Tag Archive | "Danny Mwanga"

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Game #20 Preview: Defending champs come to town

Posted on 29 July 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Colorado Rapids (7-6-10) vs. Philadelphia Union (8-4-7)
Friday, July 29, 2011, 7:30PM, Fox Soccer Channel
Chester, PA, PPL Park

Last year's match-up produced frustrations galore

Less than 24 hours after Bob Bradley was fired as US Men’s National Team coach and Union gaffer Piotr Nowak is already being thrown into the ring as one of the long-shot, MLS contenders for the top job. Let’s put that aside (especially considering there’s almost no chance it’ll happen) as the defending champions, Colorado, are coming to town tonight and the Union are looking to pick up where they left off before the “international friendly” break. After two spirited showings against Everton and Real Madrid – and more importantly no injuries – the Union will return to MLS competitive play with a strong and healthy squad. Compare that to the Rapids, who visit PPL Park without big man Conor Casey (ACL tear) and the possibility of several others.

Game Notes:

The Rapids have still put the ball in the net the last couple games, even without their best striker. Winger turned striker Sanna Nyassi flew through a flat-footed Red Bulls defense not once but three times to help Colorado to a decisive 4-1 win. Their last game, however, was a back and forth affair against New England, a 2-2 tie. Along with a surprise in Nyassi, the Rapids have two proven goalscorers in MLS All-Star Omar Cummings and former Hull City target striker Caleb Folan. You can expect them to start up front with Nyassi back at his original position on the flank.

The Union will be looking to extend a five game unbeaten streak and their last MLS regular season match was a 3-0 win up in New England that saw two new first-time scorers take centerstage. Carlos Valdes and Sheanon Williams scored their first and earned themselves an active but relatively relaxed week of international friendlies. Valdes and Williams didn’t look their sharpest against Real Madrid but we’re pretty certain that shouldn’t carry over into tonight. Valdes is also one more yellow card away from a one-game suspension but don’t expect that to make him any more cautious.

Believe it or not, Carlos Ruiz has scored in three of the last four regular season games. The Rapids have conceded 30 goals this season so one should expect that he’ll at least get his chances tonight as well. Ruiz has his haters and certainly has his flaws but if – at a little over the halfway point of the season – you were told Ruiz would produce at this rate, you’d take it no questions asked.

Both Carlos Ruiz and Danny Mwanga have an impressive history against the defending champs. Ruiz, the vet, has eight goals in 18 games against Colorado while Mwanga is batting 1.000, scoring 2 in 2 appearances. Le Toux has supplied the magic with 3 assists in five games. FC Delco product Jeff Larentowicz is having a huge season for the Rapids, netting four goals from the holding midfield position. A handful on the restarts and in possession of an impressive long shot, Larentowicz should play a role in whether or not the Rapids can get one by Faryd Mondragon.

INJURY REPORT: PHILADELPHIA UNION—QUESTIONABLE: FW Levi Houapeu (L ankle strain); PROBABLE: FW Veljko Paunovic (L hip strain) … COLORADO RAPIDS—OUT: FW Conor Casey (L achilles tear); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); MF Brian Mullan (lower back spasms); DF Anthony Wallace (R quad strain); FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); MF Jamie Smith (R hamstring strain); FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear)

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Mwanga grabs important first goal in scrappy Union tie

Posted on 12 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Like in 2010, will his equalizer be the first of many in 2011?

Two years ago from yesterday, the Union formally came in to being. Full house, beautiful night, an absence of any David Beckham hubbub. What better way to celebrate your naming “anniversary” than with a last-gasp equalizer to grab a point against one of the best teams in Major League Soccer?

Head coach for day John Hackworth can think of many. He wanted the win.

The Union were unhappy not to get the full three points, especially amidst a packed house spurring them on as McInerney, Mwanga, Ruiz, and Le Toux grabbed the equalizer and had 10 minutes to find more.

Regardless, it’s a new team attitude in 2011 as they showed resolve after going down early. It was undoubtedly a shaky start for the Union, tested early by the fast paced and fluid Los Angeles attack led by Landon Donovan. It was hard to tell who was the home squad as the Galaxy committed men forward, took chances, and forced the Union defense to scramble. It paid off. In the 24th minute, Juan Pablo Angel’s run into the box was halted as he overstepped the ball. Califf bit and an open opportunity, shielded by Angel, allowed Donovan to step right up to squeeze a shot right past Mondragon’s left. Apparently, a defecit was all the Union needed to step things up. From the 24th minute on, it’s fair to say the Union were the better team.

Bruce Arena would disagree but for Philadelphia, the passes started to string together, Carlos Ruiz and Le Toux started to find the ball more, and chances began to materialize. Sheanon Williams’ forays into the attack were productive, one leading to a near post opportunity for Ruiz in the 34th minute. Both backs, for that matter, were competent in juggling their offensive and defensive duties – a key to the Union staying relevant on attack.

The insertion of Danny Mwanga into the match at the outset of the second half made clear to all of Hackworth’s intentions for the final 45 minutes. Mwanga was instructed to sit in between the Galaxy’s midfield and defensive line and exploit that space. Early on, however, that space wasn’t there. As the half wore on, it was evident he was getting more and more time on the ball. The Galaxy defense held strong, however, with Omar Gonzalez limiting Le Toux’s inclusion and stifling any sort of meaningful involvement of Carlos Ruiz. Once the element of urgency entered into the equation, Mwanga started to find space and allowed him to pressure more, a key to the Galaxy’s costly mistake. It was a scrappy goal but the continued pressure of the Union attack led Sean Franklin to drop an errant backpass that was easily intercepted by Mwanga in the 84th minute. He rounded a sprawling Ricketts and slotted a tight angle shot past AJ DeLaGarza to tie the game up. After that, the young striker played like a man possessed, almost registering a game-winning assist in injury time. Once again beating Franklin, this time on a 30 yard touchline run, he delivered a dangerous cross in to Jack McInerney at the back post. McInerney leapt but couldn’t nod it home.  

The Union were unlucky to get another in the last ten minutes but it should be noted, during that same time, the Union defense thwarted any meaningful Galaxy counter. Faryd Mondragon expertly played his part when he was called upon. A commitment to attack meant Donovan and company had space to manuever if possession was lost. Mondragon’s biggest save came on a 64th minute one-on-one stop of midfielder Chris Birchall after he was put through on net. Unfortunately, on a goal kick later in the half, Mondragon seemed to strain something painful enough for him to ask for a substitution. It is still uncertain how that will affect his availability for Saturday’s game in Frisco.

With the tie, the Union registered their first point against the Galaxy and move to 4-2-2, good for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference.  The Union will have a tough turnaround and a big test against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park this Saturday.

Philadelphia Starting XI

———————-Mondragon————————-

Williams——-Califf———-Valdes———-Harvey

————————-Carroll—————————-

Mapp—————Nakazawa——————–Daniel

——————Ruiz———Le Toux——————–

Los Angeles Starting XI

————————–Ricketts—————————

Franklin——Gonzalez——-DeLaGarza—-Dunivant

Birchall——Juninho——-Donovan———Stephens

——————Angel———-Lopez———————

Scoring Summary:
LA — Landon Donovan 5 (unassisted) 24
PHI — Danny Mwanga 1 (unassisted) 83

Misconduct Summary:
LA — Chris Birchall (caution; Reckless Foul) 30
PHI — Brian Carroll (caution; Shirt Removal) 58
PHI — Roger Torres (caution; Reckless Tackle) 76
LA — Omar Gonzalez (caution; Delaying a Restart) 78
PHI — Danny Mwanga (caution; Shirt Removal) 83
LA — A.J. DeLaGarza (caution; Reckless Foul) 87
PHI — Sheanon Williams (caution; Reckless Foul) 92+

Lineups:
LA Galaxy —
Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant, Chris Birchall, Landon Donovan, Juninho, Michael Stephens (Hector Jimenez 89), Juan Pablo Angel (Chad Barrett 89), Miguel Lopez (Jovan Kirovski 82).
Substitutes Not Used: Gregg Berhalter, Paolo Cardozo, Frankie Hejduk, Josh Saunders.

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey (Jack McInerney 80), Brian Carroll, Kyle Nakazawa (Roger Torres 66), Keon Daniel (Danny Mwanga 46), Justin Mapp, Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz.
Substitutes Not Used: Gabriel Farfan, Michael Farfan, Amobi Okugo, Zac MacMath.

Referee: Andrew Chapin
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey; Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: Sunny and 73 degrees
Attendance: 19,178

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Victory over New York stirs Frenzy and Foreboding

Posted on 11 April 2011 by Breton Bonnette

A second post from new ASN Philly contributor Matt Acciani. Let him know what you think in the Comments section below.

The Celebration, Contributed by ASN Philly's Lee Pease

Let me start with a disclaimer: I am no chicken little. I have no wish to create a perception of watching a clear sky then screaming that the heavens are crashing down. Saturday night was phenomenal and there is little to match the rush of beating a favored New York team, but once the high subsided the crash was a bit harder for me than I would like. I would like to classify myself a pragmatist. Staying honest with myself, I feel as though this match was not won by the Union so much as it was lost by Tim Ream (thanks, by the way!). A dearth of true scoring chances left the coach in me wrestling with the fan. One part of me is ready to charge through the streets, while another is preaching caution. The season is young, and Philly fans know heartbreak too well.

If I’m Piotr Nowak, here are my positive takeaways:

  • Mwanga and Torres are super-subs.*
    • *Mwanga seems, on this team, at this point in time, to be best suited coming off the bench. He thrived in a similar role at the beginning of last season. Coming in against a tired defense that has been tormented by Ruiz and Seba should bring a number of opportunities. The operative word is SHOULD. Torres also seems best suited to his current role. I would love to see his spark on the field over the course of a full game, but I think there are two things holding him back – his physical strength and that he avoids his right foot like many American kids avoid vegetables. He actually might like his right foot even less than that. If he can improve I think he will be one of the top midfielders in the league.
  • Okugo showed he is more than capable in the center of the park.
  • Four games in, the team has more shutouts than through the entire inaugural season.

Here are my concerns: 

  • There is still no connection between the defense and the attack, which means there is little to no possession over the course of a game.*
    • *The asterisk here is that the last ten minutes of the game, in which the Union actually held the ball well, are not indicative of the game’s efforts. It’s far more difficult to maintain possession against a team at 0-0 or down a goal than it is against a team that is desperately chasing a game they had controlled.
  • The commitment to defend is great from the players, but the concern for defense may be preventing the offense from developing.
  • The strikers are not operating as a unit, and typically find themselves isolated when possession is finally created.

When Adrian Healey compares the Union to Stoke City, Philly fans should grimace. Stoke is a solid mid-table team that is capable of competing with any team in the Premiership on any given day, mainly through a grinding physical defense and attacking through long balls, but is not a team that is capable of maintaining excellence over the course of a full campaign. For the Union, three wins in four games is phenomenal, but four games do not a season make.

The 4-4-2 obviously worked better Saturday than it has been, largely due to the fact that Mapp and Daniel actually manned the flanks. I still stand by my assertion last week that the 4-5-1 is the best lineup for this team.

Over the course of the game there was very little movement off the ball. As the ball moved up the field and past players, the Union men were generally content to watch and hold defensively. This typically left Ruiz and Seba to try and work through the Red Bull defense with support from only one to two midfielders. Hence the inability to maintain any real possession. A standard 4-4-2 requires the outside mids to shuttle forward and back throughout the game, thereby leaving the flanks open to counters. A 4-5-1 provides added midfield cover by encouraging the attack to build gradually by playing up to a forward, having them release the ball to a midfielder, then playing an overlapping runner, allowing the team to drive forward together in numbers. Ideally (see Spain’s national team, or Barcelona) a 4-5-1 turns into seven or eight men attacking. The width comes from the outside backs and the extra holding midfielder provides additional cover for the defense.

Compliments of Roger Torres, Contributed by ASN Philly's Lee Pease

Since the Union are so committed to defending as a unit, I see this as the only true option to play with any type of sustained attack while still, if implemented correctly, providing the necessary defensive strength to maintain what the Union have developed so well so far. This also addresses the issue that the defense is unable to connect well with the attackers. I am unwilling to believe the lack of control in the midfield is due to a lack of talent. Instead, too much responsibility is being placed on the center mids. While Okugo acquitted himself well, in my eyes he is a step up from Miglioranzi but not the attacking answer needed. Coupling him with Carroll behind Le Toux would, in my mind, create a devastatingly effective midfield adept at winning AND maintaining possession.

At the very least, the latest version of the 4-4-2 used Saturday could be re-shaped slightly to provide a similar effect. Le Toux and Ruiz spent a great deal of the early part of the game playing side by side with very little success. Without changing the lineup, if Le Toux drops underneath Ruiz slightly you essentially get a 4-5-1 lite. Le Toux will see more of the ball, and Ruiz should have more support when he receives the ball. This would have the added benefit of opening the corners more to release Mapp and Daniel into runs I would love to see more of. If Nowak is not in favor of these types of changes, let’s hope we can carry the fortune we saw Saturday (where the woodwork was given save of the game . . . twice). My heart wants to surrender to the Union, but I can’t quite shake the warning bells from my head.

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Union 1, New York 0: Supersub Torres gets his first to sink Red Bulls

Posted on 09 April 2011 by Breton Bonnette

In front of a PPL Park record crowd, a rivalry and intensity continues to build between the Union and the Red Bulls. The rivalry between both team’s supporters, however, feels like it has been around for years. The supporters of both the Union and the Red Bulls were in full voice for a nationally televised I-95 derby earlier tonight creating an atmosphere that was borderline deafening  as well as a back and forth, game-long supporters standoff that was complemented by an exciting, free-flowing, attack-oriented 90+ minutes of play.

Not even the atmosphere, however, could change the fact that the Union were still searching for that gamechanger. A role Le Toux played last year but Seba had yet to put his mark on a game this season. Enter Danny Mwanga and Roger Torres, both second half substitutes. After a wide open affair for the brunt of the game, in which each team took turns launching counterattacks, a New York defensive mistake left the door wide open for the Union. Mwanga and Torres just walked right in, made themselves at home with Mwanga doing the dirty work and Torres supplying the gamewinner, his first goal in a Union . The result sent New York, and a listless Thierry Henry and Dwayne DeRosario, back to Red Bull Arena with their first loss.

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

———————————Mondragon———————————

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

———————-Carroll——————Miglioranzi——————

Mapp—————————————————————-K. Daniel

———————–Le Toux—————–Ruiz—————————

Red Bull New York Starting XI

————————————Coundoul———————————-

Solli——————Ream——————-Marquez—————Miller

————————————Tainio————————————–

Richards———————–De Rosario————————Lindpere

———————–Agudelo—————-T. Henry———————-

Scoring Summary:

PHI — Roger Torres 1 (Danny Mwanga 1) 68

Misconduct Summary:

NY — Rafael Marquez (caution; Dissent) 14
NY — Dane Richards (caution; Reckless Tackle) 29
PHI — Danny Mwanga (caution; Reckless Tackle) 77
NY — Roy Miller (caution; Reckless Tackle) 82

Referee: Alex Prus

Referee’s Assistants: Rob Fereday; Corey Parker
4th Official:
Mark Kadlecik
Attendance:
19,027
Time of Game:
1:50
Weather:
Cloudy and 62 degrees

 

Much more to come…including an extended game report, photos, player ratings, and player quotes/video.


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Trio of Union GAs head off to Spain

Posted on 30 November 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney, and Amobi Okugo left for Spain yesterday with the Generation Adidas squad to spend the next 10 days or so going toe to toe with some of the best youth talent in Spain. Okugo, specifically, will be working double duty after having played apart in the US Under-20s matches with Colombia and Mexico, two losses decided by penalty kicks.

FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman will head up the team of Generation Adidas players after a season that saw the Hoops land in the MLS Cup finals, a relatively shocking development for Dallas fans. The fixture list will consist of Real Madrid on Thursday (Dec 2), Rayo Vallecano next Tuesday (Dec 7), and Atletico Madrid next Thursday (Dec 8).

Goalkeepers – Stefan Frei (Toronto FC), Sean Johnson (Chicago)

Defenders – Jeremy Hall (Portland), Ike Opara (San Jose)

Midfielders – Corben Bone (Chicago), Danny Cruz (Houston), Dilly Duka (Columbus), Luis Gil (RSL), Baggio Husidic (Chicago), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Tony Tchani (New York)

Forwards – Juan Agudelo (New York), Tristan Bowen (Los Angeles), Teal Bunbury (Sporting Kansas City), Peri Marosevic (FCD), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia), Danny Mwanga (Philadelphia), Andrew Wiedeman (FC Dallas)

Some are recent graduates of the Generation Adidas program but 13 of the 15 currently under a GA contract will be making the trip. It should be nice to see Jack Mac, Okugo, and Mwanga back in action. Check out MLSSoccer.com occasionally as there should be video of the trip.

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Player Ratings: Kansas City at Philadelphia

Posted on 04 September 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Frustrations abound so the game recap will be laid out by the following player ratings. A relatively decent game by all players involved but the season-old issue persists. One huge mistake dictates the course of the game. Let us just focus on the player ratings…

GK: Chris Seitz (5)

Pretty sure-handed all around as several balls that came in were somewhat dangerous. However, when called into serious action, Seitz left things exposed. Davy Arnaud saw the keeper off his line a little bit and curled a shot far post. He was called on several times after that as the Union pressed forward but these types of mistakes are costly. Piotr Nowak has a decision to make for next weekend and it sounds like he is leaning in one direction.

DR: Michael Orozco Fiscal (6)

Orozco Fiscal was quiet and, for him, that’s impressive. He was doing his job, distributing, keeping Ryan Smith in check. Right at the onset of the second half, he was forced to make a dramatic diving stop on Smith after the Wizards attacker had rounded Seitz. In the late stages, the right-back had a chance to push forward a fast moving counter attack but he couldn’t corral a switched ball.

DC: Danny Califf (6.5)

The Wizards attack rarely threatened Califf the biggest reason for that. His physicality was kept in check as he dealt with two big strikers. Had no trouble with distribution today.

DC: Juan Diego Gonzalez (5.5)

Blown by early on, exposed by Ryan Smith’s speed, but made up for it with a decent sense of positioning. He still looks shaky back there but held his own against a big Teal Bunbury and Birahim Diop duo.

DL: Jordan Harvey (6.5)

Harvey was active up the left wing working with high energy and helping wake a sluggish offense up early on. Between Orozco and Harvey, either their conditioning has improved to the point where they can not get caught up as often or these guys have figured something out.

MR: Justin Mapp (7)

Mapp can run an organized, confident attack at times or he can be a frustrating player in his nonchalance and laid-back approach. He was impressive today, however, directing traffic. If anything at all came out of today, it’s that Mapp should probably be starting. He’s provides some of the same creativity and excitement of Torres without the uncertainty of whether or not he can execute his idea.

MC: Amobi Okugo (7)

Starting in place of the injured Eduardo Coudet, Okugo took some odd touches early on – still working on those early game jitters it seems. Once he settled down, the 19-year old asserted himself well in the middle. Probably his best match of the season and put in a decent enough performance to warrant another look.

MC: Stefani Miglioranzi (6)

Miglioranzi unleashed a beauty of shot in the 27th minute and quarterbacked a central midfield that received passing grades on the day. The veteran did what he had to do to win the midfield, stopping up any central runs and distributing loose balls out wide. It was nice to see a Union player take a troublesome

ML: Andrew Jacobson (6)

Gave way to Roger Torres at the half and I’m not sure why. He wasn’t Fred on the wing but he certainly held his own. He was the logical midfielder to take out but not when you’re a goal up and Roger Torres is notorious for being a defensive liability.

FC: Danny Mwanga (8) ASN PHILLY’s MAN OF THE MATCH

If it weren’t for Jimmy Nielsen, Mwanga could have had two on the day. It would be tough not to call him Rookie of the Year at the moment. He matures every game out. The 19-year old kept Kansas City’s defense on their toes all game and his assist to Le Toux was calm and composed after a 50-yard run. The best thing about Mwanga was his close-quarter dribbling. Impressive all-around.

FC: Sebastien Le Toux (7)

Le Toux was given one of the easiest goals this season in the 33rd minute thanks to the work of Danny Mwanga on the wing. The Union all-star’s mutually beneficial relationship with the rookie is now most certainly the hottest strike tandem in the league. So much so that even if Moreno gets healthy enough again, we can’t imagine him breaking this partnership apart.

Substitutions:

Roger Torres (5)

Came on at the half for Andrew Jacobson. It’s clear his feet can’t quite carry out what his mind is coming up with. On several occasions, he had an easier, more direct route but he opted for the flashy chip or pass against the grain. Needs to work in simpler manners, especially if he’s going to be the defensive liability that he is.

Jack McInerney (N/A)

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

——————————-Seitz———————————–

Orozco F.———-Califf———–Gonzalez————-Harvey

——————Miglioranzi——–Okugo————————

Mapp——————————————————Jacobson

———————-Mwanga——-Le Toux———————–

Kansas City Wizards Starting XI

—————————–Nielsen———————————-

Harrington——-Conrad———–S. Thomas———Espinoza

——————-Rocastle————Auvray———————

——————————-Arnaud——————————–

————-Bunbury——-Diop——R. Smith——————-

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Photos from Union v Colorado Rapids at PPL Park

Posted on 14 August 2010 by tmclaughlin

The Union prepare to take on the Colorado Rapids

ASN Philly photographer Terry McLaughlin was on the field to capture some photos for you as the Union took on the Colorado Rapids on a beautiful afternoon at PPL Park.

no images were found

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Game #19 Preview: Colorado Rapids at Philadelphia Union

Posted on 14 August 2010 by stoma

Will Mwanga celebrate today as he did against Seattle? (Terry McLaughlin/ASN Philly)

Colorado Rapids at Philadelphia Union

Chester, PA, PPL Park
Wednesday, August 14, 2010, 4:00PM, 6 ABC

Philadelphia Union Projected Starters (4-10-4)

———————————–Seitz————————————

Arrieta————-Califf—————–Gonzalez———–Orozco Fiscal

———————Coudet—————-Miglioranzi————————–

Mapp——————————————————————–Fred

———————Moreno—————-Le Toux—————————

OUT: MF Shea Salinas (L fibula fracture), PROBABLE: MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain), D Jordan Harvey (L groin strain);

FW  Danny Mwanga (L groin)

Colorado Projected Starters (7-5-6)

———————————-Matt Pickens————————————–

Wynne————–Moor—————–Baudet—————-Earls

— Ballouchy———  Larentowicz————— Mastroeni ———Thompson

——————–Cummings————-Casey—————————–

OUT: MF Colin Clark (L knee ACL tear); MF Ciaran O’Brien (L hip sprain); FW Ross Schunk (R ACL tear) PROBABLE: FW Conor Casey (head trauma); MF Jamie Smith (neck strain)

Did you know?

Colorado is the last team the Union have yet to face.  After this game, Philadelphia will have played against every team in the league at least once.

Colorado is in 5th place in the Western Conference coming into the game, but is only 3 points behind FC Dallas for the 3rd spot in the conference as the push for the playoffs intensifies.

Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz is still looking for the first clean sheet in the franchise’s short history. Colorado, at only 20 goals in 18 games, is as good a candidate to do it against as anyone.

The Rapids are 3-4-2 on the road this season. However, they haven’t been on the road since July 25, a 2-1 loss to the Sounders in Seattle.

Keys to the Game

Win the midfield.  Fred and Justin Mapp need to get more involved this game against a tough midfield duo of Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz.  If the Union’s attacking mids can control the ball, it bodes well for the Union’s chances.

Solid work at the back.  Assuming he’ll play, Conor Casey remains a top goal-scoring threat, with 7 on the season thus far.  Of the usual center back options, only captain Danny Califf has the size to compete with the 6’2, 170 lb striker.  This means that we’ve got to see the “good Danny” if the Union are to keep Casey out.

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Curse of the back-up keeper, Union deadlock defending champions

Posted on 11 August 2010 by Breton Bonnette

"Le Toux"

The People's Player

The Union followed the weather patterns on a hot Wednesday evening that eventually turned cool in front of 16,128 on the waterfront. Real Salt Lake, ravaged with injuries were forced to field a makeshift squad, missing a host of starters (namely Alvaro Saborio and Jamison Olave with Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Findley, Robbie Russell, and Nick Rimando on the bench). It didn’t matter. The back-ups showed up for the defending champions, namely the unknown second-string keeper Kyle Reynish.

The Union offense pressured Reynish the brunt of the game with very little to show for it. Most expansion teams would be thrilled to play the defending MLS champions to a tie but once again, aggressors most of the way, the Union failed to capitalize on key chances and had several breakdowns on defense. The idea was to get a goal early for the Union and build off of that momentum. After all, Real Salt Lake hadn’t won yet this season after conceding the first goal. History, however, doesn’t always quite repeat itself.

Danny Mwanga delivered impressively in his first game back. In the 8th minute, Sebastien Le Toux received the ball off a Jordan Harvey throw-in, flicking first time to a streaking Mwanga. The rookie made no mistakes wrong-footing Kyle Reynish and slotting it to the left. It was his 6th of the year and resumed his pursuit of Rookie of the Year honors. Unfortunately, the Union defense wouldn’t let him savor the moment. They were poised in the first 15 minutes, breaking up counter attacks and distributing well out of the back. That feeling of security dissipated as quickly after the dangerous Fabian Espindola snaked his way through the Union defense, embarassing captain Danny Califf in the process, and slotting home an 18th minute goal right under a helpless Chris Seitz. Once again, the quest for a shutout fell short. Despite the goal against the run of play (deja vu anyone?), the Union offense remained lively and ambitious. A looping through ball found Sebastien Le Toux wide open against a charging Reynish only 10 minutes later.  Uncharacteristically, however, the All-Star put it right into the body of the back-up postponing Le Toux’s achievement of his first 10-goal season in Major League Soccer. Much like Le Toux operating as the thorn in Salt Lake’s side, Espindola acted the same role against Califf and the Union’s newest signing Juan Pablo Gonzalez. Even Chris Seitz caught the timid bug for a short while late in the half, overrunning a long cross from Tony Beltran. Overall, the Union once again found a way to allow their opponents back into the match.

That feeling of uncertainty persisted in the second half despite Danny Califf’s attempt to atone for his earlier marking fiasco. A corner delivered by Sebastien Le Toux found its way onto Califf’s head and destined for the corner of the net. Kyle Reynish wouldn’t allow it, parrying the well-taken attempt wide. The Union kept pushing the pace, cornering the Salt Lake defense, but nothing was cracking Reynish. Nowak’s remedy was the injection of Roger Torres in the 56th minute, his first game in a little over a month. Justin Mapp gave way after a particularly ineffective appearance. Torres received his applause but it was Mwanga doing all the hard work on the field. Unfortunately, after a defensive mishap right outside the penalty box left the rookie all alone with Reynish, Mwanga couldn’t convert – taking too heavy of a touch. Reynish, easily the man of this match, gobbled it up. Though we’re not not sure how many times you can say it, the Union created their chances as they often did at home but after the early 8th minute effort, not one connected. It felt all too familiar. The 90th minute came and went and so did the chance for heroics.

Whether its lack of focus, lack of a killer instinct, or just plain bad luck, the Union haven’t solved it. No longer is the ball in Piotr Nowak’s court. It’s the players’ game to win. Two botched one-on-ones, several close calls, or a body on Fabian Espindola would have done the trick. Nowak, however, was alright with the performance. “I’m proud of their effort today. After those three games, they came back strong. There’s a better mentality”. Kyle Reynish, inconsistent refereeing, and purposeful diving from Real Salt Lake or not, this was a game the Union should have won.

Philadelphia Union Starting XI

———————————–Seitz—————————————

Orozco F.———-Califf——————–Gonzalez————-Harvey

———————————–Coudet————————————-

Mapp—————————Nakazawa—————————–Fred

———————-Le Toux—————–Mwanga———————

Real Salt Lake Starting XI

———————————Reynish————————————-

Beltran————–McKenzie————Borchers————-Wingert

Williams—————-Morales———-Alexandre——–N.Gonzalez

————————Campos———–Espindola————————

Scoring Summary:

PHI — Danny Mwanga 6 (Sebastien Le Toux 8) 8

RSL — Fabian Espindola 5 (Tony Beltran 2) 17

Real Salt Lake — Kyle Reynish, Tony Beltran, Rauwshan McKenzie, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams (Will Johnson 64), Jean Alexandre,Javier Morales, Nelson Gonzalez (Collen Warner 72), Pablo Campos (Robbie Findley 64), Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy, Robbie Russell, Nick Rimando.

Philadelphia Union — Chris Seitz, Jordan Harvey, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Fred (Andrew Jacobson 81), Kyle Nakazawa(Amobi Okugo 63), Justin Mapp (Roger Torres 57), Eduardo Coudet, Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga.
Substitutes Not Used: Cristian Arrieta, Jack McInerney, Nick Zimmerman, Danny Cepero.

Misconduct Summary:

PHI — Fred (caution; Reckless Tackle) 2

RSL — Nelson Gonzalez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 37

RSL — Jean Alexandre (caution; Reckless Tackle) 50

RSL — Rauwshan McKenzie (caution; Reckless Tackle) 60

RSL — Nat Borchers (caution; Reckless Foul) 79

PHI — Roger Torres (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 93+

Referee: David Gantar

Referee’s Assistants: -Philippe Briere; Adam Wienckowski

4th Official: Jeff Gontarek

Time of Game: 1:52

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Philadelphia Union vs. Manchester United: Player Ratings

Posted on 22 July 2010 by stoma

GK Brad Knighton (6.5)- Again looked indecisive early, but did the job when he was asked.  In a half highlighted by a point-blank save on Danny Welbeck in the 37th minute, he gets to say that he kept one of the best teams in the world out for a full 45 minutes.

RB Michael Orozco Fiscal (5.5)- Of the defenders, seemed to keep his calm the most early when Man U. came out of the gate quickly.  Played solidly in the middle throughout.  Continues to improve.

CB Cristian Arrieta (6.5)- Left to cover for Jordan Harvey’s frequent forays forward, he had trouble rotating over early but adjusted by the middle of the 1st half.  Came out at the half for Toni Stahl.

CB Danny Califf (6)- Looked a bit panicky in his clearances early on, pushing a couple out for corners when he had space to settle.   Communication between the back line still seems to be a problem, especially while working the offsides trap.  His strongest moment as captain came in the 88th minute, when Brian Perk came off his line yet again to handle a ball that Califf was already in the process of dealing with; Califf let Perk know in no uncertain terms what his responsibilities were.

LB Jordan Harvey (5)- While it certainly wasn’t his decision to push up constantly, his inability to track back hurt the defense several times early on.   Ultimately, his being perpetually in transition ended up being the difference in the game, as a turnover on a pass from Toni Stahl to Harvey while trying to get forward from the back resulted in the only goal of the game in the 76th minute.

MID Sebastien Le Toux (6)- Early on, with Manchester United setting the tempo, Seba took the lead in sticking his nose in, ensuring that the Union would not be an afterthought.  A couple of near misses for the freshly-selected MLS All-Star, but he most personified the hard-nosed, scrappy nature this team is starting to develop a reputation for.

MID Stefani Miglioranzi (5.5)- Looked spry on the field tonight, selling out because he knew he would be coming off at halftime.  Him and Coudet together continued to be a calming influence in the middle.  Did indeed come off at halftime.

MID Eduardo Coudet (5.5)- He must be performing well in training, because the team is looking to feed him in the midfield to allow him to link to the attack.  While he does try earnestly to help defensively, his movements are simply awkward back there. Altogether, though, a much more complete showing from the trialist this time around.

MID Fred (6)- Not as effective in this game as the last few from the wing.  Most likely due to the competition, he found himself having to get back far more often, which left him at the back when the attack started quite frequently.  Used the dribble more than the quick touch tonight.

FWD Alejandro Moreno (5.5)- Appears to be more or less fully recovered from his knee bruise, as he is back to his posting up, holding up form.  Missed on a fairly open chance from Mwanga in the 11th, but didn’t seem to be overly disappointed.  Ale is back, ladies and gentlemen.

FWD Danny Mwanga (7) *ASN PHILLY MAN OF THE MATCH*- Was clearly not intimidated, as he announced himself by taking on Fabio in the 11th minute, rounding him in the corner and then cutting it back deep to Ale Moreno, who could not convert the opportunity.  Another near miss in the 16th minute, as he cheekily turned an Eduardo Coudet into a volley on net that just cleared the bar.  Danny in particular seemed to flourish in the setting of this game.  The pace appeared just to his liking, as was the sometimes wide-open nature of the game from the 15th minute to the end of the first half.  Mwanga continues to make big strides in short periods of time.

Substitutions:

GK Brian Perk (5.5)- Once again, came in cold and immediately took control of the game from the defensive side.  When you’re as cocky as this guy comes off, you either back it up or you don’t.  Perk does.  At the same time, making strong, quick decisions assumes that you’re properly trained and ready to make the right decision the vast majority of the time.  Brian is not quite there yet, as his forays off his line are sometimes ill-advised.  We know at this point that he can make the highlight-reel save, but it is not as clear whether or not he can be the steady rock that personifies a true #1.

MID Andrew Jacobson (6)- Continues to make his case to be included in the first eleven as his brand of wide field coverage managed to draw the praise of none other than Sir Alex Ferguson.  While he failed to take a couple of good chances, he showed a motor that never stops and did an extraordinary job stabilizing the middle of a young unit in the 2nd half.

FWD Nick Zimmerman (5.5)- Came in at halftime eager to shoot, getting a decent effort off with his left foot early on in the second stanza and then a less-than-stellar effort with his right foot in the 55th minute.   Zimmerman seems to genuinely enjoy being on the field with this team and relishes every opportunity he gets.

FWD Jack McInerney (5.5)- The kid clearly does not lack confidence, as he will shoot it from anywhere on the offensive side of the field (perhaps from across midfield as well, although we haven’t seen it yet).  There’s excitement in the air every time this kid laces up the boots.

MID Amobi Okugo (5.5)–  One thing is clear: this kid will be exciting one day, most likely sooner rather than later.  However, for the time being, he’s going to just have to keep taking his reps where he can get them and gain confidence on the pitch in game situations.  Tonight was a nice step towards that, as Amobi eschewed the attempts for the spectacular and played his game simply and solidly.

RB Toni Stahl (4)- So, when he’s not getting sent off, he’s making ill-advised passes that end up leading to game-deciding goals.  Throw in his pass back toward the center after receiving Brian Perk’s panicked pass from the back that led to a frantic scramble in its own right, and it continues to baffle as to why Stahl is given chance after chance with this team.

MID Kyle Nakazawa (5)– Back from his lengthy injury rehab, the man billed by the team as a “free kick specialist” almost delivered from distance in the 55th minute.  Put another shot on net off a broken build-up in the 74th minute, but didn’t impose himself on the game much otherwise.

MID Martin Rivas (4.5)- The latest trialist came on in the 61st minute and immediately looked lost.  He didn’t know where he was supposed to be and, when he did stumble upon the ball a few times, he was eager to rid himself of it. His youth is appealing (18 years old) but if you ask us, the jury need not be out on this trial.

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