Photo: Paul Rudderow
It was a stunning collapse, one so shocking that even Columbus Crew head coach Greg Berhalter was moved to say,
I feel bad for Philadelphia. They’re a better team than that. I felt that they wilted after that second one. And, you know, visions of last week started coming back on them. And the season in general. I feel bad for them. Like I said, they’re a better team than that.
And the Union are a better team than that. But as Jim Curtin made clear, they are not playoff good:
[T]o get up two goals on your home field and not be able to hold on is inexcusable from everyone, from the top down. Not good enough and to be honest, we’re not a playoff team. It’s clear. Over the course of 32 games now, we’ve come up short. To be eliminated on a night like this you deserve to be when you give up three goals in basically in a six, seven minute span…Didn’t have a killer instinct to kill off the game. We lacked that and we’ve lacked that a lot this year at the end of games. It came back to get us again.
Danny Cruz said, “This is an awful feeling, and something I hope nobody forgets.” He explained, “Honestly, six years in and I haven’t experienced anything like that. Three goals in five minutes is no excuse whether you’re on the road or at home, especially at home, in a game you have to win to make the playoffs. There’s a lot of people in this locker room that would give anything to be in the playoffs. And to make those mistakes, just a lack of awareness, is pretty tough to take. There’s no excuse.”
Cruz said further, “We’re professional athletes. It’s what we live for. We live to win championships, to win games. We don’t take this lightly. I don’t. I feel awful. I feel like we let down the club. I feel like we let down the fans, more importantly.”
Andrew Wenger said, “A multitude of errors, a lack of confidence, a lack of focus from everyone on the field…It was a systematic breakdown.” He added, “I want to say this is sports, but it is not, this is messing up. This is bigger than that, and I hope we never have to go through this again.”
With two games remaining, Union fans will be watching to see how the team finishes out the season. Do they go quietly with heads bowed? Or do they pull together and fight, laying down a marker of hope for 2015? However the games finish out, Curtin made clear that change is on the way.
If you don’t win, if you don’t have success on the field, there’s always going to be changes to teams in the offseason. There’ll be personnel changes, obviously, with any team, but it’s always greater when your team doesn’t make the playoffs and have success. That’s part of the business, it’s part of sports. When you’ve come up short, and we did, it’s a fine line. It’s a fine line between being a team that’s successful and a winner in this league, and being on the outside and looking in, which is where we find ourselves. You can talk about the past, and you can talk about the last four or five games that could’ve gone either way for us but I still believe you are what your record says you are. And this is what we are: not good enough.
Recaps from PSP, Philadelphia Union, Inquirer, Delco Times, CSN Philly (1), CSN Philly (2), Philly Soccer News, Brotherly Game, MLSsoccer.com, Columbus Dispatch, Massive Report, SBI, Goal.com, The Guardian, Vavel, The Sports Quotient, The Sports Network, and The AP.
Brotherly Game looks at game-changing moments in Saturday’s loss.
In ESPN’s power rankings, the Union drop two-spots to No. 12.
In a look at how first-year head coaches have fared, Ive Galarcep writes at Goal.com of Jim Curtin, “A promising start has quickly devolved into a nightmare finish…Now, instead of looking like a lock to keep the head coaching job, Curtin’s future appears to be up in the air.” Galarcep continues,
Still, don’t rule out a Curtin return as head coach. There was a strong belief within the club that Curtin had already been signed on to coach the team in 2015, with Union officials waiting for the right time to make the announcement. If Curtin does keep the job, he and technical director Chris Albright will have a lot of work to do. Signing a forward, replacing Amobi Okugo (who seems a good bet to leave) and figuring out if Maurice Edu will return (his purchase option is an expensive one) are just some of the issues Curtin, or whoever takes over the Union (Jesse Marsch?) will have to address.
Kessler Reports calls the Union “a blight upon the otherwise failing city of Chester.”
Rais Mbolhi recorded a shutout in Algeria’s 2-0 win over Malawi in African Cup of Nations qualification play on Saturday. The teams play again on Wednesday.
Philadelphia Union Academy
The Union Academy U-17s were in Generation adidas Cup play at the Proving Grounds in Conshohocken over the weekend and as was the case for the senior team, it was a tough weekend. On Friday, the team fell 4-2 on penalty kicks after regulation time ended in a scoreless draw. On Sunday, the team lost 2-0 to Toronto. Now fifth out six teams in the East Region, the Union finish this round of play today against sixth place Orlando, with the second series of games resuming in February.
The U-13/14s defeated Prince William Courage 4-2 on Saturday with goals from Vilbert Fortulus, Andrew Taber, and Aziz Saidi after first getting on the scoreboard thanks to an own goal from the visitors. The U15/16s and U-17/18s had the weekend off because of the Generation adidas games.
CONCACAF announced on Thursday that it will be hosting “a top-level conference focusing on development in women’s football on October 25 and 26, 2014, in Philadelphia, coinciding with the semifinals and final of the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship.” CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb said the “Let’s Develop Women’s Football” conference “will be a true celebration of women’s football and will further establish CONCACAF’s commitment to the women’s game by highlighting the success stories of our region and providing our Member Associations with new strategies and ideas.” More from Soccer America and Inside World Football.
In Eastern Conference play, first place DC (55 points) defeated seventh place Houston (39 points) 3-1 on the road, eliminating the Dynamo from playoff contention for the first time since 2010 and only the second time in franchise history. It was also the first time DC has gotten a win in Houston. Second place New England (49 points) clinched a playoff spot with a 2-2 road draw with last place Montreal (26 points). Third place Kansas City (49 points) clinched a playoff spot with a 2-0 win over ninth place Chicago (33 points). New York (47 points) clinched a playoff spot with a 3-1 win over sixth place Toronto (40 points). Fifth place Columbus (46 points) eliminated eighth place Philadelphia (39 points) from playoff contention with a 3-2 come-from-behind win.
In Western Conference play, first place Seattle (60 points) lost 1-0 at home to fifth place Vancouver (46 points) who, with the win, retain the Cascadia Cup. Second place LA (60 points) lost 2-1 on the road to fourth place Dallas (51 points) who, with the win, clinched a playoff spot. Third place Salt Lake (52 points) clinched a playoff spot with a 2-0 win over last place San Jose (29 points). Sixth place Portland (45 points) had the weekend off. Seventh place Colorado (32 points) lost 2-1 on the road to eighth place Chivas USA (30 points).
David Villa scored on his loan debut with Melbourne City.
Landon Donovan almost scored in his send-off game, but the fairytale ending was not to be. Indeed, a late goal from Ecuador resulted in a 1-1 draw in a game that was largely in the control of the US.
Recaps from PSP, US Soccer, CONCACAF, MLSsoccer.com, ASN, ProSoccerTalk, Goal.com, and US Soccer Players, and The AP. Postgame quote sheet here. Photo galleries from the game at US Soccer (1), US Soccer (2), and New Haven Register.
Jurgen Klinsmann announced six additions to the roster ahead of Tuesday’s game against Honduras: Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Matt Besler, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi, and Sean Johnson. Released to return to their clubs are John Brooks, Landon Donovan, Luis Gil, Omar Gonzalez, Brad Guzan, and Joe Gyau. At SI, a look at how the team will refocus ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Honduras in Boca Raton.
Klinsmann said of Donovan, “We wish him only the best and I told him before the game that this door is always open to him. This is his team, this is his cycle. He built this team and he’s done so many things for U.S. soccer, so he deserves the biggest crowds and the cheers and we told him before the game tonight, ‘enjoy it.'”
Donovan said before Friday’s game that the depression was the reason behind his three-month hiatus in 2013.
The Croatian soccer federation has announced that it will play the US in a friendly at Craven Cottage in London on Nov. 12 but, according to US Soccer, while talks are underway, the fixture has not yet been confirmed. The US will play Ireland in Dublin on Nov. 18.
At Risk Science Center, more on the NBC report that suggests a possible link between artificial turf and cancer.
The LA Times looks at the affect the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has had on that country’s Premier League.