Union / Union match reports

Match report: Philadelphia Union 0-2 New York Red Bulls

Alex Muyl and Bradley Wright-Phillips tallied for the Red Bulls as New York defeated Philadelphia Union 2-0 on Sunday in the final regular season match of the season.

Despite the loss, the Union officially clinched their first playoff berth in five seasons, finishing 6th in the Eastern Conference. They will travel to Toronto in a midweek play-in match.

First half

Jim Curtin made a handful of changes to the team that lost to Orlando last Sunday, choosing to rest some regular starters with a midweek playoff game. Eric Ayuk made his first MLS appearance of the season, Ilsinho, Roland Alberg, and Warren Creavalle also all started while Brian Carroll, Tranquillo Barnetta, Chris Pontius, and C.J. Sapong were named to the subs bench.

Maurice Edu was injured in practice on Saturday and was unavailable. Jim Curtin confirmed after the match that midfielder had fractured his fibula when his cleat got caught in the turf during training. The club captain had not played a match all season and was due to start today’s game.

The Union would have a good chance to open the scoring in just the 3rd minute. Fabian Herbers did well to work the ball into the Red Bulls box, and it fell to Roland Alberg near the penalty spot. The midfielder did well to turn and shoot, but his effort skimmed just wide of the left post.

The Red Bulls would take the lead in the 26th minute. Aurelien Collin lofted a ball over the top of the Union defense that Wright-Phillips would latch onto just outside the Union box. It appeared Ken Tribbett tried to play an offside trap but Fabinho kept the striker on. Wright-Phillips chipped the ball over the onrushing Andre Blake and finished into the open net for his 24th goal of the season.

Philadelphia would have a chance to equalize right after the New York goal. Fabian Herbers drove into the Red Bull’s box with the ball, and after a last ditch tackle, the ball fell to Ilsinho on the edge of the area. The Brazilian fired a shot that was redirected onto the New York goal, but Luis Robles was able to save and then clear before Alberg could find the rebound.

New York almost doubled their lead in the 43rd minute. Fabinho slipped inside the Union area and gifted the ball to Alex Muyl, who fired a shot from 10 yards that beat Blake but hit the crossbar and bounced out.

Second half

The Union would have a great chance to draw level in the 46th minute. After a ball floated toward the far post was missed by Eric Ayuk, Roland Alberg found the loose ball and fired a shot off the near post from the right side that somehow stayed out.

The Red Bulls would take a 2-0 lead in the 57th minute through Muyl. Dax McCarty made a run to the endline and backheeled a pass into the path of Sacha Kljestan. Kljestan calmly slid a pass across the six-yard box and Muyl was able to beat Blake low to the left side.

Barnetta and Sapong were introduced for Ilsinho and Fabian Herbers respectively as Philly tried to find a way back into the game. The closest they would come was Ayuk’s stinging shot from 18 yards in the 83rd minute that Robles had to push over the top of his goal.

As the final whistle rang out, a smattering of boos came from the stands as the Union officially clinched a playoff spot for the first time in five seasons.

Philadelphia will travel to 3rd seeded Toronto as the 6th seed on Wednesday (7:30 p.m.). The Union finish the 2016 regular season on 42 points (11-9-14).

Philadelphia Union
Andre Blake, Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, Keegan Rosenberry, Warren Creavalle (Brian Carroll 46′), Alejandro Bedoya, Roland Alberg, Ilsinho (Tranquillo Barnetta 62′), Eric Ayuk, Fabian Herbers (C.J. Sapong 76′)
Unused Subs: John McCarthy, Ray Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Chris Pontius

New York Red Bulls
Luis Robles, Damien Perrinelle, Aurelien Collin, Chris Duvall, Kemar Lawrence, Felipe, Dac McCarty, Alex Muyl (Sal Zizzo 88′), Mike Grella (Omer Demari 62′), Sacha Kljestan, Bradley Wright-Phillips (Gonzalo Veron 69′)
Unused subs: Roland Zubar, Klye Reynish, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Sean Davis

Scoring Summary
NY: Bradley Wright-Phillips (Aurelien Collin) – 26
NY: Alex Muyl – 57′

Disciplinary Summary
PHI: Ilsinho (argument) — 22′
NY: Mike Grella (argument) — 22′
PHI: Warren Creavalle (unsporting behavior) — 45+1′
NY: Damien Perrinelle (unsporting behavior) –54′
PHI: Ken Tribbett (unsporting behavior) — 78′

Philadelphia Union New York Red Bulls
13 Shots 8
5 Shots on Target  4
5 Shots off Target  2
 3 Blocked Shots  2
10 Corner Kicks  6
 27 Crosses  14
2 Offsides  3
11 Fouls 7
 3 Yellow Cards 2
 0 Red Cards  0
 363 Total Passes  392
70% Passing Accuracy  67%
 48.9% Possession  43.4%
40 Duels Won  66
 42% Duels Won % 58%
 13 Tackles Won  20
 2 Saves  5
 18 Clearances  50

136 Comments

  1. They laid another egg.
    .
    And wow, did it stink.

  2. That performance did not make me feel appreciated. More like a sucker for continuing to pay for this crap.

    • Stop. This team is light years better then the previous 3-4 teams/seasons. If you don’t want to pay, ok, I understand, but this is NOTHING like before. We crumbled and folded down the stretch, yes, but this team is on the way up.

      • (Different) Chris says:

        I’ve come to accept this, OMW. I went into this season with low expectations and they were fun to watch until Sept. I love watching them live but this descent is unavoidable. Mission accomplished, hang your hat on 2/3 of a season and hope next season starts and finishes as exciting.

        With that said, I feel for Chris’ “why do I keep paying for this?”

  3. Womp womp womp.

  4. el Pachyderm says:

    Last week indignance this week resignation, a worse feeling even…The worst of all actually.
    .
    Defend away all you want but, He’s not the answer. Of this I am convinced. We can parse little victories and what ifs and nice guys but the collegiate player from ‘Nova is not the answer. No imagination.
    The metric seems to be points and playoffs… no problem, congratulations.
    .
    My metric was quality and to that end
    ZERO improvement arc this season. Regression actually.
    .
    But eh, they made the playoffs, right?
    .
    The franchise talks a good game about youth but I’m circumspect at the moment… you don’t want to play them down the stretch if a ‘tight playoff race’ okay I get it but not today. What harm is there. Cause as I’ll explain below… maybe D Jones at least… helps keep team shape…as
    .
    …. Alberg was acting as a 9 instead of a 10. Then Bedoya playing 8 AND 10 cause he’s compelled to do both in the space vacated by the 10.
    .
    Team unable to even move the ball out of pressure and switch field… let alone

    Tribett just comically bad on BWP goal.
    .
    ZERO offensive philosophy… no discernible plan for months now.
    .
    And the ever effervescent Tommy homering more than Ryan Howard. Strange how this has all become a needle skipping on a record…”put the needle in the record put the needle on the record”
    .
    What a mess. What a mess……

    • Alberg hasn’t played as a midfielder all year. Can’t call yourself a midfielder while giving nothing in possession and not playing any D. Also helps to not play in front of the actual forward most of the game.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        for sure…. at multiple times I saw Alberg, Herbers and Bedoya on a straight line across front. Irritated the hell out of me.

      • This is a microcosm. Albetg was management’s big European offseason signing. He looks like a 9. But the coach plays him as a mid for uncompelling reasons.

        • He looks like a d— feuding with his teammates on the field and generally not showing effort. Hopefully some other team will look at this total number of goals scored and buy him.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Okay.
      .
      Compare the back line 2016 to the back line 2015 and tell me whether the right back is better in 2016 and whether he is younger. That answer is a no brained, and it improves the team’s offensive versatility.
      .
      Tell me the same things for either right center back in 2016 compared to Edu in 2015. That answer will be mixed. But the change in 2016 is not horrible in quality by comparison and is definitely younger.
      .
      Left center back and left back are the same 2016 and 2016.
      .
      Flank back depth is better in 2016, a 2015 starter, as compared to Some one primarily a reserve for the worst team in the west.
      .
      Center back depth in 2016 has plenty of flaws but seems to be learning, and includes a teenager as well as a sometime starter. Center back depth in 2015 could not make one of the worst defenses in the league, and may be gone from MLS.
      .
      Goalkeeper? With respect, I suspect you, like me, are light years away from remembering that this season is Blake’s first full season.
      .
      The 2016 defense has not been stellar aside from Galaxy Blake, but it is younger and is accumulating experience. I would ask that you nuance your complaint to reflect the defense.
      .
      Now, when it comes to central midfield, you concerns with lack of quality are spot on, especially once the game’s of 2016 cease.
      Center mid and defensive center mid are in worse shape even that striker .
      .
      I have been accused recently of wrapping Derrick Jones in bubble wrap, and my counter accusation is that others wish to see him marched up the pyramid steps to be spreadeagled on the Aztec war god”s altar to have his beating heart ripped from his chest with an obsidian sacrificial dagger.
      .
      If you start Jones at central midfield today, what messages do you send to your first team center midfield reserves, and more importantly, what do you do to their values in the marketplace as you try to get rid of them after the season? Do you drive those values down, or do you drive them down even further?
      .
      Like you, I am impatient to see Jones. But you, like me, will have to wait till next February. I’d love to see him out on a short-term loan somewhere over the winter, and Earnie Stewart is likely to have better connections to pull that sort of thing particularly in better European leagues than did/does Chris Albright.
      .
      Now, for all of his flaws, the coach rested key people, and gave chances to some who needed evaluating prior to the decisions about the expansion draft. Tickled to Ayuk get 90. Alberg got more rope with which to hang himself. His ceiling is a lesser version of “el Pescidito,” except that he is always a step slow to the ball, always.
      Ilsinho looked decent, worth keeping. Bedoya flaired out to the flanks a lot, which put tremendous pressure on Creavalle.
      .
      It was the furthest away from his usual lineup that he’/s gotten this season. Should it have happened more frequently, yes. But credit him for the wisdom to realize that a snow ball’s chance on Wednesday required that the old not play a full effort ninety today. [Weds., 7:30 pm, ESPN]. That decision flew in face of all of his instincts. It happens to be correct, however.
      .
      Also, credit him with keeping Yaro away from the practice field as well as the uniformed 18 as he recovers from two concussions suffered close together in time.
      .
      As you know, I think Curtin gets one more year to have a chance to learn from this year’s experiences, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to burnish the organization’s reputation as a good employer.

      • You’ve got to be kidding me. Our playoff chances are better if we play dc, not toronto. Curtain coached scared again and we’ll be lucky if we lose 4-1 on wednesday.

        • Since Toronto beat the Union at Talen on August 20, Toronto has a record of 3-2-4 including 1-2-3 at home. In that same time period, DC is 5-2-3 including 4-0-0 at home. Not sure why you think the chances are better against Toronto than DC.

      • Voice of reason.
        .
        Thank God, there won’t be many for a good long while now.

        • el Pachyderm says:

          Well in defense I am seldom a voice of reason. I am the amygdala of the operation around here.
          .
          Course if a total loss of team identity doesn’t give one pause to at least consider the manager’s culpability well than I’m inclined to think those people are apologists.
          .
          I imagine the truth lies as it always does.. in the middle.

          • EP YOU have nothing to defend my friend, I “get” you. Your clarion calls for “Vision, Plan and Philosophy” are music to this consultant’s ears. The issue of “style” is a matter for a different discussion 😉
            .
            My thing is this: (ignoring the babbling, torch waving rabble as backgound noise) I’ve helped guide several organizations, big and small, through organizational/cultural/philisophical/operational change. (It tends to generate a lot of babbling, torch waving rabble as a matter of course) It does not matter what the product or service is, it does not matter if the org is for profit or non, I can tell you from vast study and professional experience, it is a rare, RARE thing to see what the Union have accomplished as an organization in just over ONE year. A lot of it has to do with the philisophical alignment of Sugarman, Stewart, and Curtin. I’m going to make an educated guess that Curtin is going to be around another year (at least) because he and Earnie are on the same page.
            .
            I would have never expected an organization exiting the mess that was the Sakiewicz era would have, or even COULD have, come this far this fast from a cultural/operational standpoint. Stewart is building a machine that is mean to churn effectively over the long haul. It will not be about a final destination, but true continuous improvement. That’s an exciting place for the few who have the fortitude to get there.
            .
            It wasn’t going to happen in a day, and anyone expecting more than what they got this year, this FIRST year, of an overhaul this significant was unrealistic (to be as kind as I can tolerably be). I understand the first third of the season was exciting (I was excited), but just like no stock goes straight up always and forever, no organization overhauls it’s entire culture, operation, and product (on field talent) without fits, and starts, and hiccups. Lot’s of them.
            .
            They’ve still got a long way to go on player talent, made even longer still by the unplanned losses of Noguiera and now Edu (I think Barnetta was expected). Stewart got one short off-season to “plan” and “do”. He’s had a season to “study”, and now we’ll get to see him “act” on what he observed. The end of cycle 1. I am looking very forward to seeing how cycle 2 develops.
            .
            This was going into full on dissertation before I deleted the vast majority of it. It’s a passionate subject for me. I should have left it at “friend”, but what’s going on here is special stuff. I guess in this “20 second satisfaction” world we live in, most will never see or understand that. Doesn’t change the fact.
            .
            One last thing, I had ’em at 45 points pre-season and reitterated my expectation when things were going better than expected (It’s in the archives). The only surprise for me, and it is a very pleasant one, is that they did make the playoffs. For God’s sake, enjoy it for what it is and hope we get surprised a little more! 😉

          • This is really exceptional thinking and application of knowledge and I am inclined to agree across nearly the entire position you stake. I will certainly well remember this post as a means of finding balance in my POV.
            .
            I’ve been brutal in my criticism of this team for years and staunch in defense of it as well when warranted… I am still completely and totally smarting from the loss of Vincent Noguiera– as he satisfied my french sensibility to play with precision of technique and style. He was very literally the engine that made this entire team function and we all saw it… had a taste of what was to come in the fluid aesthetic manner in which the team played particularly early on this year. A couple knockers but generally signs were pointing way up to philosophy of play matching the vision and plan.
            .
            I stand by my position that a MLS 1.0 CB with minimal to any real coaching experience has the chops to lead this team into the direction of the aesthetic I crave… but maybe I am wrong- as there was a hint. I do not wish ill for the manager. I just am uncertain he’s the guy and have been so for quite awhile.
            .
            I’ve written at length that if it is adrenaline and amperes I crave I’ll watch the Birds… this beautiful game is the parasympathetic for me- the rest and repose… and I get all bunched up when its a frenetic mess.
            .
            I get all Amygdala.
            .
            Stellar post sir. Thank you.

          • Oh, and I forgot my original leading thought which was…DON’T make me start my day by looking up things like “amygdala” again. It’s a bad start. I get angry, I forget why, and then I eat ice cream for breakfast to make the confusion go away.

  5. If you were in a relationship with someone who kept disappointing you and telling you that that they “needed to and would do better”, you ultimately end up looking in the mirror and saying to yourself “no, I need to do better.”

  6. The Oenophile says:

    This was a tale of two seasons — before and after the early summer international break.

  7. The Union were unlikely to win with that lineup but it was the right group to play, giving Carroll, Barnetta, Sapong, and Pontius a breather. Maybe he should have given Fabhino the day off and play Gaddis as well.

    • Your odds are better if u play dc rather than toronto. Curtain played not to win again.

      • So you’d rather run Barnetta, Carroll, CJ, and Pontius a full 90 minutes, just 72 hours before a play-in game so we could face DC instead of Toronto? Disagree with that logic.

      • And who’s to say they would have actually beaten NY with all their starters? Your odds against Toronto are better with a rested lineup rather than a tired line. Not to mention that over the 2nd half of the season DC has been as good, if not better than Toronto.

      • If we’re playing FIFA, Toronto is the scarier team hands down.
        .
        But if we look at current form, Toronto was been really struggling the past month and a half (drawing a lot at home) while DC is the hottest team in the league.

      • i don’t know that this is true. dc is white hot right now

  8. Just Rob f/k/a Rob127 says:

    Wow. Just awful. Why even bother with the playoffs?

  9. For the playoff game:
    – Play Gaddis over Fabinho
    – Start Davies
    – Setup change (long balls over the top to the “lone striker” clearly aren’t working

  10. We Want Wynalda. says:

    The Chorus: We.Want.Wynalda.
    .
    The Melody: shimmy shimmy shimmies.
    .
    The Bridge: Get.Him.
    .
    CODA.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      There’s a reason he is shunned.
      .
      I have no idea what it is.
      .
      Do you?
      .
      A much better candidate is Schmid, if you are determined to start over from scratch after one season of a fresh start.
      .
      That pattern leads to Toronto before Greg Vanney and the new GM with the alphabet soup name, wasn’t it 8 head coaches in 7 seasons. And no playoff appearances, with drastically shrinking attendance from an initial attendance that justified a stadium expansion.
      .
      That’s not an ideal pattern to imitate.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        I recall two things:
        .
        1. A certain promotion and relegation banner being flown above an MLS stadium that he accepted responsibility for.
        .
        2. I also remember him gathering a bunch of latin short order cooks, masons, lanscapers, $6.75, used Mundials, and making some noise against a couple MLS teams in the Lamar Hunt all the while exposing the league as one where many really good players never get a chance because of its flawed policy.
        .
        Are those the things of which you speak?

        • Old Soccer Coach says:

          As I said, I have and had no idea why.
          .
          I rely on you for the pro-rel story. I have made no attempt to learn about Wynalda.
          .
          If he’s a good coach, why has not someone somewhere hired him. Does he want to, or is life taking him a different direction?
          .
          For the record, on pro-rel, on principle I favor free market competition, hence I think a pr-rel circumstance to be “better” that a monopoly. But I doubt it will ever happen here, because the monopoly exists and the federal government seems uninclined to break it. Ownership is big money unless it is a big union, and big money likes monopoly because monopoly preserves the status quo and suppresses competition.
          .
          I just don’t see how the American sports environment will ever break out of its current pattern.

        • He’s feuded with half the owners publicly. That’s got more to do with it than the banner. But he doesn’t help himself diplomatically.

  11. Disgraceful over these past few months. Months!!! And Curtain, could he coach anymore scared than he already is. Ok so Warren had to come out of the game. You go with Carroll over Barnetta? Seriously! A win and you play DC, not Toronto. I used to defend Curtain but he is such a friggin robot at this point I cant stand it anymore.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      How bad was Barnetta as an 8, let alone a 6. Carroll was the 6 on the bench.
      .
      I have to believe the Union knew that they had every chance of the Wednesday game. At best they have a snow ball’s chance away. To preserve that, the old guys had to start on the bench.

      • I dont get it. Its the last game of the season and ur fighting for playoff position. Who cares who is the better 6. Your already down a goal and you need as much offense as possible. Lose 1-0 or 4-0 whats the difference. If u cant play a few guys out of position when ur desperate for a goal you shouldnt be a head coach.

        • el Pachyderm says:

          DECISION DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • The problem Zarr with losing big was losing the playoff spot. As it is with the pathetic lose that the Union had NE made up 5 points on the goal differential, luckily to make it in they needed 13, but you get my point losing big in this game did matter if you want to back in to the playoffs like they wanted.

        • Old Soccer Coach says:

          Your logic puts ten strikers on the field and plays then in a flat line at the opponent’/ 18. , but I am confident that’s not really what you mean.
          .
          You do not outscore the opponent if the opponent scores more easily than you do, of course.
          .
          Only very rarely, and in those cases almost always with a team that has been together for a while and is made up of intelligent veteran soccer players, does the in-game improvisation you advocate find anything resembling success. We all remember one or two with great fondness, precisely because they are exceptional. In general they are the last desperate throw of the dice, like bring in Kershaw to get the last two outs in the bottom of the ninth the next day after he had pitched seven.

      • OSC you are traditionally the voice of reason on this site for sure, but today that voice rings hollow. I tend to agree with you and to not jump ship immediately, but oh defend and defend without ever conceding that maybe Curtin really does screw up and maybe really doesn’t quite know what he’s doing yet. It’s okay, he still gets another year for sure, maybe he gets better. But to act like he is not culpable at all is to be in denial.

        • So…it’s Curtin’s fault that Nogs leaves, Mo doesn’t play 1 game this season, his top pick is essentially injured for over 1/2 the season, he has to start a FA rookie from Drexel at CB, he’s had to play 4 rookies a combined 7,500 minutes, and his striker has scored 7 goals? His starting back 5 is Keegan, Fabi, Tribbett, Marquez, and Carroll/Creavalle. No matter how you line up that defense, no matter how organized, there’s just not anywhere near enough talent.

          • No you missed my point, I might not have been clear. It’s not all Curtins fault at all. Sometimes you gotta play the cards you’re dealt and you don’t have much chance. But, to think that he has no culpability at all is absurd. Regardless of who they have, you simply can not do the exact same thing over and over as the team slowly fades over 2.5 months. Again, not all his fault, but there are significant faults in his managing right now, not the least of which is being overly loyal to certain players and systems and not having a feel in-game many times.

          • Old Soccer Coach says:

            Well clarified. Not saying he is without blame. I do not think it rises to being significantly improved by his departure, yet.
            .
            Picky point. He showed willingness to be formation flexible last year. This year the formation is set in stone by authority higher than his, be it collective authority of the entire technical group or individual authority of the biggest dog on the block.
            .
            I saw Coach Burke wiggle the starting formation a little bit once this year. I have no eyes on the academy sides. They do regularly take off a back with twenty to go when down and add a midfielder or an attacker. But no game changer resides on their bench, and will not because of the business plan’s aversion to aging, high-priced, no longer able to sustain an MLS ninety- minute effort. Profit is the goal, and selling on the added value created while with the organization is the strategy to achieve it. Hence we will never have a Drogba, or a Miroslav Klose for another purely theoretical example,on our bench to win the game in 20 minutes at the end.
            .
            Formation inflexibility is not just on the head coach.

          • Thanks for clarifying. I remember sitting in on a conversation with Earnie Stewart back in July. His exact comment was “if I wanted to play lateral or negative soccer, I could still be out there doing it. We want to have a constant attacking style of play.” Point being, I don’t think that Curtin is allowed a ton of flexibility in formation or style of play. The U high press the outside backs and largely attack from the flanks, no matter the personnel.

          • VDS said this the last time you posted about this. A manager is there to work with what he has regardless of talent he needs to figure out how it works that is his job. If it all was just about talent of the players why even have a manager?

          • Old Soccer Coach says:

            Unless the manager happens to be a carpenter from the Galilee, or the business manager for a caravan merchant’s inheriting wife, or a disillusioned prince sitting under the bodhi tree, miracles are not going to happen! Expecting them is unreasonable.

          • OSC I am not asking for miracles I am saying you work with what you have to get the best out of what you have. And thus the manager is not free of all criticism and responsibility as I feel VDS thinks he should be. Just cause players get injured does not mean your season should be lost that is why a roster consists of more than 11 players.

      • + 1
        I could make a case that this was Curtin’s shrewdest lineup all year – for that very reason.

        • I just dont understand how you keep a 4-2-3-1 with what he started. I dont even know any alternatives is the bad thing. That being said, good thing Curtin rests starters. Granted, probably couldve rested Rosenberry/Fabi and put Gaddis in, but I guess we need to take baby steps. I hope Curtin is not here next year.

  12. Lucky Striker says:

    Almost over now. Last decent player to leave this farce turn out the lights before running away.

  13. I know it’s been awhile guys. I’m sure nobody missed me, and only few may even remember me.
    .
    I’m not going to lie, I barely watched the team this year. Maybe 3 or 4 games. I think the last game I watched was right after they got Bedoya. I didn’t follow the team at all. The few games I watched were all ugly affairs – decided more by how well Blake played than anything else.
    .
    This current playoff format is such a turnoff. Back in July, they already looked locked into a playoff spot. I figured if they were still in the race for the Shield in September, I’d hop on the bandwagon, acknowledge that I was overly pessimistic, praise them for bringing in big name midseason acquisitions when it looked like they had a chance to do something special, and take my lumps like the schlub I thought I was. Oops.
    .
    What happened? No, really, what happened? Like I said, I wasn’t watching. I didn’t expect that I would be monitoring to see if they held on to the playoff spot. Why did adding guys like Bedoya and Davies make the team seemingly way way worse? I guess I have a few questions about things I said before the season, if people would be kind enough to answer them – although I think I know the answers to a few of them based on this thread already…
    .
    1. Did Curtin improve this season? I named him the biggest reason why I didn’t think they’d improve this year because he seemed completely unable to process the game in real time and completely unable to make adjustments. Did he make a sub before the 60th minute that wasn’t forced? Did he actually look like he had a clue?
    .
    2. How was the defense/defensive midfield? The stats seem to indicate that the Union were pretty average defensively in terms of shots allowed and things like that. My big concern here was that the combination of not having an actually decent DM with a seemingly very inexperienced back 4 would lead to a lot of breakdowns. Did we learn to defend a set piece?
    .
    3. Did they ever figure out how to get everybody on offense into positions that made sense? I see that I was dead wrong about Pontius (he both stayed healthy and played well, so I couldn’t have been more wrong), but it looks like Alberg couldn’t get on the field despite being highly productive, while lots of other guys who were less productive saw more time. Did they find more offense than “hoof and chase” and “aimless cross”?
    .
    4. Maybe the most important question – is this season a success? On one hand, I think it’s safe to say they have more talent now than they did before the season, and they have pieces to build for the future. They made the playoffs, and that can’t be taken from them. On the other hand, they finished 11-14 (plus ties), and their point total this year would not have gotten them near the playoffs last year (35 more ties this year than last year, which, like, ties suck, I’m just gonna say it, they make sense in a no-playoff format, but in a playoff format, there’s gotta be a better alternative, such as literally anything else, but that may just be my opinion). They had one more win this year than last year. They finished in typical Union style, they just had slightly more of a lead built up and there were less teams able to take advantage of it. How should I feel? Should I get excited about the team again? Should I even bother with their playoff game(s)? Should the question be “how far does this team need to go in the playoffs for this season to be a success”? I dunno, help me out here.
    .
    Thanks guys. Doop.

    • el Pachyderm says:

      Oh Adam…. I remember you.

      • el Pachyderm says:

        Losing Noguiera was like being a kid with a paralyzed diaphragm after getting kicked with a ball- you fall, go belly up legs-in, fetal position and pray to breath again.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      Sure. I remember. No one is not welcome.
      .
      Key fact. Vince Nogueira returned to France in mid-season. We were asked to respect a private man’s privacy, so the reasons why are unknown.
      .
      With hindsight, the Copa America break divides the season in half.
      .
      To your questions, from my sole, limited point of view.
      .
      The PSP jury is out on Curtin, and no one has any idea what Earnie thinks. The same old arguments come out with the angry frustration of every Not A Win. Two facts. His team got off to an incredible start in the spring, and fans RADICALLY advances their expectations. Few recall their opinions of last February.
      .
      Your instincts about the young defense and the DCM in front of them were sound. Nogueira’s absence turned a fairly solid defensive performance into a leaky one. Probably familiarity around the league helped the leaks quotient to increase.
      .
      Alberg cannot get on the field because he is consistently a step slow to the ball in the second half of the season. He can shoot. And that is all he can do, all. Others do not get past his goals scored number and disagree with me deeply. Positioning seemed to make some sense some of the time. Barnetta is leaving to return to his home club in Switzerland before his knees are totally shot. So next year the offense rebuilds from scratch, basically.
      .
      The success issue depends on whether you drank the kool-aid of being in first place without the chaser that 4 whole points separated first and eighth. Charlie Manuel’s neither too high nor too low does not characterize all Union fans as you know.
      .
      Assuming they do not sell Andre Blake this off season, they have three massive problems going into next season. The worst, say I, is the new number 8. The only in house candidate is Derrick Jones, a home grown player signed in July. He signed as a pro with Steel early last winter. My read is that Kratz is a live body to throw into an emergency breach.
      .
      Th ssecond worst problem is number 6. Old man methuselah has played substantially above expectations, better than in years, but he will turn 36 next summer. Who knows what he thinks about the future. Creavalle also did better than anyone had a reason to expect at times. But. And Edu will be recovering from a broken leg, a new one suffered yesterday just before lunch. [Let the record record that he scored a goal in the scrimmage on the play on which the cleat caught and the leg broke.]. So, number 6 is a major question.
      .
      Finally, striker needs an upgrade. They need Dom Dwyer, or equivalent.

      • I can see why people like Alberg – just looking at his numbers, he looks far more efficient than Sapong. That’s why I wanted to know from somebody who watched. Sapong appears to have regressed greatly.
        .
        It can’t be good that our holes are “literally everything in the middle of the pitch”, right? Maybe that’s why they can’t get points.
        .
        Thanks for the input 🙂

      • They need a left back that can play some defense too. Agreed on the other 3 needs.

      • OSC You say Alberg is slow to the ball do you agree the same for Sapong? Cause if you ask me Sapong is slower to the ball than Alberg. And in my opinion this is the switch that should be made Alberg starting Sapong bench.

        • Sapong can at least hold the ball up under pressure. We all saw how that skill was lacking with Herbers and Alberg playing up front. Poor Herbers was getting beaten up so much by the French Connection that at one point, he looked like he was going to just sit down on the pitch because he was so discouraged.

          • But Alberg and Herbers can both make their own space and take on players one on one which Sapong can not. Its different styles. I will be the first to agree that what the Union want in their formation is closer to Sapongs style, but he can not score and thus is of no use to the offensive capabilities of the team as whole.

        • Old Soccer Coach says:

          No. when Sapong goes after a ball, he explodes towards it and makes contact with both it and the player. Alberg is trying his hardest. I don’t fault his effort, not at all. He just is a step late defensively.
          .
          Now, when an offensive opportunity falls to Alberg, he accelerates his body in a way Sapong does not. Alberg is an excellent shooter. He has those last two “bounds” – not merely steps! – to the ball. Fully agree CJ does not do that, perhaps because he doesn’t sense the opportunity possibly arriving as quickly as the Dutchman? I don’t know why.
          .
          A striker must have both the characteristics discussed. Dwyer demonstrated them very well in the SKC game, in addition to some dirty-ish schoolyard tricks that he did not likely learn in the US. [as the first move of turning his Marking CB, stomp the defenders foot deliberately with your planting pivot foot. Do it only when you are close enough to the box to anticipate getting a decent shot. The defender’s automatic reaction will be to lift his foot in pain rather than make a drop step and you the striker will have at least a half step separation with the ball at your feet. Works especially well on younger less experienced defenders. Name me the MLS ref who will see it as deliberate the first time and call it.]

          • OSC hold up Sapong explodes after the ball and makes contact with both it and player???? Are we talking about the same player who has been on the field missing cross after cross and the ball whizzing by him?? Name the last cross he actually got on the end of in the last 3 months. I believe it was Aug. 13th prob last time he scored.

          • That is some fantastic analysis right there OSC.

  14. Man… this team is like my dog when I was a kid… just put it down, its suffering… We’ll get a new one when we’re older. Cold, but honest. (I’m not even mad about today – I expected it)
    .
    PS – the ref today was the reason MLS will not become a legit league. He was a total joke.
    .
    My geniuine belief is this team will be better (on paper)… come next year. ES will make it so.
    .
    See you all in March!

  15. Also… what a terrible shame about Edu. Wish him the best in the future… wherever it may be.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      It was very sad to see. He was meshing well with Bedoya and Sapong and the other starting attackers. He stretched to score, successfully, on the play when the cleat caught and the leg broke. I thought he might have ripped a groin or a hip flexor, but my eyes were having a bad day. I knew a leg got caught underneath and was worried about a surgical knee, as well.

    • (Different) Chris says:

      2016 was a disaster on many levels. Edu will remember it as such.

    • It was very sad to see him come onto the field yesterday. The look on his face…

  16. What separates this team from the top 3 is a striker who scores goals. Everyone knew Sapong was not likely the answer. Many of us tried to get on board and be hopeful, but the team really did regress to the mean after it ran out of lucky breaks mid season. You can’t win games with a rookie back line when you can’t score goals, that’s it. End of story.

    • The more and more I look back on the season I believe you are correct. Our lack of a guy who can guaranteed bag like 15 goals, absolutely killed us. The loss of Nogs was tough for sure, but to me this is the key problem.

      • Perusing MLS stats, the only players in the league with a better Goals per 90 than Roland Alberg with at least 5 goals scored(.70): BWP (.78), Villa (.72), Ola Kamara (.77), Lampard (.84) and Julio Baptista (.74).

        Sapong has a .25 Goals per 90.

        • And yet people still argue with me that Alberg should be put up top. I get it his defense is lacking he doesn’t have hold up play cause its not his style, but he scores goals.

          • Old Soccer Coach says:

            Chicago had two of those at the beginning of the season. And they won the Supporters’ Shield, or is it the other end of that particular table?
            .
            If you must believe your statistics over your eyes, at least remove the penalty kicks as they reflect nothing from the run of play.
            .
            I appreciate debating these points, incidentally. You challenge me to think, and often you are quite right. The different style point above is spot on, for example.

          • OK lets take away the penalties that puts him at 5 goals 3 assists in 1153 minutes. Sapong 7 goals 2 assists in 2535 minutes. My bet is if you give Alberg 1000 more minutes to get 2 goals he does and thus can be more productive than Sapong was. I think it comes down to style of play I will never see Sapong as a Striker as he has hold up play and nothing else. He can’t turn defenders he can’t make cuts and move into channels, and he can’t beat players one on one. Alberg gets the ball on net, plays at a faster pace (in my opinion), has more movement, takes people one on one and can create passing oportunities.

  17. Anyone have any regret about clamoring for edu back now he is likely out of soccer for good with a second leg break? All season it has been the we know best mentality re his medical situation and I only hope that had nothing to do with him playing before he was ready.

    • I have no regret. I wanted him back. His talent would’ve helped this team and I think it would’ve given them a shot in the arm. Not saying he carries us to MLS Cup but he would’ve been a welcomed addition. Hell… this team could’ve used anything to wake it up. Just a real shame he was injured again.

  18. They looked awful once again this is no playoff team. Those who complain about Alberg I’ll I have to say is he has long been playing out of position the guy in MLS is clearly a second striker not a midfielder. I’ve harped on this all year. And sure does he yell at his teammates from time to time yes, but on this occassion he was damn well right to do it. He was spot on, he was wide open for Herbers to hit the cross in an he had acres of space, Herbers cuts it back and hits it long to Ayuk anyone can see that was the wrong move. I was screaming for him to cross it as soon as he got it not cut it back then cross. Alberg clearly gets hyped up for games and it is both good and bad, as it makes him look like an ass when pissed, but he is actually trying to make the movement of the ball faster and the play quicker this is where I think he excels, but the players around need to go with it. Marquez hoofed the ball upfield all day he needs to learn how to distribute out of the back. While Tribbet was awful on the goal I might argue Marquez looked worse on the night, not defensively, but stifling the offense by long balls. Herbers had more movement than Sapong, but dropped deep to often. To me a switch seemed to be needed between Herbers and Alberg it would’ve helped the flow. But alas our manager doesn’t make in game tactic changes. Ilsinho was slow. Pontius was missed out wide, Ayuk still isn’t ready. The Carroll substitute helped the team immensely, say what you want about his age and his lack of offense, but it is all 1 and 2 touch passing as it should be and he was lightyears above Creavalle in moving the ball. Bedoya was pushing out to the wing so much I thought he was the winger for a period of time (oh wait he is why don’t we just play him there). Oh and last thing of note Edu is a joke broke his fibula in a non-contact drill. Lets move on from the albatross size contract and lets get something of value.

    • Sorry, got to feel for Edu. He’s snake bit. I was there at the practice on Saturday. He broke his leg in a scrimmage. I wouldn’t call it exactly non-contact but anyway. He scored a goal and caught his cleat in a divot in the turf when he landed. Could have happened to anyone. I’m sure others that were there noticed that after Edu was carried off to the lockers, ES showed up. Curtin went over to him and you could tell he was describing to Ernie what happened to Edu. It was obvious that Curtin was pissed. And perhaps also pissed about the condition of the field. Ernie got down and was pulling up the turf in the corner as they talked about it. And did anyone notice near the end of the game last night that a 3 foot long divot got turned up in box near the penalty spot at the river end. Yeah, right where Edu broke his leg. Maybe part of the off season housecleaning should be in grounds keeping staff.

      • I agree with you on most of that, Jack (including being there Saturday). However, it was not the same divot. The goals were out at the end of the penalty area Saturday so the divot from Sunday would have been behind the goal Saturday.

        • Old Soccer Coach says:

          I saw it live, too, and located the accident as does Andy M.
          .
          I was glad Bedoya gave him the armband for the photo.
          .
          I broke a fibula two winters ago slipping on ice with one foot while the plant foot held on the other. Edu’s is clearly worse than mine was, but it should heal and my guess would be he plays. My medical degree is from that well known ancient bastion of medical knowledge, Hard Knocks U.

          • I know it was in a different spot, I was being a little sarcastic about he big divot. I did mention to the guy next to me on Sun night that that divot is where they could bury Edu’s career.

      • Was the practice on the stadium field? The River End quesrter of the field was re-turfed a few weeks ago after some goofy concert stage ruined it. Exactly what Stewart was advocating against earlier in the season.
        .
        If so, I can understand why Stewart was there after the injury and can only guess how pissed he would have been if new, unsettled turf was the cause of an injury like that.
        .
        I also saw the crazy divots Sunday and attributed it to the new turf in that area. The big stadium field does not tear up like that under normal circumstances.
        .
        Will be interetsing to see if some of our media friends pursue this with Stewart in the next week or so.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      To Dr Union:
      .
      Edu was a contributor to this team when healthy. Was he worth the massive contract, no… but to me he was the first real DP we had, and it showed some commitment, by the then – very inept FO – that they could spend some money. He is no longer healthy, and will obviously be gone after the season. Edu is the least of this teams problems.
      .
      I agree with your Carroll assessment, and I would bring him back as a depth guy next year. Which is what I think they thought he would be this season, but never played out that way due to injuries.

      • OMW I agree Edu is the least of the worries right now, but people act like he would’ve been a savior to this team in the midfield. And sorry I don’t see it and we don’t know how he would’ve played in the middle of the pitch. My fear is that even if his contract is up they resign him which I think is the wrong move. This team should’ve been taking a look at the CDM midfield depth the last 2 years the fact that they have not found a viable replacement in my opinion has been pretty bad news. I see this offseason going from bad to worse in my opinion. Union will need a ST, two CDM starters, LB, and possibly GK, backup CB, LM if they don’t resign Pontius. With both Barnetta and Nogs gone the midfield needs an overhaul.

        • WE dont know how he wouled have played? You mean a good carrer in Europe and with the NT as a 6 wasn’t enough for you?

          • james how long ago was that. 2012 and before that he was a viable option in midfield. Its 4 years later sorry, but no it is not enough for me. Last time I saw him in the midfield he was not quick on the ball, his touch was off, and he did not connect with the players around him. I see his strength at CB now, but he doesn’t accept this. So, no after no meaningful minutes in CDM in 4 years I do not know how he would have played.

  19. Tough way for us fans to likely see the last home match end like that. It appears like we’ve gone back to old Philly Union soccer where we just go down the side and cross it into the box where we only have 1 guy as opposed to trying to play through the center in the final third with through balls. Bad break for Mo but somehow I’m not even surprised something happened again. I believe he’s under contract through 2017 and since his salary is high I’m not optimistic that he’ll get picked by Atlanta or Minny or that we can trade him for anything. It’s a shame we didn’t dabble with a different formation as we struggled over the final 8 weeks of the season. On the first goal I noticed that people were all over Tribbett but I believe that Fabinho kept BWP onside which lead to the 1 vs 1 situation. I don’t know how we pull off a victory on Wednesday night. Hopefully we attack Toronto from the beginning like we did the last time we played there and can snatch an early goal. Just give us some hope in the last 20 minutes is all I’m asking for.

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I thought Edu’s deal was up after this season, but I could be wrong

      • Darth Harvey says:

        According to transfermarkt.com his contract is mercifully up at the end of the year.

        http://www.transfermarkt.com/maurice-edu/profil/spieler/50987

        • Interesting. It all seems like a mystery. If the contract situation is true, do you try to bring him back at a much lower salary?

          • Why not?If you don’t have better, bring him back at half price or less. I doubt teams will be in a bidding war for his services.

          • Pete at this point with a broken fibula is it worth bringing him back. I can’t see him being ready for the start of the season, based on previous recovery time. I think to give him a contract at this point even at half $350,000-$400,000 is a waste of money in your salary cap.

          • It might be Dr. All I’m saying is I’m not opposed to bringing Edu back. depends on what the cost is, how ready he is to contribute and what the other available options are. I do think this team, assuming it keeps Pontius and Davies around, has enough of a veteran presence as is. No harm looking for younger (and cheaper) options.

          • OneManWolfpack says:

            I am not opposed to bringing him back either, but you have to know he won’t play until the summer at least. Even for half his salary, I think it’s a huge risk, given your obvious other needs. I have to say, I’m ok if they bring him back for nothing, but I am actually probably more ok, if he walks.

  20. I have to agree with the Dr. about Bedoya. Any thought that he’s going to be the #10 is wishful at best. This team has no elite striker, and is about to lose its near-elite #10. And doesn’t seem like any of the academy or Steel attacking players are anywhere near joining the first team and contributing. Forget acquiring Aron Johannsson – his transfer fee was 5 million supposedly. Not sure this is a successful season if Union loses 4-0 or 4-1 to Toronto and we’re missing more pieces (#6, #8, #10, striker, right winger, left back) than we were last off-season! I’m equal parts anticipating the game Wednesday and fearing for Tribbett’s ankles…

    • OneManWolfpack says:

      I just feel like this team is incomplete. I mean, that may be obvious, but to me – it’s kind of like the Eagles and Flyers. They have some talent, but the full picture of how the team should look is not yet complete. This team will be better in the offseason. ES is smart, and knows what it needed. Losing Blake (assuming he is sold, which he prolly will be), will be tough, but if you really do sure up your defense, the goalie won’t have to bail you out as much. And finding a proven goal scorer to add 10+ goals from the striker position is vital.
      .
      Wednesday doesn’t matter. Win or lose. This team can, and I think will be, a top 3 team in the East next year.

      • Agree. It really shouldn’t be this hard. People talk like we need to craft a team that can compete against Arsenal, when all we need to do is be reliably better than DC, Orlando and NYC. Add a striker and ID a replacement for Barnetta and possibly Mo. There are plenty of pieces to employ to fill out the rest of the XI. Let’s not assume Blake is sold before he really is. Fabinho is fine. Replacing him should be near the bottom of team priorities.

        • Fabinho is not fine as he is 32 next season and we need a viable option in that position. Taylor Washington by all accounts is not ready to be an MLS starter. How long do you think Fabinho legs will last to fly up the wing? Take away Fabinho offensive ability to make those runs up the wing do you still think he is fine? It along with other positions is one of need. To compete in MLS multiple things need to happen with this team. The team came in 6th not first this means we are mid tier in the lower conference its not good enough.

          • How about one more year? But sure, I agree this team is mediocre. But let’s not forget that the competition is mediocre as well. All I’m saying, is that I think being competitive in this league is not as difficult as we make it out to be. And also that I want scoring to be a priority. It wasn’t last season and that’s why this team couldn’t put together a winning season.

          • OneManWolfpack says:

            Fabinho’s spot has to be upgraded. He’s a coin flip every game… what will you get? Barnetta’s replacement is a must. A true striker is a must. And I assume a goalkeeper, if you don’t stay in house. ES has plenty of money to spend. If these are addressed they are top 3 in the East next season.
            .
            I am also ok with an upgrade at manager, if it happens.

          • Fabi will likely be the start LB, but I don’t see Gaddis being here as a back up I think it is likely he is gone in the expansion draft, thus we will have no backup at either fullback spot and that worries me 32 year old fullback and a rb just in his second season.

  21. Sam Allardyce
    .
    He needs a new start, we need a manager with pedigree.

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      BC is 36 next June.
      .
      He has improved considerably as an offensive distributor, a point the technical staff’s credit, incidentally.
      .
      We have no idea what he will think about the future once the season is over. Last year he was a free agent but I got the impression he made it clear he was only interested in the Union.
      .
      I would love to see the knowledge of playing DCM that is in his brain made available closely and repeatedly to 17 year old Josue Monge and the other DCMs in the Academy.

  22. Alright I’m gonna throw this out there and may get strung up for it, but lets see. There is talk of Blake being sold assuming he is who would be willing to bring back MacMath? …….. I would he was having a great year at Colorado clearly wants out, wants first team minutes, and I think he is clearly better than McCarthy which would be their only goalkeeper on the roster at that time I believe. This is assuming he would be willing to come back to Philly. He is also still younger than Blake.

    • I agree 100% about MacMath if Blake is gone…of course, he has to want to come back here too (maybe more likely without Sak).

    • Colorado’s defense is slightly and by slightly I mean light years better than the Union defense. He wasn’t facing many shots per game the first half of the season before Tim Howard got there.

      • I’m not saying that their defense isn’t better, but he is a proven MLS Keeper. Even with all the turmoil here at the Union that MacMath went through he had a better GAA than Blake did.

      • By that logic, Tim Howard isn’t playing that well, he’s just behind a good defense.

        Remember, part of good goalkeeping is also organizing your defense.

    • I’d be fine with that. I felt like that MacMath was starting to come into his own here when Sak decided to start collecting keepers. Plus, MacMath is good with this feet.

      • OneManWolfpack says:

        I am also fine with MacMath coming back. I think he would be an upgrade compared to what we have (not counting Blake of course)

        • I have no problem seeing Andre Blake moved for ca$h…and I also like bringing back M Jones as the starting keeper.
          .
          He would be fine at the position. Likely better with the ball at his feet anyway… which for me is actually more important than shot stopping ability.

          • El P I could see bringing back Matt Jones, but based on his lack of game play I find it difficult that he will want to come back without guaranteed starts. I do not want to see McCarthy being the starting goalie though. He to me should be the starter at Steel.

    • got nothing against this. however, i don’t think we’re getting him back. plenty of need for a proven MLS keeper. two teams coming into MLS next season. unless Atlanta or Minnesota have someone else in mind, getting someone with his pedigree is a bonus. would there be a bidding war over McMath? i dunno, but i do know i wouldn’t over-pay for him.

      • Chris agreed no need to overpay. My worry is getting rid of Blake late with no backup plan. As I don’t think European teams want to pull the trigger to soon especially in the Jan. window.

  23. On balance who can honestly say that 2016 was not a major improvement for this organization across the board? Rosenberry alone! Pontius, Carroll, Herbers and even Fabinho? C’mon, man!
    If Ilsinho will train, his upside – with targets who score – is great. The first full off season for our SD should be fascinating. Agreed that major spine surgery (#6, 8, 10 + striker) is in order – and the top priority. Good MLS LBs are scarce as . . . a Curtin first sub before the 75th minute or not Isinho for Herbers.
    Curtin has not fielded the lineup or played the faster style that Big Ern wants – mainly I think because it didn’t fit the personnel. Hence Charlie Davies. If they can get value for him, Sapong is gone. Blake returns to maximize his net transfer fee in 17.
    The backline will be another year together next year.
    My hunch says Earnie tells Curtin how he wants to play, dictating how the team trains and that anything less than doing it plus the same level of accomplishment (playoffs) without catastrophic injury will spell, well, you know “curtins.” I can’t wait!

    • Um….they played Earnie’s style this year. We heard it again and again in interviews the roles of players were dictated by the SD and they are not going to change how they play. Players must fit in to the mold of this structure. I don’t get what you think we didn’t see?

  24. What a wonderfully passionate site. Delusional with a gossamer of logic. Always a fun read. The best soccer site in the USA. This team is SOOO fundamentaly poor, unathletic and limited, so that a wholesale restructuring is inevitable. How funny that people think Ilsinho can be part of a winning team. He must be gone. The new kids are wonderful plus Pontius, Blake, Bedoya can stay. The best player is leaving to go back home to europe. Why are the good ones leaving? Alberg must be removed as soon as possible. He is a cancer. Major restructuring due. This is a multiyear project, , maybe like the Cubs?

    • Barnetta’s body language and vocal protests tell me he’s sick of the WWF style of play tolerated by The Don & his officiating crews; and is unwilling to risk a career-altering injury. He is a marked man out there. Who can bkame him?

    • I don’t understand the hate of Alberg, the guy is passionate wants the ball wants to score wants to help the team. Yes he can be hotheaded and yes he wants to push the tempo and push players, but I don’t see this as a bad thing.

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