Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union
Union 0-1 Crew
In Thursday’s press conference, John Hackworth said that while the team showed improvement in the games against New York and Orlando, it was concerning that the team had allowed counterattacking goals.
I would say our ball movement and ball circulation has been much better both against Red Bull and Orlando. We were pressing those two teams pretty high up the field and that, for the most part, was pretty good. In both of those games, we were successful in locking those teams in their own half for a while and sustaining that.
At the same time, our concerns are that we have given up two goals that were counter-attack goals that were, in our opinion, goals that we should have been able to cut out before they got to a dangerous point. So we clearly still have some work to do in that area. And there are a lot of other pieces that we need to add in the next two weeks to truly be ready for our season opener against Portland. That is what our focus is right now.
As Dave Zeitlin summarized in an article at CSN Philly, Hackworth “now wants to see his team take the next step: To turn what he called very good ‘organized pressure’ into more goals and stop the lapses that have led to counter-attack goals from opponents.”
With a starting defense in a Saturday’s rain-delayed match against Columbus that featured Fabinho on the left, Sheanon Williams on the right, and a centerback pairing of Amobi Okugo and Aaron Wheeler, the Union prevented any open play goals but lost 1-0 thanks to an 87th minute penalty kick after Amobi Okugo was called for fouling Ryan Finley in the box.
So, where are the goals? Kerith Gabriel writes in his match report that “the final score didn’t reflect the chances created from a new look side that continues to form into a cohesive unit.”
Maurice Edu told Gabriel,
Every game we are gradually getting better in terms of our movements both on and off the ball. Our interchangeability is good and you can see that we create chances as well. But this is what preseason is for, it’s not about results but about getting on the right page and getting our fitness up because it’s not about now, but about being mentally and physically prepared for that first game of the season.
John Hackworth said, “We still have other areas that we are lacking in right now that are a concern. The midfield has been good, but now it’s just about pushing our guys and getting them all mentally and physically prepared to play a higher level than we have been in the past. That right now [as a technical staff] is our challenge.”
Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said of his team’s performance, “I think the important thing in that is at the end of the game, we really wanted to win the game. That group wanted to win the game and I felt like we did. I felt like we defended against their counterattacks well and we kept pushing to get the goal.”
Here are the Union starting lineup and substitutions from Saturday’s game:
Blake (Holt 69’), Fabinho (Gaddis, 59’), Wheeler, Okugo, Williams, Carroll (Quinn, 77’), Edu (Bone, 77’), Nogueira (Fernandes, 40’), Maidana (Daniel, 69’), Pfeffer (Cruz, 46’), McInerney (Le Toux, 77’)
Checkout this video recap from the game on the Union website that includes good comments from John Hackworth, Maurice Edu, and Brian Carroll, as well as some footage from the game.
The Union next face Toronto in the final group game of the Disney tournament on Wednesday at 1 pm. The game will be live streamed on the Union website.
At the Union website, Kevin Kinkead looks at the team’s shift toward playing a 4-3-3. As is often the case when discussing formations in so fluid a game as soccer, it helps to have a less than rigid understanding of what “playing a 4-3-3″ might mean for the Union. Hackworth says in the article, “I think the reason I like to coach from the 4-3-3 is that you get a lot of potential (situations) that are the foundation of your system, regardless of the formation. I think you are going to see us playing with two midfielders one game, and we’re playing with two forwards the next. We are going to tweak that and find what we feel is best for our players and certainly what is best when we are playing opponents.” In other words, the way the Union lineup on paper for a given game, let alone how they actually play in that game, will be reflective of the particular qualities and strengths of the starting players, which itself will be influenced by the tactical strengths and weaknesses of a given opponent (not to mention whether a game is taking place at home or away).
At ESPN, Jeff Carlisle talks to Maurice Edu about his return to MLS. Edu says, “I think a new opportunity and a fresh start is really what I needed…I’ve come here to a club where the manager, the owner, my teammates, they all have a lot of belief in me that I can come in and help this team. So I’m looking to repay all the hard work they put in to get me here.”
Edu makes it clear that he will play in the midfield and not in central defense. “The brought me in to play in the midfield, and that’s where I want to operate.”
Carlisle writes that John Hackworth has discussed how Edu will be used with Jurgen Klinsmann “and that the two are in agreement that Edu’s future — at least in the short term — is in midfield.”
Hackworth says of Edu, “The one thing I really appreciate about Mo’s game is he wants to be in the box and get on the end of things. That is extremely hard for opposing defenses to deal with. One second a guy is winning a ball in the midfield and the next second he’s getting on the end of a service and breaking through on goal. We didn’t have that to the degree we wanted to last year for sure.”
Edu is a guest on the latest ExtraTime Radio podcast.
Edu, Jack McInerney, Danny Cruz, Amobi Okugo, Sheanon Williams, Ray Gaddis, Ethan White, and Aaron Wheeler used their day off on Sunday to go to the Daytona 500. Cruz, Edu, and Okugo each posted photos from the vent.
At MLSsoccer.com, Dave Zeitlin has an article on “one of the biggest surprises in camp,” Richie Marquez.
At the Union website, Andy Jasner has an article with John Hackworth’s comments from Thursday’s press conference on the Union’s progress in the preseason.
Brotherly Game’s series on positional depth continues with a look at wingers.
The Bleacher Report has a pretty pedestrian 2014 season preview slideshow for the Union. (How do we fool advertisers into thinking we have more traffic than we actually do? How about we artificially inflate our click totals by forcing readers to click through a slideshow? Done!)
Matt Driver, the force behind the newly launched American Soccer League, has announced the Philadelphia Fury as the third team in the league. Driver said, “We expect to put a young and competitive team together on the field. We want to embrace the spirit of the league by allowing young American players the chance to showcase their abilities on a national stage.”
In other Disney Pro Classic results, Sporting Kansas City remains undefeated after topping the Fluminese U-23 team 3-0. The New York Red Bulls defeated Montreal, 3-0. Orlando City scored an 87th minute equalizer to draw 1-1 with Toronto.
In the Desert Diamond Cup, Chicago defeated PDL side FC Tucson, 2-0. Bakary Soumare scored the second goal for Chicago, who are undefeated in six preseason matches. Former Reading United man Deshorn Brown scored the lone goal in Colorado’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake. New England was up 2-0 before falling 3-2 to Chivas USA.
Robbie Keane scored two goals and an assist in LA Galaxy’s 3-0 win over new USL PRO side LA Galaxy II.
At the IMG Academy Stadium in Bradenton, Fla., FC Dallas demolished NASL side Fort Lauderdale Strikers, 6-1.
In the opening of the Rose City Invitational Tournament, San Jose defeated tournament organizers Portland, 1-0. Vancouver gave Jamaican National Premier League side Portmore United a 5-1 drubbing, a scoreline that included a second half brace from former Union man Jordan Harvey. Portmore’s goalkeeper was given a red card 15 minutes into the game for handling the ball outside of the box.
With deep pocketed Toronto losing to New England and then drawing with Orlando, Canadian soccer website Red Nation has an article titled, “Start the Ryan Nelsen death watch now.”
- Columbus have signed Costa Rican defender Giancarlo Gonzalez.
- Dallas have acquired Uruguayan forward David Texeira from FC Groningen as a young designated player.
Thierry Henry says with things like traveling across the continental US and playing in summer make MLS a tough league to play in. “People [in Europe] have the view of MLS that it’s an easy league, that you can come here and score goals and it’s going to be easy. I keep on telling them, ‘It’s not that easy.’ You have to perform, you have to show people here that you can play and they’ll give you your respect, but not before that.”
The Professional Soccer Referees Association, the union that represents MLS referees, voted 64-1 to authorize its executive board to call a strike at any time over unfair labor practices from the Professional Referees Organization. Jeff Carlisle writes at ESPN, “Calling a strike due to unfair labor practices, as opposed to economic reasons, is significant, in that it would make it illegal for PRO to hire permanent replacements. If the PSRA members decided to end the strike, PRO would be obligated to hire the referees back immediately. If PRO failed to do so, it would be liable for back pay and benefits.” The two sides are currently negotiating a collective bargaining agreement.
At SB Nation, Jeremiah Oshan looks some of the issues that will be in play when MLS and the Players Union negotiate their new CBA. The current agreement expires this year.
DC Council member and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser says she opposes using city money and land swaps to help fund the proposed DC United stadium at Buzzard Point. “My priority would be making sure that we are meeting a whole lot of capital needs that the city has, including how we’re going to transform middle schools across the city.”
The Orlando Sentinel reports, “A fight over public soccer fields between Orange County and the Orlando City Soccer Club has escalated and threatens to hold up taxpayer subsidies that the new pro team needs to build an $84 million downtown stadium.” At issue is Orlando SC’s desire to get preferential time slots on the public fields for its outreach programs in return for the $3 million it has pledged to pay over 15 years to run the fields.
ProSoccerTalk ranks the prospects of the six leading contenders for the final two MLS franchises.
At the Voice of San Diego, Beau Lynott considers how the Chivas USA news might be an opportunity for San Diego to become the home of an MLS franchise.
Efforts in St. Louis to land a MLS franchise are beginning with interest in bringing in a USL PRO franchise.
At Philly Soccer News, Charles Cuttone talks to USL PRO president Tim Holt about the ongoing success of the MLS-USL PRO partnership.
According to FIFA, the US leads non-Brazilian fans in ticket purchases for the World Cup, with some 125,465 tickets distributed to the US so far. That figure is more than double the numbers for Colombia, the next country on the list, whose total currently stands at 60,231. In all, some 2.3 million World Cup tickets have been allocated so far, with 906,433 going to Brazil. More on the news from US Soccer and The New York Times.
Asked how close he is to having his 2015 World Cup roster together, the qualifiers for which begin at the end of this year, USWNT coach Tom Sermanni unsurprisingly replied, “Not that close, to be honest. To be frank, at times I feel that I get close and then the competition is so intense in this squad that I get close and players keep changing my mind by performing well. It’s a very difficult squad to be close to a starting 11.”
The US U-23 WNT team will be competing in the Six-Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain, which takes place Feb. 24-March 6. With the team is Sellersville’s Jennifer Hoy, who plays for the Chicago Red Stars.
The US U-18 WNT will also be in La Manga for the Ten Nations Tournament, which takes place from March 3-13.
The draw for the qualifying groups for Euro 2016 took place on Sunday. With the field for the 2016 expanded from 16 to 24 teams, ProSoccerTalk writes, “Much of the top talent across Europe was spread thin in the Euro 2016 qualifying draw, leaving fans with few matchups of any excitement early on.”
Michel Platini calls the “triple punishment” of a red card, a penalty kick, and a suspension for a foul in the box “this stupid rule.” What do you know, Platini and I agree on something.
The PackBot robot system, which was designed by the Bedford, Massachusetts-based company iRobot, will be deployed at the 2014 World Cup. The Brazilian government is spending $7.2 million for 30 of the robots, which will be used “to boost security and help examine any suspicious objects.”