driving up the field to sit beneath his strikers, Felipe dragged Carroll wherever he went, with the Union captain often vacating his own post to follow the playmaker.

This is illustrated by Montreal’s third goal (Figure A) in which Andres Romero brought the ball down the Union’s left flank. Amobi Okugo and Jeff Parke are both back in position, yet Carroll fails to give Okugo, who is closest to Felipe, a shout to pick up the runner. Carroll instead follows his run into the box, exposing the area at the top of the box. Simple communication would have resulted in an exchange of marks and Carroll would have been well placed to spy the late arriving run of the mercurial Di Vaio. Instead, the Italian was left free with Kleberson slowly trotting behind the play.

How to lose a midfield: Flanks
Figure B

Figure B: Cruz pressed rather than contained on the first and third goals.

While Bernier and Felipe were running the show through the middle, Justin Mapp and Andres Romero were finding plenty of joy out wide. Many years will pass before Union fans forget about Mapp’s largely one-footed style of play (and that’s putting it mildly). Yet on Saturday, Danny Cruz consistently over-pursued the Impact winger to his non-dominant, right side. On both Montreal’s first and third (Figure B) goals, Cruz abandoned containment in favor of pressing up the line, allowing Mapp to easily scoot past him into the center of the field to feed Andrew Wenger up the wing, and Di Vaio over the top, respectively. Once Mapp skipped past Cruz, the Union’s situation was exacerbated with Carroll personally seeing to every run from Felipe. Suddenly, the most highly prized real estate on the pitch was vacant and available for Mapp and other Impact attackers to exploit.

On the opposite wing, Michael Farfan was having just as many problems with Romero. While the Union use two right-footed wingers in their setup, the Impact’s starting XI deployed southpaws at both wide midfield slots. Romero, the most traditional wide attacker of the four on the pitch, relished the touchline, looking to dart up and down the chalk to set the table for Di Vaio and Wenger. Never a winger in the most traditional sense, Farfan’s tendencies take him inside, looking to drive through the back line with either his dribbling or passing. Debate will certainly rage on about whether Farfan was doing extra cheating centrally on Saturday night because of the ease with which Bernier had neutralized Kleberson, or whether the Brazilian playmaker was less effective because Farfan took up too much of his space. Regardless, Romero graciously accepted the space left outside and behind the advancing Farfan, eagerly attacking Sheanon Williams, who was already having a tough enough time keeping tabs on Montreal’s strike duo.

Player Ratings

Zac MacMath – 4

Hard to hand MacMath much blame for 4 of the 5 Impact goals, yet his mistake on Montreal’s 4th took the wind out of the Union sails. Yes, Casey got beat. Yes, Williams also got beat. Neither of those excuses MacMath getting caught flat-footed on a glancing header that should have been saved.

Sheanon Williams – 2

When he wasn’t losing track of DiVaio, Williams was ill-advisedly trying to physically intimidate Andres Romero. Romero had none of it and beat Williams with regularity.

Amobi Okugo – 3

Rarely looks as miscast in defense as he did in Montreal. The movement of Di Vaio, like that of Henry before him, exposed Okugo’s instincts towards zonal (also known as midfield) marking. If he is to become an elite defender, Okugo will need to strengthen not only his man marking, but also his ability to give assignments to others.

Jeff Parke – 2

Slow and sluggish on his return from a hamstring injury, Parke collapsed deep towards his own goal too frequently, whether there was a runner or not. As the veteran leader of the defense, Parke must address the alarming lack of communication if the Union are to stop the bleeding in Toronto.

Ray Gaddis – 3

Did the most he could with Mapp, who was given a free run from midfield far too frequently. Still waiting to find his chemistry at left back alongside Parke after appearing to have made strides against Chicago while teaming with Baky Soumare.

Michael Farfan – 3

Began the match with real promise when he notched his first assist of 2013 and looked dangerous threading the ball through to McInerney. Unable to maintain the pressure when Montreal took over the midfield, Farfan can hold his head high as the only Union midfielder who at least tried to push play forward.

Kleberson – 2

The most disappointing of bunch. Kleberson showed no stomach for the fight and was completely neutralized by Patrice Bernier. Not only did he fail to spur on the attack, he shirked all defensive responsibilities, twice failing to pick up Di Vaio’s late goal-scoring runs.

Brian Carroll – 3

Allowed himself to be dragged around too easily by Felipe, pulling him too deep and out of his preferred slot in center midfield. Communication between the goalkeeper, center backs and center mids is vital and as the captain, Carroll must do a better job of sorting it out. Grew alarmingly weary in the second half considering the Union are ill-equipped to rest him.

Danny Cruz – 2

A non-factor offensively, Cruz’s performance will be remembered for his defensive negligence, as he time and again pushed Justin Mapp inside onto his dominant, left foot. That was on the infrequent occasions that he chose to defend at all.

Jack McInerney – 5

Keeps grabbing goals, but after leveling the match 5 minutes in, barely got a sniff of the ball in the final third. The Union must do a better job of keeping their most dangerous player in positions where he can score goals, rather than in midfield while Le Toux and Cruz run in his channels.

Sebastien Le Toux – 4

Too little, too late from a player whose too frequently poor and heavy touches in open play cost his side the opportunity to attack coherently during the periods of the match when the result was still in doubt.

Substitutions

Conor Casey – 3

Won’t like the look of the replay of Montreal’s 4th where he set up shop in front of the near post run and somehow allowed Wenger to out jump him for the eventual winner.

Antoine Hoppenot – 5

It is both odd and fitting that on a night where Hoppenot was as ineffective as Union fans have seen him all season, he finally opened his 2013 account.

Keon Daniel – 3

Entering a match with the Union in dire need of aggressive, attacking play, Daniel proved yet again that he only has one speed, slow.

Gonz-a-meter

Juan Guzman – 5

While there were certainly moments of frustration and aggression, Guzman by and large kept a lid on things. Would have been well within his rights to send off both Kleberson and Felipe for their petulant, dangerous kick-outs.

Expected Lineup for Saturday’s Match at Toronto FC

4-4-2

MacMath; Gaddis, Parke, Okugo, Williams; Carroll, Cruz, Kleberson, Farfan; Le Toux, McInerney

 

35 Comments

  1. Southside Johnny says:

    Painfully accurate assessment. Any thoughts on on why Casey is such a different player off the bench? Ball watching defenders make me crazy and I can’t remember seeing so much in one game beyond U-12 in my life.

  2. I say start Casey and Put in Le Toux over Cruz. I mean Cruz is kinda sorta a midfielder but not really. So have Le Toux be a Midfielder but actually a forward. Offensively he can’t be worse than Cruz and he isn’t a defensive liability.

    • I think this a great idea, something I’ve been waiting for all season. Le Toux can play on the left side with no problem – both his goal against Montreal and his assist at home against Chicago were left footed – and his work rate actually goes towards playing defense, not just sprinting up field to wait for the ball.

    • kingkowboys says:

      Danny Cruz is a winger. He works best in a traditional 4-3-3 where he can play wide in the corners and cut inside. A system where he has less defensive responsibilities. He can’t play midfield and he can’t finish to be a striker. He shouldn’t be on the field in the formations we run out there. I’m in favor of anyone else at LM/RM.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      Honestly at this point I would rather play down a man than have Cruz out there

  3. Great One says:

    Where to begin… I can’t believe I stayed away from email, internet, facebook etc so I could watch the game when I got home last night, and that’s what I had to watch. You know, on one hand you hate to overreact (Which the column last week ill-advisedly told us to just keep cheering, don’t worry about anything), but on the other hand our biggest problem now is… THIS IS IT guys. We have no one else. Maybe we see Casey back for Le Toux some games, maybe we give up on life and see Keon back. But this is our team, this is the rest of the year, period. Hackworth made it pretty clear they aren’t really looking at anyone in particular, if someone comes up then they’ll take a look, that’s it.
    .
    I usually make notes on things during the game, and other than Marfan getting his first assist and Jack scoring again, everything else really was negative. The 4 things that came up over and over, even though they were clearly not the only problems:
    1. Carroll just looks plain slow. He lunged, reached, chased, and got beat the whole game.
    2. Cruz is lost, and offers literally nothing to a game, if we don’t have the ball with someone able to put a ball through to him. Otherwise he has no skill on the ball and just runs around.
    3. Le Toux, I love him, but Casye needs to start. Le Toux simply doesn’t have the on-the-ball creativity or hold up ability that needs to be paired with Jack. He hustles non stop, but he should be our second half sub.
    4. Okugo is alarmingly getting worse. The guy clearly is fast, and has great distribution and tackling/head skills. But he really just has gotten worse and worse with his positioning. This guy should be the future of our club, we need to fix this somehow.
    .
    Like I said there was plenty else, but those 4 things happened over and over. I know this has been said before, but it really hurts the broadcast not having the announcers actually at the game.
    .
    Boy was anyone else lusting over Romero? What I would give to have him on the Union.
    .
    Keon Daniel… Can’t the guy just be traded or go away for a while?
    .
    RIP Roger Torres

  4. They are treating the season like the offseason. Cruz shouldn’t be on the field, neither should Carroll or Gaddis. I like Gaddis, but he’s not so good that you can accept that he plays LB with no left foot. It’s amateur hour folks. Carroll is holding Okugo back from the position he’s most suited for and will need to play if he EVER wants USMNT recognition. Hackworth is running this team like he’s Sir Alex. At some point, the style and ability of this team will be a question for Nick the Quick to deal with. Hopefully it’s before the stands in PPL are completely empty.

    • While I agree with everything you say, there’s not much else that can be done. Hackworth traded away the only other players who have played LB and CB for us, so Okugo and Gaddis are the ONLY choices at this point. Anding plays LB, but he has yet to appear in a game, so at the moment Ray is the better option. Hack should’ve been starting Carroll & Okugo in the midfield from the start with Soumare in the back, but he felt Okugo was a better option. Carroll is the Captain, and the only player (besides Okugo) who can play the position he plays, so unless we get a true CB to replace Okugo things have to stay the same, which is very depressing.

  5. I only saw the 2nd half. When Le Toux got pushed into the midfield when Hoppenot came on*, I thought he looked OK there – something we can’t often say.
    .
    I’m a pretty big Le Toux fan, but I think I’d rather see Casey starting along side McInerney – assuming they play in some form of a 4-4-2 at least. I think it’s pretty clear that Casey is a better compliment to McInerney at this point. I’m certainly OK with Le Toux taking Cruz’s spot on the wing, however.
    .
    I was absolutely baffled to see Keon Daniel coming into that game. Frankly, I would’ve preferred Chris Konopka rather than Keon Daniel in that spot – at least Konopka can kick the ball for distance. Slightly less snarky, maybe that’s a spot for Leo Fernandes to get some minutes, and see if he could make something happen.
    .
    * At least, I’m making an assumption that Le Toux pushed into the midfield when Hoppenot came on. And if not when Hoppenot came on, then most certainly when Casey came on for Cruz, which left them with 4 forwards on the field.

  6. This collective performance was so bad that I even think that Jack doesn’t deserve his 5 (he had a great chance in the first half which he put wide with his left).

    The good thing is that all of these players who played so poorly on Sat have other guys breathing down their necks for playing time…oh, that’s right…never mind.

  7. Andy Muenz says:

    With the possible exceptions of Jack and Antoine, I think everyone was overrated by at least a point. Hard to give up 5 goals and still see everyone with at least a 2 rating.

  8. I can’t say I’ve ever watched this club play so bad collectively. Since the entire team was awful, I have to call out the coach. He has no business saying “we don’t get respect, were an elite team, etc.”. God knows what’s going through the players heads listening to that. It’s also very sad being with this team the last 4 years and seeing a club like Montreal doing it right. We as fans deserve a do over, a whole new management team to right this ship. At this point, NYCFC has a better FO after 2 weeks!

  9. It is so depressing being a Union fan.
    Is there ANYTHING you can say about this team that can make us feel better?

    • Dan Walsh says:

      They’re young, they have some talent (at least one rising star), and if the season ended today, they would make the playoffs They’re better now than they were a year ago. They just lost a road match against a good team, something very common in professional soccer.

      How’s that? 😉

      • Great One says:

        He’s being a little over dramatic, but he not necessarily wrong. The moves that have been done offer little confidence going forward. Realistically Jack and Amobi offer the only real huge upside. Marfan has fallen off that path big time. Shaenon has regressed, and Macmath is average at best.
        .
        Other than that, it’s mostly aging players with some skill still or people who don’t even belong in the league.
        .
        My worry is that we will continually be “looking toward the future”, looking to stay on the edge of competitive, as cheaply as possible.

      • Love this comment immeasurably.

      • Dan’s, that is.

    • kingkowboys says:

      I have to agree with Dan. The team is young and Jack Mac could be a star. We are mid table which is an improvement over last year. If we make the playoffs this year I would consider that a successful season after last year. If we barely miss the playoffs it’s a little disappointing but at least entertaining and an OK season. The alarming part of what’s going on is the lack of interest in the coming summer transfer window. If they do nothing it will signal they are comfortable with the status quo and any results this team can get this season are ok. The true test will be the winter transfers and preparing for next year. Assuming Hack is still boss, the expectation to improve the team will be there. If Hack does not, it’s adios, who’s next?

    • Hello?!?!?
      80’s theme night against the Crew.
      Also first 5,000 fans get a coupon to get a free water bottle when they leave. Because If you got the water bottle when you enter you might be tempted to fill it with water and not buy any.

      God I hate the Union sometimes.

      • Of all the reasons to hate a team this seems like probably the most valid

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Hate them for making you wait for the end of the game to get the water bottle or hate them for having the deal with the anti gay company with the stupid mascots?

      • Follow your heart.

  10. ebradlee10 says:

    I long for the day when the Union doesn’t have to worry about one footed players.

  11. MacMath OUT! Carroll OUT! Daniel OUT!

  12. One thing we’ve learned is that there is often stuff going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. To wit: the trading away of our defensive depth was because each player ASKED for a trade.

    Now that we have a little salary cap space, maybe they can get someone else to plug the gaping hole at left midfield.

    To me, the biggest question raised by this game — and a number of other performances this season — is: do we have really good defensive backs who are just not gelling and/or playing up to their potential? Or do we just need better defenders? (In which case, having just traded Soumare looks really unfortunate.) Or is just our midfield woes that are undoing our defnse? It’s easy to get all negative and shout “These guys suck!”, but the truth is that Sheanon Williams has been phenomenal in the recent past, as has Amobi Okugo, as has Jeff Parke. So personally I’m not sure of the answer yet.

    • barry macokiner says:

      I think its a bit of all of it. No one on defense has played to their abilities really. Can’t blame Gaddis for his poor play, he’s learning on the spot. As for everyone else its scary. Our defense is usually good. Also its makes their job harder when the midfield doesn’t do theirs.

      While we didn’t know both Gabe and Soumare asked for trades i still blame the coaching staff for putting them in positions where they wanted to be traded.

      • If it was a cohesive team with solid management then all the defenders wouldn’t ask for a trade! Think about that. If they weren’t asking guys to play out of position and everyone knew they’re defined roles this wouldn’t happen.

    • Dan Walsh says:

      Well said.

    • I think the team has to come to terms with the fact that Amobi Okugo is not a Central Defender. Nor does he want to be one in the future. He is a midfielder and if he doesn’t play where he is comfortable with the Union some team out there will offer him that, and enough money to take away any guilt for leaving the Union.

      The Downside of we play Amobi at the Central Defender because it gets us a talented player on the field in the short term is that it may cost us a talented player in the long term.

  13. I feel as though the biggest problem is not talent of players but that this team is lacking real leadership. Mondragon gave us leadership and the team responded. Nowak couldn’t do it without him, neither can hack. I agree with scottso that many of these “bad” players have been good recently (last season for most). Just buying good players and turning them over does not make for a quality side. Just ask new york the past few years and liverpool. yes these teams win but not like they should for their salaries and “quality” players. what does it take? It appears it starts with a coach, a team leader and a common belief. just ask wigan. yeah they went down but they won the FA cup over man city (whose owner is richer than god).
    I don’t know how but somehow we need to find someone to rally around, a common thread who everyone wants to play for. That is not hackworth or carroll. Until we find that person we will languish and be miserable. I however will still be in the stands hoping for a team to show one day, not 11 players who happen to wear the same colors.

  14. Too many people overvalue Williams. He’s a good guy off the field, but once he gets on the field it turns into him trying to prove he’s cooler or more slick on and off the ball, instead of just playing simple. I can’t believe all the simple movements that bit on.
    Honestly, coming from coach, it is obvious this team is not actually coached. There is no defensive plan or offensive plan tactically, game after game. All players exhibit the same exact traits and we are extremely undisciplined in all forms if the game.
    Hack has talented youth and athletic players, and that’s what has us in 5th. Imagine if we had a real coach!
    Imagine Caleb Porter with this youth!

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