Tag Archive | "Carlos Ruiz"

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Carlos Valdes’ stay now permanent, the other Carlos gone

Posted on 05 August 2011 by Breton Bonnette

One here to stay. One gone for good.

The Philadelphia Union haven’t added anybody – although that should come in the next several days – but they made it a point to outright secure the full contract rights of the best loan acquisition made in their short history. Carlos Valdes is now permanently a Zolo. Between Valdes, Faryd Mondragon, former captain Danny Califf, and the emergence of Sheanon Williams, the Union have formed one of the best defensive set-ups in the league after a disappointing expansion year campaign. The long-term capture of Valdes from Independiente Santa Fe ensures some stability for the rest of the season but hopefully it welcomes in several seasons of defensive superiority in Philadelphia.

In other news, Carlos Ruiz has completed his transfer out to Veracruz of the Mexican Liga de Ascenso (Second Division). This obviously hurts the offense but we’ve discussed this all too much. Good riddance and, hopefully, we can find an able-bodied striker to help shore up the attack. Word is a “young, international striker” could be on the way. Also buried in the news was the word that a Union approach of Italian national team and Juventus veteran fullback Fabio Grosso was met with failure.  We’re confident we’ll hear word on new additions over the next several days but regardless, the waiting can be painful.

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Union take sole possession of first in the East with convincing 3-0 win

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Courtesy of MLSSoccer.com

For joint Union and US Women’s National Team fans, there was only one thing that was going to wash the bad taste out of their mouths after that heart-breaking loss in the World Cup final: a Union win. If it was convincing, all the better but three points were hoped for. With Shalrie Joseph suspended for the Revolution, it’s safe to say that three points – World Cup final loss or not – were actually expected.

The Revs came into this game without a win in 8 games and having endured a midweek run-around with Manchester United. The Union, almost completely the opposite. Without a Major League Soccer match until July 29th, the Union were looking to throw everything into this game with an 11 day competitive rest coming up and two friendlies against Everton and Real Madrid scheduled for the coming week. They didn’t disappoint.

Carlos Ruiz, fresh off his re-confirmation that he will not be going anywhere anytime soon, got the Union started off on the right foot in the 12th minute.  His headed through ball started the offensive drive that eventually wound up full circle. Justin Mapp ran on to the pass and hit ball far post to a charging Keon Daniel. The winger, instead of opting for an off balance shot on net, nodded the ball in front of the net, wrong-footing the Revolution’s Matt Reis in the process,  to an onrushing  El Pescadito. The poacher did the rest, putting it home for an early 1-0 lead and his 6th goal of the season. That goal pretty much set the tempo and feel for the rest of the game. The Union dominated, much like their play against San Jose the week prior, but they finished their chances in this one. The Revs looked wounded without their talisman Joseph and their only other real playmaker on paper Benny Feilhaber did nothing but hurt New England in this one. It was his sending off midway through the second half that sealed the loss for New England.

Carlos Valdes poked one home only 10 minutes after Ruiz’s opener, his first of the year, and Sheanon Williams got his first, as well, late in the game as the Union built on their hot streak. Philadelphia will now have a little fun this week facing up against European powerhouses Everton (July 20th) and Real Madrid (July 23rd) before returning to Major League Soccer regular season play after the MLS All-Star break on Friday, July 29th against the defending champs, Colorado, at PPL Park.

For the FULL game story, head to the Revolution ASN site here.

Scoring Summary:

PHI — Carlos Ruiz 6 (Keon Daniel 1, Justin Mapp 2) 12

PHI — Carlos Valdes 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 7, Kyle Nakazawa 3) 24

PHI — Sheanon Williams 1 (Danny Mwanga 3) 93+

New England Revolution — Matt Reis, Kevin Alston, Franco Coria (Darrius Barnes 46), A.J. Soares, Chris Tierney, Sainey Nyassi (Zak Boggs 46), Pat Phelan, Benny Feilhaber, Stephen McCarthy, Kenny Mansally (Zack Schilawski 79), Rajko Lekic.

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Gabriel Farfan, Justin Mapp (Danny Mwanga 63), Brian Carroll, Kyle Nakazawa, Keon Daniel (Stefani Miglioranzi 79), Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Michael Farfan 74).

Misconduct Summary:

NE — Benny Feilhaber (caution; Reckless Foul) 49

NE — Benny Feilhaber (caution; Reckless Foul) 66

NE — Benny Feilhaber (ejection; Second Caution) 66

PHI — Keon Daniel (caution; Dissent) 72

Referee: Chris Penso

Referee’s Assistants: Hector Vergara; Eric Boria

4th Official: Mark Geiger

Attendance: 13,414

Time of Game: 1:51

Weather: Clear-and-85-degrees

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Game #11 Preview: Philadelphia at Toronto FC

Posted on 27 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Toronto FC have started another season in disappointing fashion but the fact remains, they’re serviceable at home. Add that to the fact that the Union are subpar away and Saturday’s match-up should be an interesting one. Carlos Ruiz will look to have maximum impact as he is set to report for international duty with Guatemala right after the game. Toronto, still trying to find an answer for the loss of former talisman Dwayne De Rosario, hopes the impressive Joao Plata can grow into that role.

Philadelphia Union (5-3-2) at Toronto FC (2-4-6)
Saturday, May 28th, 12:30 PM EST, Comcast SportsNet
BMO Field, Toronto, Canada

Philadelphia Projected Starters

———————————–Mondragon——————————————-

Williams————–Califf———————–Valdes———————-Harvey

————————Carroll——————–Nakazawa—————————-

Mapp—————————————————————————M.Farfan

————————-C. Ruiz——————Le Toux——————————

OUT: GK Thorne Holder (concussion); MF Amobi Okugo (L ankle sprain); MF Zach Pfeffer (appendectomy); QUESTIONABLE: MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain)

Toronto FC Projected Starters

————————————–S. Frei————————————————

Eckersley———–D. Williams——————Cann————————-Gargan

————————–Sturgis—————-Yourassowsky————————–

————————————Stevanovic———————————————

Martina——————————————————————————-Plata

————————————-M. Santos———————————————-

OUT: MF Elbekay Bouchiba (R knee surgery recovery); MF Jacob Peterson (L hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: FW Alan Gordon (adductor strain); Gianluca Zavarise (adductor strain); MF Toni Tchani (R hamstring)

Game Notes:

The Reds are coming off a fair result in Colorado, a 0-0 draw. They were scheduled to play the 2nd leg of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship against Vancouver this past Wednesday but poor weather conditions kept it from happening. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Vancouver was leading 1-0 up until the 63rd minute when the game was abandoned. Rules apparently state that the game had to be played in its’ entirety to be official. Bad for the Whitecaps, good for Toronto FC. It has since been rescheduled for July 2nd.

There will be one lingering concern from Toronto FC’s almost loss to Vancouver on Wednesday. BMO Field has been pretty much under water since then and there’s no telling what the field will be like mid-day Saturday. The good news is that the Union have one water-logged game under their belts, a tie with Seattle in the pouring rain. The pursuit of three points ruined in the waning moments.

The Union have only managed one goal on the road so far this season and the Reds average a little over one goal conceded a game at home. At BMO Field, the Reds defense is formidable and the Union, especially with Ruiz in the lineup before reporting for international duty, will have to buck that trend. Toronto, overall, have been shutout five times this season (out of 12 games). Not the prettiest of stats.  

The 2011 offseason was incredibly busy for Toronto FC management and there are very few players remaining with the Reds that played a part in the 2010 season. So far this season, the turnover has yet to pay off but there have been a couple signs of life here and there. Their revelation has been the diminutive Joao Plata, a 5’3″ Ecuadorian attacker taken in the 2011 SuperDraft. A winger for the most part, Plata and former Ajax product Javier Martina have been pretty potent on the wings. Sheanon Williams and Jordan Harvey will have their hands full but they should have enough speed and composure to deal with them.

It was Dwayne De Rosario who sunk the Union last time around at BMO Field. Toronto FC came away with the 2-1 win despite an improved away performance from Philadelphia. The Union paid them back, winning at home on a last gasp Sebastien Le Toux goal in July. Both players who had an impact against the Union last season, DeRo and Chad Barrett (now with LA), have moved on.

The Union are hoping they can pull a DC United in Toronto. Charlie Davies and Chris Pontius came into BMO Field a little over a month ago and led United to a convincing 3-0 win over the Reds. Since then, however, Toronto has rebounded well, going 1-0-2 at home. The defense should be able to keep a big guy like Maicon Santos in check, as they’ve done well all season limiting target men. It’s Joao Plata and Martina that they need to worry about. On the offensive side of things, it’s a small field like in Portland and finding a way to move down the pitch without the aid of ample room on the wings will be tough.

The Union sit tied at the top in the Eastern Conference, now with a game in hand thanks to another New York tie. Toronto lie in 7th place, above Chicago and Sporting Kansas City, with 12 games played to their 10 and 8 respectively.

Tidbits:

The Union front office will take on The River End residents, the Sons of Ben, in the first ever River Cup match-up to be held at PPL Park.

A great in-depth scouting report of Toronto FC from PhiladelphiaUnion.com.

The Union striker corps could have a veteran addition by the week’s end. Vejko Paunovic, a journeyman, should be that addition. He’s older (33), has a pretty impressive resume (Getafe, Atletico Madrid, and Tenerife among others), but hasn’t played in over two years. Depth and knowledge is the main concern here and if he doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, he should do more good than bad.

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ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 10: Ruiz was more than just his golazo

Posted on 25 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The defense continues to rule the day in Major League Soccer but the little offense seen in Week 10 was memorable to say the least. Carlos Ruiz of Philadelphia and Bobby Convey (San Jose) provided two highlight-reel, Goal of the Year candidates as both of their squads rolled to victory. One of them turned it into a Player of the Week performance. Defenders were at the forefront yet again, however, with seven teams posting shutouts. Is it a product of some of the league’s best attackers being sidelined with injury or simply a testament to the improvement of the collective defensive pool of talent in Major League Soccer?

ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 10

GK: Matt Pickens, Colorado

Pickens was kept relatively busy as the Rapids and Toronto FC fought to a 0-0 tie. The Reds tested Pickens on several occasions but it was the Rapids netminder who walked away feeling that Colorado left important points on the table. The Rapids haven’t dominated and Pickens has had to earn the five-game unbeaten streak that the Rapids currently are on. This is his first appearance in the Best XI.

DEF: Jeff Parke, Seattle

It was his defensive performance against Sporting Kansas City that turned heads but he was also the deciding factor on the scoresheet as well. An injury time header from the Pennsylvania native gave the Sounders the full three points and kept Sporting’s skid rolling. The biggest part of a defensive performance that kept Kei Kamara, Omar Bravo, AND Teal Bunbury quiet. It was Parke’s first goal since 2004.

DEF: Sheanon Williams, Philadelphia

Williams was all over PPL Park against Chicago and it was his goal line save that allowed the Union to stay at 1-1 before Carlos Ruiz’s golazo put them ahead for good. The Fire’s Puerari muscled behind Michael Farfan and was free on goal. His shot beat Mondragon but right at a backpedaling Williams. Somehow, Williams was able to get enough of a flick on it to send it wide of the post. His night didn’t start or end there. He was also a big part of the Union offense, flying up and down the right wing.

DEF: Richard Eckersley, Toronto FC

The Reds are slowly getting better and a lot of it has to do with the insertion of Eckersley, on loan from Burnley of the English Championship, into the lineup. He was a consistent presence on the right side for Toronto.  This is his first time making the Best XI.

MID: Dane Richards, New York

The Red Bulls will miss Richards dearly as he is set to leave for national team duty in the 2011 Gold Cup. Aside from his screamer in the first 60 seconds of the match against Houston, Richards was a constant problem for the Dynamo defense. He has matured as a player since Thierry Henry came on board and though his crossing is still subpar, Richards is routinely considered now one of the most dangerous players in Major League Soccer.  

MID: Brad Davis, Houston

Davis is having one of his best season’s for Houston this year. He is the point man for pretty much everything on the pitch and he’s reliable in that position. He converted the penalty to erase Dane Richards’ early score and distributed the whole game. His consistency has for the most part gone unmatched this year and as we close in on the one-third mark, he should be a lock for future Best XI honors. This is his third inclusion in the ASN Best XI.

MID: Dominic Oduro, Chicago

There’s a reason he’s called Birdman. The Fire didn’t use him enough against Philadelphia and, in the Union’s defense, Jordan Harvey did well with him when they tried to. Once the rookie Farfan was put back at leftback, however, Oduro scored the equalizer – using his pace to blow by the rookie and tie up the game.

MID: Khalif Alhassan, Portland

Alhassan loves JELD-WEN and understandably so. His best games have been at home, where the Timbers have built a fortress with five straight wins. Alhassan, once again, showed his technical ability and skill keeping the Crew’s generally solid defense on their toes. It’s relatively surprising that this is only the second time he has been selected in the Best XI (once being named Player of the Week).

MID: Mikael Yourassowsky, Toronto FC

He provided a lot of pep for the Reds on both sides of park. The Belgian registered Toronto’s best attempt on net halfway through the second half, clanging a shot off of the crossbar. His work in the midfield kept Colorado from taking control early on or ever really establishing any sort of dominance. This is his first time making the Best XI.

FWD: Tommy Heinemann, Columbus

He reminds me a little bit of Steven Lenhart, now with the San Jose Earthquakes. Heinemann was absolutely everywhere against the Crew as Columbus fell 1-0 to the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN. It was Heinemann who had the best chances for the Crew and the arguement could be made that he should have put at least one away. His work ethic and determination should get him goals at some point this season.

FWD: Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia *ASN’s PLAYER OF THE WEEK*El Pescadito was much, much more than the left-footed golazo that doused the visiting Chicago Fire. His first touch and ability to hold up the ball was absolutely vital, especially as the Union’s offense continues to find its legs. He had several combination plays with former Fire player Justin Mapp that almost convinced Union fans that the Philadelphia attack was here to stay.

Bench: Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake; Landon Donovan, Los Angeles; Chris Tierney, New England; Shalrie Joseph, New England; Brek Shea, FC Dallas; Mikael Yourassowsky, Toronto FC; George John, FC Dallas; Michael Farfan, Philadelphia; Eric Brunner, Portland

ARCHIVES:

MLS Best XI, Week 9

MLS Best XI, Week 8

MLS Best XI, Week 7

MLS Best XI, Week 6

MLS Best XI, Week 5

MLS Best XI, Week 4

MLS Best XI, Week 3

MLS Best XI, Week 2

MLS Best XI, Week 1

Courtesy of MLSSoccer.com

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The Union outlast Chicago 2-1, bucking winless and scoring trends and reclaiming first

Posted on 21 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Union took down two birds with one stone tonight against the Chicago Fire thanks to veteran goalscorer, El Pescadito. Two goals were scored by the Union in a game for the first time this season and the dreaded three game winless streak is now officially over. Much to the Philadelphia faithful’s delight.

It took a while for the Union heat up, especially after Amobi Okugo was forced to leave the game in just the 5th minute with a high ankle sprain, but they eventually did. The first half produced eight scoring attempts but only one that tested Jon Conway.

The combination play of Carlos Ruiz and Justin Mapp was encouraging to say the least for the future of this attack with Mapp taking the game by the scruff and causing a lot of trouble for his former team’s defense. Michael Farfan, once again, played nothing like a rookie – taking defenders on, rolling through tackles, and not shying away from taking an attempt at goal. Danny Califf and Carlos Valdes kept the lone striker Diego Chaves virtually nonexistent in the first half, winning each and every clearance that came their way and jump-starting the attack in the other direction. Yet the score remained locked at zeros to end the first half and something had to budge in the second if the Union were going to produce.

It was more ups than downs for the Union’s only starting rookie, Michael Farfan but the second half was one wild rollercoaster ride. In the 68th minute, Dominic Oduro tied things up after wrong footing the Union goalscorer and putting a damper on Farfan’s night. Once free, the Ghanaian squeezed a ball by Faryd Mondragon to start the game anew. They dodged another bullet in the 76th with Puerari outmuscling Farfan and putting what looked to be a certain goal on frame. Only a slight deflection from Sheanon Williams could save it from nestling in the back of the net. As the Union continued to press forward, chinks in their defensive armor were exposed and the Fire were close to capitalizing on several occasions. The gamble at home paid off, however. As if to not let the Fire spoil the rookie Farfan’s outing, veteran and the club’s leading goalscorer took matters in to his own hands. Sensing goalkeeper and Philadelphia area native Conway out after a clearance, Ruiz fired an impressive volley – perfectly struck with his left foot – that clanged just off the underside of the crossbar. It was a 74th minute highlight that caught everyone at PPL Park off guard. It was that kind of night, however. One full of surprises.

The Union’s fitness took over after that as they fought to preserve the three points, doing well to close it out.

The win moves the Union to 5-3-2 in the Eastern Conference, good enough for first place all thanks to the Red Bulls 2-2 tie with the Dynamo in Houston. Philadelphia will next head to BMO Field to take on Toronto FC and hopefully improve upon their dreadful away record.

More to come!

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

———————————Mondragon—————————————

Williams————-Califf——————–Valdes——————-Harvey

———————–Okugo——————-Carroll—————————-

M. Farfan——————————————————————–Mapp

————————C. Ruiz—————-Le Toux—————————-

Chicago Fire Starting XI

————————————Conway—————————————-

Ristic——————-Cuesta————-C. Gibbs——————-Segares

————————————Paladini—————————————-

Oduro—————–Bone—————-Husidic———————-Pappa

————————————Chaves—————————————–

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2011 Philadelphia Union Player Salaries

Posted on 09 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

A little late to the party after a busy weekend  and the necessary mourning period that comes with a Union loss – but the MLSPA released the Union’s player salaries for the year. A couple surprises in there…

PHI Agorsor, Christopher F $ 42,000.00 $ 42,000.00

PHI Califf, Daniel D $ 250,000.00 $ 250,000.00

PHI Carroll, Brian M $ 160,000.00 $ 160,000.00

PHI Daniel, Keon M $ 42,000.00 $ 46,410.00

PHI Farfan, Gabriel M $ 42,000.00 $ 42,000.00

PHI Farfan, Michael M $ 42,000.00 $ 79,500.00

PHI Gonzalez, Juan Diego D $ 189,000.00 $ 193,462.50

PHI Harvey, Jordan D $ 61,875.00 $ 63,125.00

PHI Holder, Thorne GK $ 42,000.00 $ 42,000.00

PHI Houapeu, Levi F $ 32,604.00 $ 32,604.00

PHI Le Toux, Sebastian M $ 155,000.00 $ 179,000.00

PHI MacMath, Zac GK $ 80,000.00 $ 125,000.00

PHI Mapp, Justin M $ 175,000.00 $ 183,333.33

PHI McInerney, Jack F $ 71,250.00 $ 135,416.67

PHI Miglioranzi, Stefani M $ 130,000.00 $ 153,125.00

PHI Mondragon, Faryd GK $ 230,000.00 $ 396,666.67

PHI Mwanga, Danny F $ 120,000.00 $ 226,250.00

PHI Nakazawa, Kyle M $ 44,000.00 $ 44,000.00

PHI Okugo, Amobi M $ 85,000.00 $ 168,000.00

PHI Pfeffer, Zach M $ 55,000.00 $ 65,000.00

PHI Richter, Ryan F $ 32,604.00 $ 32,604.00

PHI Ruiz, Carlos F $ 260,004.00 $ 306,670.67

PHI Torres, Roger M $ 105,600.00 $ 108,725.00

PHI Valdes, Carlos D $ 180,000.00 $ 180,000.00

PHI Williams, Sheanon F $ 42,000.00 $ 42,000.00

The clear money drain comes in the form of Juan Diego Gonzalez, a starter for a short stint upon his arrival in 2010. With Califf out for the trip to Portland, Gonzalez seemed to be a relatively logical choice for his replacement but the $189,000 earner didn’t get the nod. Other surprises included the youngster Zach Pfeffer – earner of $55,000 – making more than starter Sheanon Williams, Keon Daniel, and the Farfan twins. Carlos Ruiz and Faryd Mondragon, not surprisingly, are the highest earners on the team in 2011 with Danny Califf a close third. That upgrade of the defense cost a Piotr Nowak pretty penny but we’re pretty sure no one is complaining much.

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Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders: Player Ratings

Posted on 17 April 2011 by stoma

GK Faryd Mondragon (5)- With the weather wreaking havoc on any attempted long ball and generally slowing the pace, the goalkeeper played a much bigger role than usual in initiating the attack.  The preferred Union set was to play back to Mondragon and allow him to either send it deep or lay it off to start the build from the back.  This did not always produce excellent results, as the poor conditions led to several shanks on attempted clearances from Faryd, but nothing that ultimately put the team in too much danger.

Mondragon did not have a particularly shaky game by any means, but he didn’t do anything directly in front of goal that was especially positive, either.  He only had a couple of serious chances in front of him, and neither resulted in saves.   The first ended when Danny Califf somehow got in the way of a point-blank shot from Alvaro Fernandez after Faryd deflected Fredy Montero’s cross to Fernadez’s feet in the 78th minute.  The second ended in the back of the net for the equalizer.  Mondragon did not record any saves, but still provided leadership and stability.

LB Jordan Harvey (7)- Harvey at this point must be recognized as one of the elite man markers in the league right now.  A week after neutralizing Dane Richards, Jordan was tasked with handling the even more dangerous Steve Zakuani with largely no help whatsoever.  Additionally, Jordan still managed to get forward to pair with Keon Daniel for what is becoming a formidable tandem in creating threatening builds down the left flank.

CB Danny Califf (8.5 *ASN PHILLY MAN OF THE MATCH*)- The solid, reliable play from Califf continued against Seattle.  In addition, he was able to make a couple of the more “flashy” plays at the back usually reserved for Valdes.  Most notably, he got in behind Steve Zakuani at the last moment when the goal-scoring threat almost found himself in against Mondragon in the 20th minute.  The unofficial MLS leader in blocked shots continued to add to his total, as well, continuing to show uncanny anticipation and feel for the opponents’ shooting lanes.  Obviously, his signature play of this match came in the 78th minute when, as he saw play flowing to the weak side, he filled the area directly in front of the goal.  This paid off when a deflection found Alvaro Fernandez mere feet from a goal mouth no longer occupied by Faryd Mondragon, who had dived to deflect the cross.  Instead of an equalizing goal, the shot blasted off of Califf’s shoulder and, at the time, appeared to be a game-saver.  Of course, Seattle did eventually equalize, but that does not detract from Danny’s overall performance.

CB Carlos Valdes (7.5)- With the Union dominating possession early and Califf holding down the fort at the back, we got to see Valdes push up a bit and display his ability to play the passing lanes in the midfield.  He single-handedly created a scoring chance in the 28th minute, intercepting a pass that prevented a Seattle counterattack, taking the ball up the right flank himself and then sending a nice-looking cross in that required some quick defensive reactions from Seattle in order to dispose of it.  In addition, Carlos certainly did not shirk his vast defensive responsibilities, keeping things fairly simple in front of him and within his general radius as usual.

RB Sheanon Williams (7)- Again factoring largely in all facets of the game, Williams distinguished himself in a slow, sluggish start to the game by flying up and down his side of the pitch.  With the wind at full force, Sheanon’s signature throw-ins were particularly impressive in that they did not appear to lose any distance even in the face of the gusts.  Williams also played some decent defense, most notably making a saving tackle on Steve Zakuani when he received a cross in the area from Mauro Rosales, although he remains a touch undisciplined when there is a broken play that requires prolonged periods of defensive play.

MID Kyle Nakazawa (6.5)- Back into the active roster and the first XI with Brian Carroll nursing his strained hamstring, Nakazawa looked to make his impact early, just missing on a strike from the left side of the area in the 18th minute.   Most importantly, Kyle drew the foul at the top of the area that directly led to the Union’s only goal in the 32nd minute.  Nakazawa continued to get himself in dangerous positions throughout the remainder of the game.  He still shows a reluctance to shoot when open, instead choosing to defer to the established goal-scoring triumvirate of Ruiz, Le Toux and Mwanga, but this game was definitely a  strive forward for Nakazawa.

MID Amobi Okugo (6.5)- Another strong, if unspectacular, game from Okugo.  Elevated to the starting XI with Carroll out, Amobi continued to show the skills he can bring to the Philadelphia side if given consistent playing time.  He is certainly no defensive liability, but his value is largely tied up in his ability to be the engine in the midfield, the immediate link between the defense and the attack.  Look for Okugo to grow more comfortable holding possession himself and creating immediate opportunities for others as his role continues to grow.

MID Stefani Miglioranzi (5.5)- A bit better performance from Miglioranzi against Seattle as, with Brian Carroll out, he was tasked with fortifying the Union defense from the midfield and did so in the manner to which followers of the club have become accustomed.   Came off for Danny Mwanga in the 59th minute.

MID Keon Daniel (7)- Against the Sounders, Daniel displayed the work rate and field coverage that the Union need from the wing spot.  In addition to leading several productive forays up the flank and toward goal, Keon also showed the speed and stamina to track back and help on defense when Seattle’s wings tried to get forward.  Deft vision allows Daniel to poke into passing lanes and a soft first touch gives him the ability to settle dangerous deflections and regroup.  We’d still like to see Keon go a little more north-south with the ball, but he’s giving the Union much more than they could have expected from Keon at the outset of the season.

FWD Sebastien Le Toux (7.5)- The poor conditions actually seemed to benefit Le Toux, which seems counterintuitive, but makes sense if you think about it. Unlike a pure speedster like Zakuani, Seba has amazing speed and is strong enough to push through the wind and mud, resulting in Le Toux looking like he is still running at his normal pace while everyone else was a step slow.  This allowed Seba to get into space with higher frequency than we’ve seen thus far this season and even get behind the Seattle defense on occasion.   We’re still awaiting the kind of tangible production that Seba unleashed last season, when he was directly involved with an MLS record 71.4% of the team’s goals.  Granted, his 1 assist thus far is still actually good for 25% involvement, but that is actually more depressing than it is a mitigating factor for Seba’s play.

FWD Carlos Ruiz (8)- Was playing an excellent game even before his strike from the free kick opened the scoring in the 32nd minute.  Sensing that offensive opportunities would be at a premium due to the conditions, Ruiz turned on the pressure early, selling out for all balls in his radius in an effort to create chances.  Then, after 4 games’ worth of Le Toux and Nakazawa skying free kick opportunities, the Little Fish was given a chance after Nakazawa drew a foul just outside the box in the 32nd minute.  Ruiz came through with his 2nd goal of the season, a beautifully taken strike that traveled the width of the goal mouth in the air, approximately head high for Seattle keeper Kasey Keller.  Keller got a hand on it, but could not stop the well-paced ball from continuing to the back of the net, and Philadelphia had the lead that would last all the way to the 90th minute.  Ruiz continued to plug away and was able to connect with Le Toux on a couple of legitimate scoring chances that didn’t fully materialize before being taken off for Justin Mapp in the 80th minute.

FWD Danny Mwanga (6)- Came on for Stefani Miglioranzi in the 59th minute in an ultimately unsuccessful push for a 2nd goal that would salt away the match.  However, Danny was productive, especially as a target man up top once Ruiz was brought off in the 80th minute.  He was unable, though, to find himself much space to operate, even when Seattle opened it up to push for their equalizer.

MID Justin Mapp (N/A)– Came on for Carlos Ruiz in the 80th minute in an attempt to close out the win.  Unfortunately, Mapp was not able to maintain much possession and waste the clock away, as was the hope with his inclusion.

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Union 1, Seattle 1: Last gasp Fernandez header spoils Philadelphia rain dance

Posted on 16 April 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The weather conditions, rain and a steady strong wind, kept quite a few away on Saturday afternoon. The River End, however, did not miss a beat – cheering loud, heckling, and acting as if “doop”ing in the rain was what they were born for. And for what it’s worth, it looked like the result on the field was going to reward the 15,000+ (paid attendance) Union supporters for their loyalty. Two shots on goal, one found the net for Seattle, however, and it came at a time when the Union just couldn’t respond.

Kyle Nakazawa took over for Justin Mapp on the right wing and Amobi Okugo, fresh off a fantastic performance  vs. New York, partnered with Migs in the center as Brian Carroll sat out to rehab a strained right hamstring.

The game was sloppy early on as both sides adjusted to the conditions and several tackles gave the Sounders dangerous restarts in the first 15 minutes. Sheanon Williams had a particularly tough time corralling Mauro Rosales while first touches on the offense were lacking. Le Toux, however, showed a little more of last season’s form when he took a long wind battered ball down in stride and carried it down the field, opting intelligently to ping it off a Seattle defender and take a corner kick. The ensuing 17th minute corner kick from Keon Daniel went through the penalty box and fell to clean up man Nakazawa. The midfielder collected it and fired far post only to miss just wide.

He didn’t get it done then but in the 31st minute, Kyle Nakazawa set the opening goal in motion. After receiving the ball on the far side, he faked Seattle bruiser Alonso out and carried inside. Alonso tracked and he took Nakazawa down in a dangerous position prompting a foul and caution from Terry Vaughn. Carlos Ruiz, taking over for the ineffective Le Toux on set pieces, fired over the wall and to Keller’s right. The veteran netminder got his hand on it but couldn’t keep it from finding the side netting, a 32nd minute goal. It was a product of consistent forward play, productive off the ball runs from Ruiz an Le Toux, and better combinations between the midfielders and  forwards.

The Union started the second half as they ended the first – pressing forward and looking to pin Seattle back but very few chances were created on either end. The addition of Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero in the 67th minute posed a true test for the Union defensive line. Philadelphia had trouble with true target strikers last season and to have DP Montero up there next to him didn’t help matters much. The Union held strong and took the opportunity to counter as the influx of Seattle attackers left the Sounder backline at three. It was Seattle that threatened first though. The Sounders tactical switch created their best chance in the 78th minute. A re-crossed ball deflected into the box and sat perfectly for Alvaro Fernandez to pounce on. The Uruguayan DP fired on net but Califf, as he had all game, stood strong and took the shot in the upper body, saving the day. The Union continued to try and counter but the clean sheet wasn’t meant to be and not even Califf could stop it from happening. With time waning, the Sounders pushed everyone up for a 90th minute corner kick. The initial service trickled through the danger area but eventually found its way to Montero. The Seattle DP sent a soft chip in, with everyone still camped in the area. It found the head of the other Sounder DP and substitute Alvaro Fernandez for a last gasp equalizer wiping away the impact of yet another strong defensive showing.

To stay positive, think about last year. In five games, the Union have conceded two goals and sit atop the Eastern Conference. Considering the conditions and Seattle’s last minute tactics, it was increasingly likely to hit the mark. According to Nowak, the Union concentrated on the attack this week and not being afraid to push forward more. There was improvement but that second goal never came. “We can’t be afraid to score that second goal”, Nowak said first in his post game press conference.

Both additions to this week’s starting lineup, Okugo and Nakazawa, played respectably well. Nakazawa acquitted himself on the flank, taking men on and providing a link from the back to the frontline. Okugo was impressive for the second week in the row – winning tackles and using his body well against notoriously physical midfielders like Alonso and Brad Evans. And Carlos Ruiz had his best game in a Union shirt, not just because of his goal (see Sam’s player ratings once posted).

The Union still sit atop the Eastern Conference with ten points and will have a week off this coming week to recover and prepare for a April 30th home clash vs. local product Bobby Convey and the San Jose Earthquakes. The game against Real Salt Lake, originally scheduled for next Saturday, has been rescheduled to September 3rd due to RSL’s participation in the CONCACAF Champions League final.

We’ll have player ratings, photos, and much more over the next couple days.

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

—————————–Mondragon———————————

Williams———Califf——————-Valdes————–Harvey

——————-Miglioranzi———-Okugo————————–

Nakazawa———————————————————Daniel

———————-Le Toux————Ruiz—————————-

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey, Keon Daniel, Stefani Miglioranzi (Danny Mwanga 59), Amobi Okugo, Kyle Nakazawa, Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz (Justin Mapp 80).

Substitutes Not Used: Michael Farfan, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Jack McInerney, Roger Torres, Zac MacMath.

Seattle Sounders Starting XI

———————————Keller————————————-

Riley————-Parke—————-Hurtado————–Gonzalez

——————–B.Evans————-Alonso————————–

Friberg———————————————————–Zakuani

——————–Rosales————–White—————————

Seattle Sounders — Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez (Fredy Montero 66), Erik Friberg (Alvaro Fernandez 77), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Mauro Rosales, O’Brian White(Nate Jaqua 66), Steve Zakuani.

Substitutes Not Used: Patrick Ianni, Roger Levesque, Tyson Wahl, Terry Boss.

Scoring Summary:

PHI — Carlos Ruiz 2 (unassisted) 31

SEA — Alvaro Fernandez 1 (Fredy Montero 1) 90

Misconduct Summary:

SEA — Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Reckless Tackle) 30

PHI — Stefani Miglioranzi (caution; Reckless Tackle) 55

PHI — Amobi Okugo (caution; Reckless Tackle) 65

PHI — Carlos Valdes (caution; Reckless Tackle) 88

Referee: Terry Vaughn

Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey; Matthew Kreitzer

4th Official: John McCloskey

Attendance: 15,149

Time of Game: 1:51

Weather: Rain-and-52-degrees

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Union’s 2011 Home Opener Win in Pictures

Posted on 26 March 2011 by Breton Bonnette

ASN Philly’s LEE PEASE was a witness to the Union’s 1-0 shutout Home Opener win over the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps. Carlos Ruiz scored his first goal/gamewinner for the Union, sending the U to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

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The Union outlast Vancouver, starting first win streak in club history

Posted on 26 March 2011 by Breton Bonnette

A long distance rivalry was born on the Delaware River as the Union beat the Vancouver Whitecaps in a physical, at times reckless encounter. A sell out of 18,591 witnessed the Union and the Whitecaps trade blows in a stalemate that was finally broken by new acquisition Carlos Ruiz in the 77th minute.

The Union were put on their back foot early on as Vancouver pushed forward to attack right out of the gates. The team that might have remained frazzled last year was able to keep shape, collect themselves, and push right back on Vancouver. With Justin Mapp out with injury, however, however, the Union attack didn’t have much of a conductor to spread the field and attack the wings. After the first 15 minutes, when things were cordial, the play became one of which team can be more physically dominant. Eric Hassli, Vancouver’s two goal hero from their debut, kept at it with marker Danny Califf and occasionally sparred with Sheanon Williams. Eventually, his aggression earned a yellow card which would eventually prove crucial and prompted a flurry of reckless challenges on both sides here and there. By the end of the half, three Union players (Califf, Nakazawa, and Mwanga) added cautions of their own and Vancouver’s Nizar Khalfan got in on the party.

The second half started off on the same foot with Vancouver defender Alain Rochat grabbing a yellow card of his own. The Union’s offense was starting to put things together for the most part after a nice run but it still wasn’t threatening much. The whole course of the game, however, changed dramatically after recklessness took over in the 57th minute. Vancouver’s first week hero Hassli hit zero after an errant tackle. The challenge sealed his exit leaving the Whitecaps in a tough spot. Eventual goalscorer Carlos Ruiz ramped up the pressure in the 65th and 66th minute with close-range chances off of corner kicks. One was parried nicely by Vancouver keeper Joe Cannon and the other blocked but it was a sign that the trifecta of Mwanga, Le Toux, and Ruiz were ready to wake up. The attack heated up but never broke through even with a perfectly positioned Le Toux set piece. One that looked exactly like the free kick that broke the 2-2 in 2010’s Home Opener vs. DC United. It wasn’t to be, however.

The breakthrough finally came  in the 76th minute after a deflected shot from Stefani Miglioranzi fell to the feet of LeToux. With only the goalkeeper in front of him, instead of rocketing on net, he laid a pass to a wide open Ruiz who couldn’t miss. After Ruiz opened his account, the Union remained in control the rest of the way distributing wide, testing the resolve of an undermanned Whitecaps side, and polishing off another sloppy win. Carlos Valdes and company continued to shut down any Vancouver advances as the Union fought to consecutive shutouts and a seat atop the Eastern Conference standings.

It was a huge win once again for the Philadelphia defense with Califf and Valdes starring yet again. These two victores are ones that would have escaped the Union the majority of time in 2010.  Even 2010’s captain Califf is aware of that (quotes to come). It’s a confidence brought on by the presence and experience of a Carlos Valdes, Brian Carroll, and Faryd Mondragon. A minimization of the dramatics and defensive miscues that led to easily conceded goals. If it continues and the Union attack starts to gel as all are expecting, this could be a playoff bound team.

Player quotes, photos, and player ratings to come. Keep checking back!

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

—————————-Mondragon—————————

Williams———-Califf————Valdes————-Harvey

——————-Carroll———Miglioranzi——————-

Le Toux————————————————Nakazawa

———————-Mwanga——–Ruiz———————–

Substitutions: Roger Torres, Jack McInerney, Gabriel Farfan

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Agorsor, Michael Farfan, Levi Houapeu, Thorne Holder.

Vancouver Whitecaps Starting XI

—————————-Cannon——————————-

Leathers——–Janicki————Rochat————Wagner

Khalfan———Dunfield———–Koffie————–Teibert

—————–Hassli—————A. Harris——————-

Substitutions: Wes Knight, Camilo Sanvezzo, Long Tan

Substitutes Not Used: Jeb Brovsky, Bilal Duckett, Brian Sylvestre, Kevin Harmse.

Scoring Summary:

PHI – Carlos Ruiz 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 1) 77’

Misconduct Summary:

VAN — Eric Hassli (caution; Reckless Foul) 25

PHI — Kyle Nakazawa (caution; Reckless Foul) 26

PHI — Danny Califf (caution; Dissent) 31

PHI — Danny Mwanga (caution; Reckless Foul) 35

VAN — Nizar Khalfan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 46+

VAN — Alain Rochat (caution; Reckless Tackle) 48

VAN — Eric Hassli (caution; Reckless Foul) 57

VAN — Eric Hassli (ejection; Second Caution) 57

Referee: Yader Reyes

Referee’s Assistants: Craig Lowry; Paul Scott
4th Official:
Chris Penso
Weather:
Clear and 45 degrees
Attendance:
18,591

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