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“A tough pill to swallow” – Recaps & reaction to Union’s season-ending loss, playoff news, more

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Philadelphia Union

The season is over.

Amobi Okugo said, “It’s tough. We had chance all the way through the season and a chance to put away teams that were behind us in the standings. We didn’t do that and it caught up to us and now we don’t have any more games to play.” He added, “It feels like a waste. Thirty-four games and you don’t have anything to play for anymore.”

Sheanon Williams said, “The whole season is gone, wasted. There are no good feelings.”

Jeff Parke said, “This is a tough pill to swallow, but we put ourselves in this boat, and we tried to dig out of a hole we couldn’t get out of.”

Jack McInerney said, “I don’t think really anyone expected us to even be here but we knew we had the talent. A couple finishes or stops here or there and we are easily in the playoffs. We just have to grow upon it and fix these mistakes.” He added, ” You could have said the same thing last year because we were awful. We just let ourselves down and we didn’t really learn from last year.”

John Hackworth tried to strike a more optimistic pose. “I think there’s a lot of guys in that locker room who are going to be back here next year and are really going to have profited from this year and the experiences this team has had. It’s hard for me to sit here and tell you guys that I think the future looks bright, but in fact, I really think that it does. We have a couple pieces that we need to change and we have some tough decisions in the offseason just like any other team, but I would look at it very optimistically, because there’s a lot of guys in that locker room that have great futures ahead of them. And I think our team is one that’s building.”

Looking forward, Williams said what the team needs to do is very simple. “We need to be smarter. There were games that we didn’t play well or didn’t finish — Seattle, Dallas, Salt Lake, Montreal — games where we should have taken three points or at least one point. Those experiences go in a bag, and we’ll learn from it.”

Parke agreed. “We need to finish games. The games that are close, we need to be more of a mature group and finish off teams. Those are the little things you look at. It’s those points that matter in the end of the season.”

Recaps from PSP, Philadelphia Union.com, The Inquirer, Delco Times, CSN Philly, phillyBurbs.com, NJ.com, Delaware Online, Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, SportingKC.com, Kansas City Star, KC Kingdom, MLSsoccer.com, SBI, Goal.com, The Sports Network, and The AP.

With the end of the Union’s 2013 season come the beginning of the season postmortems:

Matthew De George: “In many ways, the final 10 minutes Saturday served as a microcosm for the Union’s 2013 season. They showed an ability to play with any team in the league and get results — like a win four weeks ago in Kansas City — that defied the expectations held for this team…But they also showed an alarming propensity to play down to opposition, squander leads and fail to finish off teams when given chances. On balance, those problems are what decided the fate of the season.”

Charles Cuttone: “Even if the soccer gods do help those who help themselves, the Union didn’t do that on Saturday. It’s not surprising. In typical Union fashion, they never quit. Other than an abysmal 5-1 loss to New England on August 25, that’s never been their style. But, they also have rarely proven they can rise to the occasion.”

Matthew Waters: “One of the hardest things to swallow about the Union’s season is just how far they seemed to fall, especially on offense.”

Steve Davis: “If we boil it down, the Union’s failure to make the playoffs was about an offense that simply doesn’t work…Why? Start with the lack of creativity…There’s no discernible attacking plan at PPL Park, other than a general use of Casey as a hold-up target. And when the Union does get balls forward, there’s just not enough quality in the crossing, shooting and movement near goal.”

Marc Narducci: “Despite the gains the team made, this was a season of wasted opportunities. And that is why any objective observer wouldn’t call this a success, a fact that will become even more pronounced once the postseason begins and the Union are on the outside.”

Ryan Bright: “[W]hile the team leaves a legacy of late-season disappointment and an inability to grab the advantage when it’s presented, 2013 could also be known as a season of over-achievement.”

De George quite rightly observes, “the truth was evident over the five-game stretch the Union finished the season on: two wins, two losses and a draw. Echoed in a final record of 12 wins and 12 losses, it was merely an average season, nothing more, nothing less…the fact remains that this is a Union team that didn’t do enough to earn the honor of a playoff berth. For every high point, there was one equally low. And on balance for the season, the ledger read against their favor.”

At Union Tally, the Union’s 2013 season in five forgettable moments.

Jeff Parke talks nutrition.

Local

The Archbishop Ryan girls’ team defeated Archbishop Wood 1-0 to claim the Philadelphia Catholic League title.

The Catholic League boys’ final will feature Father Judge against Lansdale Catholic on Tuesday

Philly.com has a report on last week’s second annual Soccer for Success sweet potato dinner in Chester.

MLS

In the final weekend of Eastern Conference play, first place New York (59 points) came from behind to defeat Chicago (49 points) 5-2. The win earned New York the Supporters Shield and knocked Chicago into sixth place and out of the playoffs. Second place Kansas City’s (58 points) 2-1 win over the Union (46 points) assured Philadelphia of a seventh place finish. New England (51 points) defeated eight place Columbus (41 points) 1-0 to finish in third place. Houston (51 points) finished in fourth place with Sunday’s 2-1 road win over last place DC (16 points). With the loss, DC set a new league record for the fewest wins in a season at three. Despite losing 1-0 to ninth place Toronto (29 points), Montreal finished fifth in the East to claim the final playoff spot.

The Western Conference finished with Portland on top with 57 points, followed by Real Salt Lake (56 points), LA Galaxy (53 points), Seattle Sounders (52 points), and Colorado Rapids (51 points).

Clint Dempsey scored his first goal since returning to MLS in the 1-1 draw with LA on Sunday. Omar Gonzalez scored a clear goal in the game but Mark Geiger waved it off.

The playoffs begin on Wednesday with Seattle hosting Colorado at 10:30pm. On Thursday, Houston hosts Montreal at 8 pm.

At SI, Brian Straus breaks down the upcoming playoff fixtures. ProSoccerTalk has ten playoff storylines. You can download the playoff bracket here.

Vancouver’s Camilo Sanvezzo scored a hat trick in the Whitecaps 3-0 win over Colorado to claim the Golden Boot title with 22 goals on the season.

Columbus Crew chairman and owner-operator Anthony Precourt has confirmed the club is interested in pursuing Bob Bradley for head coach.

It looks like San Jose will sign interim head coach Mark Watson to a long-term deal. In other San Jose news, apparently Chris Wondolowski played much of the season with a broken right foot.

Stadium backers may ask the Florida legislature for an additional $30 million in tax breaks to help finance construction of Orlando City’s downtown stadium.

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has unveiled plans that include provisions for soccer games at the proposed $1 billion retractable-roof stadium that will replace the Georgia Dome. I thought MLS was all about soccer specific stadiums?

US

The USWNT defeated New Zealand 4-1 in friendly in San Francisco on Sunday. Postgame quote sheet here.

The San Jose Mercury News profiles Christen Press, who had a goal and an assist in Sunday’s friendly.

The US games at the CONCACAF U-17 Women’s Championship will be carried by Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Soccer 2Go. The livestream on Fox Soccer 2Go can be viewed for free using the special code “U17WNT.”

Michael Bradley played his first game for Roma on Sunday since suffering an ankle injury with the US, scoring the lone goal in his team’s ten-men win over Udinese.

Jurgen Klinsmann has confirmed that Julian Green will be in the US camp for the upcoming friendlies against Scotland and Austria. However, Green, who has represented Germany for UEFA U-19 qualifying, has not filed for the one-time switch that would make him available to play for the US and will only be in camp for training.

Elsewhere

Michel Platini has proposed expanding the World Cup field to 40 teams beginning with the 2018 World Cup in Russia. “I totally agree with Mr Blatter that we need more African and Asian [countries]. But instead of taking away some European, we have to go to 40 teams. We can add two African, two Asiatic, two American, one Oceania and one from Europe…Football is changing … we have 209 associations, so why reduce? Make more people happy.”

The Guardian’s Paul Wilson writes that countries like Russia and Qatar should be told that if you can’t act civilized, you can’t host the World Cup.

Describing fines and closed door games as punishment for racist behavior “nonsense,” Sepp Blatter says FIFA must get tough and use point deductions and disqualification from tournaments as punishment.

Blatter told students at Oxford last week that he is not “a ruthless parasite sucking the lifeblood out of the world and out of football,” nor is he “The Godfather of the FIFA gravy train, an out of touch, heartless schmoozer.”

NBC News talks to Dan Gaspar, the American who is an assistant coach for the Iranian national team.

One Comment

  1. PSP please keep an eye out and let us know if MLS or the ref’s assoc or anybody else acknowledges Geiger’s screw up. He is horrendous.

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