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Game #23 Preview: Struggling Union to Host Streaking Dallas in Adu’s Debut

Posted on 13 August 2011 by stoma

Otto Greule Jr/Getty


The good news for Union fans and Freddy Adu is that the former prodigy was already in Philadelphia for the U.S.-Mexico friendly on Wednesday (although Adu was not included on the game-day roster, likely due to the imminent signing).  The bad news is FC Dallas midfielder Brek Shea has also been able to avoid travel.  The worse news is that Shea continued his torrid play of late, this time on the international stage, though those of us who also root fervently for the national team cannot complain too much about that.

Lost in the flurry of activity surrounding the return of Adu to the MLS, where the phenom began his professional career at the age of 14, is that a white-hot Dallas team is coming into town at a time when the Union have shown signs of losing their grip on what began as a strong campaign.  FC Dallas have not been defeated in any competition since July 9, a road loss to Real Salt Lake.  Dallas is led by Shea, who is by now not-so-quietly putting together a strong MLS MVP candidacy with 9 goals thus far, including 5 that have gone on to be the game winner.  The 21 year-old burst on to the national team stage on Wednesday night, winning his 3rd cap with the senior team and recording his 1st international assist on the Robbie Rogers equalizer in the 73rd minute.

On the flip side, Philadelphia, who entered the All-Star & international friendly break in the schedule as one of the hottest teams in the league, has suffered a home loss and two draws in the last two weeks, not to mention the defection of leading scorer Carlos Ruiz.  They have seen their strong hold on a playoff berth grow tenuous, as the Eastern Conference standings now resemble an I-95 traffic glut.

Can the addition of Adu provide the Philadelphia side the spark it needs to get its playoff run back on track?  On paper, Freddy gives the Union just what they need, which is a midfielder who can quarterback what has been an anemic attack.  Sadly, the experiment of throwing Roger Torres into the fire and expecting his decision-making ability to drastically improve has not quite panned out.  Adu brings to the table the speed and on-the-ball ability of Torres as well as the experience and veteran savvy that belies Adu’s 22 years.  Reports are that Adu is fit and eligible for selection tonight.  Post your predictions as to whether Freddy starts, subs in or sits this one out in the comments section along with your score predictions as always!

REFEREE: Geoff Gamble. SAR (bench): Daniel Belleau; JAR (opposite): Eric Proctor; 4th: Drew Fischer
MLS Career: 6 games; FC/gm: 21.5; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 1; pens: 4

INJURY REPORT: PHILADELPHIA UNION – QUESTIONABLE: MF Kyle Nakazawa (illness); FW Levi Houapeu (L ankle strain); PROBABLE: DF Sheanon Williams (lower leg contusion)

FC DALLAS – OUT: DF Edson Edward (R knee ACL tear); MF David Ferreira (R ankle); FW Maykel Galindo (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Andrew Jacobson (L knee); DF Jackson (R ankle); DF Ugo Ihemelu (concussion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: DAL: Fabian Castillo (Colombia U-20)


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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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Real Madrid C.F. set for showdown with the Union at the Linc, stars in tow

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Union will face world soccer giants Real Madrid tomorrow night without their leading goalscorer in international friendlies for 2011, academy player Christian Hernandez.

Sarcasm folks  but it’s the truth!

Hernandez and any players not under contract with the Union will have to sit this one out as Real Madrid visits for World Football Challenge play. Los Merengues arrive in Philadelphia welcomed by incredible heat but satisfied with their earlier performances, a 4-1 win over Los Angeles and a 3-0 shutout, courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo hattrick, of Chivas de Guadalajara. You can expect a strong, starting lineup consisting of eleven of the players below. Anyway you really look at it, it’s world class. What are you prediciting as a Union fan? Will the three goal deficit trend continue for Real Madrid opponents or will the Union give them a run for their money?

Take a look at the names the Union will be hosting tomorrow night:

1 Iker Casillas GK (420 appearances for Real Madrid and over 120 caps for the Spanish national team including a World Cup championship)

2 Ricardo Carvalho DF

3 Pepe DF

4 Sergio Ramos DF

6 Sami Khedira MF

7 Cristiano Ronaldo FW  (53 goals in 54 appearances in all competitions last season)

8 Kaka MF

9 Karim Benzema FW (26 goals in 48 apps. in all competitions last season)

10 Mesut Özil MF

11 Esteban Granero MF

12 Marcelo DF

13 Antonio Adán GK

14 Xabi Alonso MF

15 Fabio Coentrão DF

17 Alvaro Arbeola DF

18 Raul Albiol DF

19 Raphael Varane DF

21 Jose Maria Callejon MF

25 Tomas Mejias GK

26 Jorge Casado DF

27 Jose Fernández “Nacho” DF

28 Jese Rodriguez FW

29 Jose Luis Mato FW

35 Jesus Fernandez GK

The fun will start at 9:00PM at Lincoln Financial Field. For those driving, please be aware that you’ll be competing with a 4:00PM Phillies game as well as a Rihanna concert that starts at 8:00PM. Traffic hell to say the least with over 60,000 plus expected at the Linc.

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Youngsters Put on a Show, Union Defeat Everton

Posted on 21 July 2011 by stoma

The Union had to be wondering just what they were thinking in agreeing to meet English Premier League stalwarts Everton during the middle of the season on a night in which the temperature registered at a sweltering 99 degrees at kickoff…at 7:30 pm.  The first half could not have changed their minds much, as Philadelphia created chance after chance without putting anything away.  Everton, meanwhile, looked lethargic enough for a nap on the hammock.

As the 2nd half rolled on, things began to heat up on the pitch as they cooled just above, the thermostat dropping to a chilly 92 degrees.  While Everton largely stayed with their Starting XI, the Union began infusing their lineup with some serious youth.  Along with 16 year-old Zach Pfeffer, who entered at the half,   Piotr Nowak gave looks to Christian Hernandez (17) and Jimmy McLaughlin (18) as the game waned on with no real action.  The youngsters really imposed their will on the game, opening up the rhythm to a fever pitch and creating several chances with mature-beyond-their-years combinations and loping open-field runs.

After a 1st half in which 19 year-old rookie Zac MacMath minded the net, 25 year-old MLS rookie Thorne Holder took over, eager to show his club that he had fully recovered from the after-effects of the concussion he had suffered a couple of months ago.  Holder came up big in preventing the Toffees’ only real chance of the evening, when Apostalis Vellias redirected a quick chipped cross from Ross Barkley.  Holder flashed to his left and deflected the Vellias left-footed strike with his full, open palm.  And, like a comet streaking in the sky, the Everton attack vanished once again.

It was Hernandez who broke through and sent the fans home happy.  After yet another near miss, this one off the foot of Pfeffer, who had found space at the top of the area on a quick break, only to find his shot parried by a diving Jan Mucha, who was game all night despite chants such as “You’re not Howard!” and “Where’s Tim Howard? On vacation!”  After a failed attempted clearance, the ball ping-ponged its way to Hernandez, who stood waiting patiently and calmly slotted the ball into the uncovered left corner of the net.  Christian, showing his youth in a display certainly welcome amongst Union supporters, openly wept, in the corner, overcome by such a picture perfect moment

In addition to the unproven youngsters, regular sub Roger Torres, who is just 20 himself, got a start and lasted the full 90 minutes, featuring an arsenal of deft touches that reminded everyone in attendance just how the young Colombian became the fan favorite that he is.

Regular starters Sheanon Williams and Carlos Valdes also stood out, reminding their club’s supporters, not to mention anyone else who was watching, just how egregious it was to have left them off the MLS All-Star Team.  Valdes appeared particularly intent on having a great time will playing exemplary football, snuffing out the Everton forays before they materialized on one end and then joining the attack and showing off his apparently dormant target-man abilities on the other.

All in all, the Union got what they wanted from the night, even if US superstar Tim Howard was not in the opposing net.  Following the game, assistant John Hackworth summed it up best, remarking “We played well, that was the biggest part for us…against that kind of quality opponent.  So, to score at that point, it’s like it doesn’t really matter.  At the same time, it’s great to finally get a goal after feeling like we deserved one and send the crowd home happy.”  Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea, after all.

Scoring summary:

PHI – Christian Hernandez (Unassisted) 87′

Misconduct Summary:

EVE — John Heitinga (caution; Reckless Tackle) 83

PHI — Christian Hernandez (caution; Shirt Removal) 88

EVE — John Heitinga (ejection; Serious Foul) 83

PHI — Roger Torres (caution; Reckless Foul) 93+


Philadelphia Union — Zac MacMath (Thorne Holder 46); Sheanon Williams (Ryan Richter 46), Carlos Valdes (Juan Diego Gonzalez 46), Stefani Miglioranzi, Gabriel Farfan (Zach Pfeffer 63); Justin Mapp (Michael Farfan 46), Amobi Okugo, Roger Torres, Keon Daniel (Christian Hernandez 70); Jack McInerney (Jimmy McLaughlin 78), Danny Mwanga

Substitutes Not Used: None

Everton Football Club — Jan Mucha, Phil Neville, Leighton Baines, John Heitinga, Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Ross Barkley 64), Magaye Gueye (Jack Rodwell 46), Mikel Arteta (Sylvain Distin 46), Jermaine Beckford (Apostolos Vellios 46), Cahill Tim (Conor McAleny 78)

Substitutes Not Used: Adam Davies, Eric Dier, Ibou Touray, J. Johns

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee’s Assistants:
 Adam Wienckowski
4th Official:
 Eric Boria
 Hot, Humid, Hazy, 99 degrees


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Union Ready to Face Everton, MLS Season On Hold (UPDATED)

Posted on 19 July 2011 by stoma

Last year around this time, when the Union lined up Celtic FC and Manchester United a week apart, the break from the MLS regular season seemed a welcome one.  Philadelphia was sputtering in the middle of its inaugural campaign, the baby steps they had been making beginning to take their physical and emotional toll. Now, however, as Philadelphia prepares to take a week off and host world-renowned opponents Everton FC and Real Madrid in a span of just 4 days, they put on the back burner a highly successful first half of the season.

With their convincing road win against New England on Sunday, the Union find themselves 3 points clear at the top of the table in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the Columbus Crew as well as the Red Bulls, who have played 2 more games than Philadelphia.

The task at hand, however, is upon Philadelphia.  Over the last few years, the MLS has risen to the challenge of taking on the world’s best and taken representing the league in these friendlies as a matter of pride.  No less than Sir Alex Ferguson told ESPN the Magazine: “MLS is developing into a far more competitive league.  The games are more difficult.”  Ferguson should know, as his Manchester United squad was on the receiving end of a 2-1 Kansas City win last year after squeaking by the Union 1-0.

In Everton, the Union will get a fair test of how far they’ve come. In a midweek match at PPL Park, the team will be able to ease into the pomp and circumstance, not to mention the away-match feel, that will accompany the galácticos of Real Madrid at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.

With the organization of the Herbalife World Football Challenge, the European teams have been incentivized to bring their A teams as well as their A games to the United States. All of the stars of Everton, including Tim Howard, Tim Cahill, Phil Neville & Mikel Arteta, are expected to see significant action tomorrow night at PPL Park. (EDIT: Howard is not with the club and will not be playing tomorrow; see below for update.)

Everton will have an open practice today at PPL Park from 4-5 pm.  Season ticket holders are invited to attend.  Park in Lot B at no cost and enter the stadium through the PPL EnergyPlus Gate, which opens at 3:00 p.m.  Check back for updates later today & feel free to post your match predictions in the comments!


Following a press conference with Manager David Moyes, defender and Captain Phil Neville, and midfielder Mikel Arteta, it was divulged that Tim Howard was not with the team presently. He was given a “rest & recuperation period” following the Gold Cup and prior to the start of the English Premier League season in 3 weeks. It is not likely that Howard will be in attendance tomorrow night and it does not sound as though he will play in DC, either.  He is scheduled to join the club and accompany them back to England at the end of the week.

Other notes from the press conference:

  • David Moyes, expanding on the European opinion of the MLS’ improvement when asked whether the average European fan would give the MLS credit that the managers and players do:  “No, I don’t think they would.  But we’re [the players and managers] are the people in the know, aren’t we? Your national team has been doing well these past few years.  We see your stadiums full, your fanbase growing.  Thousands of American children play soccer.  Because all of the other sports you’ve got over here, they’re for freaks: you’ve got to be 6’5, 6’7 to play basketball, you’ve got to weigh 18 stone [which converts to 252 pounds] and solid as a rock to play American football.  Soccer is something which everybody can play.  If you’re talented and gifted, you can play soccer.”
  • David Moyes on playing in the United States and in Philadelphia, in particular:  “We’ve been in the States several years and we’ve really enjoyed it.  It gives us the freedom to train.  We’ve actually been training at the Eagles’ facility and it’s fantastic.  They’ve been very accommodating to have us in at this time.   So, we look forward to it; we’ve played in several cities in the U.S., but never before in Philadelphia.  I haven’t had the chance yet to have a look at [PPL Park], but I’m told that it’s one of the really good new stadiums.”
  • Phil Neville, on the benefits of playing a team that is in the middle of their season: “The last couple of years we’ve come here, playing Real Salt Lake, playing the MLS All-Stars, they have been a bit ahead of us in terms of their fitness.  It’s a good test for us.  We played a League One team [English 3rd Division, Bury F.C.] and it was quite an easy game for us.  We know this week, with the MLS in the middle of its season, are going to be real tough games.  I’ve seen a lot of Washington and a lot of Philadelphia and I know that both teams are very fit.  It’s a test that we need at this stage.  We’ve done a lot of fitness work, and it’s time to get tested in match situations.”
  • David Moyes, on how the MLS teams might see these friendlies during their midseason:  “It’s different for the Union, they’re in the middle of their season.  Maybe they’re thinking ‘hey, maybe we don’t want all these games just now’, I don’t know how they see it.  But I’m sure their players will be keen to do well against the well-known European teams.”

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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

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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Union Defeat Chivas, Come Away With 3 Huge Points

Posted on 26 June 2011 by stoma

As the Union approach midseason, they find themselves ensconced in the doldrums of what folks in baseball commonly call the “dog days of summer”.  Since erupting for 6 goals in Toronto on May 28, Philadelphia was winless in its last 4 matches coming into this game, with 3 ties and a loss.  Worse, they have scored 2 goals over that stretch.  Worst of all, they have been in the midst of what should have been the easy part of their schedule, facing off against the cellar dwellers in the Western and Eastern Conferences (Vancouver and Kansas City, respectively) with the mid-table Colorado Rapids and Real Salt Lake mixed in.

The good news is that there is still time to get fat off of the competition as Chivas USA come calling with little to write home about in their season to date.  With only 1 win in their last 6 matches and fresh off of 2 straight losses, Chivas in entrenched in 8th place in a loaded Western Conference, their playoff hopes dashed before the return matches even begin.  However, the Union’s recent struggles show that no opponent can be taken lightly.  If they were to earn 3 points against Chivas, they would have to take them.

Coming out in the same 4-3-1-2 formation as against Kansas City, Philadelphia looked for much better production and, from early on, it seemed as though they would rather lose than go scoreless once again.  From the start, the match picked up a wide open pace, with both squads playing fast and loose with their formations.  The momentum began to swing towards the Union around the 10th minute, as the home team put together several chances in a row.  As has been the trend, however, they were not able to find that last necessary touch that would spring them for a goal.  Jack McInerney, growing more comfortable with his 2nd consecutive start, boldly took on Michael Umana in the 25th minute, turning the defender around badly.  Not so boldly, he passed up the shot in favor of a lay-off to Sebastien Le Toux, who took the shot on with his weaker left foot that never even found its way to Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kenedy.

Union captain and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon was tested for the first time in 2 matches in the 27th minute, when Nick LaBrocca ripped a shot from the top of the area that appeared ticketed for the back of the net when Mondragon dove left and upwards, parrying the shot up and over the bar, bailing out his defense in the process.  This was not the case following the subsequent corner kick, when a deflection and then a headed pass from Ben Zemanski landed on the head of Umana, who nodded it past an already beaten Mondragon for the game’s opening tally.

The Union threatened to respond immediately, when Sebastien Le Toux sprung free after the restart only to have his shot deflected wide of the right post.  Philadelphia at that point recaptured the early momentum, yet were still unable to turn that momentum into a goal despite several excellent chances.  Halftime arrived and the home team was facing a 1-0 deficit.  This had the feel of a moment that could be one of several key turning points in a team’s season.  Either the Union could rejuvenate their campaign and solidify themselves as a team to be counted, or they could ride this tailspin into MLS irrelevancy.

Philadelphia took all of two and a half minutes into the 2nd half to make certain their intentions, as Justin Mapp sent a cross in front of the net that newcomer Veljko Paunovic drove into the net, reclaiming the crowd and, perhaps, the season. But they still needed that second goal; without the win, the team would stay stuck in neutral.  Chance after chance went by the wayside as the Philadelphia forwards seemingly had forgotten the offsides rule altogether, with Carlos Ruiz in particular garnering 5 calls against him.  All told, the Union had 9 plays called back for offsides, most notably what could have been a second goal when Ruiz slotted home a hard through ball from Sheanon Williams only to find that he had been standing approximately 5 yards beyond the closest defender when the ball was struck.

Finally, sweet release for the team and the 18,139 in attendance, who had spent the initial 68 minutes in a mixture of trepidation and disbelief, when Ruiz took a long ball in the air from Paunovic, settled it, took two touches to his right, and beat Kennedy on his short side.  Instead of opting for his shark’s fin celebration, El Pescadito stared into the crowd as if to announce that he would not be going anywhere, as had been the rumor the last couple of weeks.

But pulling themselves out a hole this deep would not be so simple.  Following a Philadelphia giveaway at midfield in the 77th minute, Jorge Flores sent a through ball into the air that did not appear destined for anything in particular, until Justin Braun materialized all by himself, having gotten behind Carlos Valdes and beaten Danny Califf.   All that was left to finish the equalizer was for Braun to poke it beyond the reach of Mondragon, who had come of his line when he saw his defense beaten so badly.

It would take something truly special to win this game.  An extraordinary play from an exemplary player.  The Union got such a play from such a player in the 82nd minute when Le Toux sent a ball across to Danny Mwanga, who had replaced McInerney at halftime, about 5 yards above the penalty area.  The second-year striker settled, took one touch to his right, then let loose an absolute laser beam across his body and across the goal mouth, beating Kennedy on his right.  As the crowd erupted, Mwanga knelt, as though expelling the spirits that had plagued the team over their stretch of poor play, and the crowd knew their home side had secured the win and 3 points.

And a much needed win it was, as Philadelphia will not see the inside of PPL Park again until their July 20 friendly against Tim Howard and Everton FC.  This three-game road stretch will see the Union against Eastern Conference rival D.C. United before heading out west to San Jose and finally trekking back east to face New England.  The team badly needed a shot in the arm to sustain them; if, in fact, the Union did find themselves on the right end of a season-defining turning point, the next three opponents had better watch out.


Philadelphia Union Starting XI




Le Toux————————-Paunovic————————————–Mapp



Chivas USA Starting XI







Scoring Summary:

28’ CHVMichael Umana 1 (Ben Zemanski 3)
48’ PHI — Veljko Paunovic 1 (Justin Mapp 1)
69’ PHI — Carlos Ruiz 4 (Paunovic 1)
77’ CHV — Justin Braun 4 (Jorge Flores 2)
82’ PHI — Danny Mwanga 5 (Sebastien Le Toux 5)

Misconduct Summary:

64’ Carlos Valdes  (Tactical Foul)

Chivas USA-
Dan Kennedy, Zarek Valentin, Michael Umana (Andrew Boyens 45), Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic, Paulo Nagamura, Ben Zemanski (Blair Gavin 77), Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores, Justin Braun, Marcos Mondaini (Chris Cortez 71)

Substitutes Not Used: Zach Thornton, Victor Estupinan, Michael Lahoud, Mariano Trujillo

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey (Keon Daniel 45), Brian Carroll,), Veljiko Paunovic (Kyle Nakazawa 73), Justin Mapp, Sebastien Le Toux, Jack McInerney (Danny Mwanga 45), Carlos Ruiz

Substitutes Not Used: Zac MacMath, Roger Torres, Amobi Okugo, Michael Farfan

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee’s Assistants: C.J. Morgante, Corey Rockwell
4th Official: Jose Carlos Rivera
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 80 degrees
Attendance: 18,139

Time of Game: 1:50


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Union Stay Unbeaten at Home, Yet Find Scoreless Draw Against Kansas City Disappointing

Posted on 23 June 2011 by stoma

Following a lackluster road loss to Western Conference cellar-dweller Vancouver, the Union returned home for a short week to regroup and prepare to face the bottom-ranked team from the Eastern Conference, Sporting Kansas City.  However, Kansas City has been improving of late, surely buoyed by finally having a home, the picturesque Livestrong Sporting Park.  It was there that Kansas City downed the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 on Friday, their 3rd shutout in the month of June.  Sporting is unbeaten in 5 MLS games, 6 if a 5-0 victory over the New England Revolution in the U.S. Open Cup is counted.  The Union are still unbeaten at home in 7 contests.  Philadelphia again saw their standing in the Eastern Conference table see-saw with New York, with the rival Red Bulls pulling into 1st following an away draw against the Portland Timbers, who have quickly made their home a fortress.

Coming into the game, a low-scoring affair was expected, as Philadelphia has given up a mere 12 goals through its first 14 contests, good for 2nd in the MLS.  Meanwhile, both Kansas City and the Union rank in the bottom third of the league in goals scored.  However, Piotr Nowak and his technical staff attempted to buck that trend with a highly aggressive starting lineup featuring two midfielders, Sebastien Le Toux and newcomer Veljiko Paunovic, who are used to playing up top.  This resulted in a formation that came off as more of a 4-1-3-2, with Brian Carroll buttressing the defense while the other midfielders pushed to attack.  This strategy produced uneven results early; while Philadelphia did have chances in the 1st half, they were also vulnerable defensively, leading to several chances for Kansas City as well.  Neither side put anything away, however, and it was scoreless through halftime, although Sporting goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen had to record 4 saves to make it so.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the pace and rhythm of the game slowed considerably after the half as the sticky air grew even heavier.  Before they knew it, the 80th minute had come and past with no serious challenges on the Kansas City goal.  Instead of pressing even further tactically, Nowak retreated to a traditional, conservative mindset with his substitutions.  Keon Daniel for Jack McInerney in the 60th minute did allow Le Toux to move up top, but it also tacitly acknowledged that the original lineup was flawed. Amobi Okugo for Paunovic in the 66th minute did the same, and while Roger Torres made perfect sense, he came on for Justin Mapp in the 79th minute just as Mapp seemed to be hitting his stride and creating chances.  When pressed on the issue after the game, Nowak did fairly iterate that his side had taken 19 shots, 7 of which were on goal, and that there were several near misses, most notably Carlos Ruiz’s header off a Seba cross that struck the crossbar in the 72nd minute and Le Toux’s strike from 20 yards that inched past the left post in the 80th.

More important than the Union’s chances and certainly more decisive in the outcome of the game was Kansas City’s tactical approach.  The visiting side managed only 1 shot on goal and never seemed intent on challenging the Philadelphia goal or opening up in any manner.  Union captain and goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon thinks that the club will see this tactic at home with increasing frequency as the season goes on, citing it as a sign of respect for the success the Union have had, especially at home.  Mondragon pointed out that “Last year, teams came here and thought they had 3 points granted; they came and they played open.  No longer, the keeper asserted: “This year, this is not the case. This year, everyone is taking the Union very seriously, with a lot of respect, and coming here to PPL Park to get 1 point as a trophy.  We have to learn how to play in this type of game, because this is the kind of game we are going to have from here until the end of the season.

Regardless of what tactic the opposition has taken, the frustration continues for Philadelphia, which must face the fact that they just played the two worst teams in the MLS in terms of record and came away with just 1 point.  As Danny Califf stated after the game, “It’s a bummer when you dominate and you can’t get anything out of it.”  Fortunately, the relatively easy stretch of competition continues with a short turnaround game against Chivas USA on Saturday at PPL Park.  In addition, they have now pulled back into a tie for the Eastern Conference lead with New York, with each team tallying 23 points in 15 games.   Chivas sits in 8th place in the Western conference and has lost two straight.  The Union hope to avoid further frustration and salvage 3 desperately needed points before heading back out onto the road for three consecutive matches.

* POSTGAME NOTE:  Following the match, there was lengthy meeting involving Stefani Miglioranzi, Piotr Nowak and other members of the technical staff. Neither Miglioranzi nor Nowak would comment on the substance of the meeting, although Miglioranzi certainly did not look pleased when exiting Nowak’s office.  Was Migs simply venting his frustration at his lack of inclusion or is there a roster move on the horizon? Stay tuned, folks.


Philadelphia Union Starting XI




Le Toux————————-Paunovic————————————–Mapp


Sporting Kansas City Starting XI







Scoring Summary:


Misconduct Summary:
29’ Julio Cesar (Reckless Challenge)

31’ Veljiko Paunovic (Reckless Challenge)

61’ Sheanon Williams (Dissent)

90’ Jimmy Nielson (Delaying)

Sporting Kansas City-
Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Julio Cesar, Matt Besler, Seth Sinovic, Kei Kamara, Luke Sassano, Davy Arnaud, Birahim Diop (Stephane Auvray 72), Omar Bravo (Michael Harrington 63), Teal Bunbury (C.J. Sapong 45)

Substitutes Not Used: Eric Kronberg, Korede Aiyegbusi, Milos Stojcev, Shavar Thomas

Philadelphia Union — Faryd Mondragon, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Jordan Harvey, Brian Carroll, Jack McInerney (Keon Daniel 60), Veljiko Paunovic (Amobi Okugo 66), Justin Mapp (Roger Torres 79), Sebastien Le Toux, Carlos Ruiz

Substitutes Not Used: Zac MacMath, Michael Farfan, Juan Diego Gonzalez, Stefani Miglioranzi

Referee: Terry Vaughn
Referee’s Assistants: Greg Barkey; Jason Cullum
4th Official: Carlos Rivero
Weather: Hazy, Humid and 80 degrees
Attendance: 18,127


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Game #12 Preview: Philadelphia at Colorado

Posted on 03 June 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Union, coming off of their biggest victory of the young season, will now head to the location where they suffered their biggest defeat of 2010. The defending champions stand in the way of positive momentum for the Union heading into a homestand against Real Salt Lake next Saturday. The Rapids are facing a bit of personnel crisis with Omar Cummings, Jamie Smith, and Marvell Wynne set to miss this game but their squad has been proven deep as they still sit respectably high in the Western Conference standings.

Philadelphia Union (6-3-2) at Colorado Rapids (4-3-6)
Saturday, June 4th, 2011
Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
9:00pm EST, The Comcast Network

Philadelphia Union Probable Starters




Mapp———————————————————————-G. Farfan

—————————Mwanga—————–Le Toux———————–

OUT: GK Thorne Holder (Concussion); MF Amobi Okugo (L ankle sprain); DOUBTFUL: MF Michael Farfan (R groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Gabriel Farfan (L hamstring strain); MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain); MF Zach Pfeffer (appendectomy); FW Carlos Ruiz (R groin strain)

Colorado Rapids Probable Starters


Kimura——————D. Moor————–Marshall————-A. Wallace




FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); DF Marvell Wynne (R hamstring strain); MF Joseph Nane (R shoulder strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Jamie Smith (L calf strain); FW Caleb Folan (R groin strain); FW Omar Cummings (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain)

Game Notes:

The Union are coming off a historic win for the franchise, a 6-2 drubbing of Toronto FC at BMO Field. Both Justin Mapp and Danny Mwanga registered braces, Le Toux had two assists, and two youngsters grabbed their first ever professional goals – Gabriel Farfan and Kyle Nakazawa. The Rapids, however, haven’t lost in a while but – on the flip side – they have tied every one of their last five games. Last time around at to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the Union were demolished 4-1 at the hands of Omar Cummings and the defending champions. It was their If Cummings plays – as he’s listed as questionable on the injury report – he’ll be the one to watch. A guy like Conor Casey, however, a towering target in the penalty area, could pick up the slack if Cummings can’t go.

Both Omar Cummings and MLS veteran Tyrone Marshall have opted to stick around in Colorado for the match-up against the Union. Marshall will be the one most likely to see some time against Philadelphia after both Marvell Wynne and his replacement Joseph Nane left their last game with injuries. The loss of Wynne could be huge as the Union’s speed down the flank and up top (especially if Mwanga and Le Toux start) should factor in against guys like Tyrone Marshall.

The five consecutive ties that the Rapids have accrued over the last month or so actually matches a Major League Soccer record. Regardless, the Rapids haven’t lost in seven games (but have only managed one win in that span). The Union will be looking for the three points obviously and for them to explode for 6 goals against Toronto FC, even without Carlos Ruiz in the lineup, was encouraging. Guys like Justin Mapp and Brian Carroll will need to build on their strengths in the midfield and when open chances are offered, they need to be taken (those two point blank chances early in the second half). They’re going to have to deal with a tough central midfield made up of USMNT veteran Pablo Mastroeni and FC Delco product Jeff Larentowicz.

Colorado is one of the best in the league on set-pieces. If Larentowicz sniffs the goal, he’ll go for it. The Union back four must minimize fouls trying to body-up on a target striker like Conor Casey or a determind Andre Akpan. Aside for 10 minutes in the second half in last Saturday’s win over Toronto, the backline was solid. They’re going to need 90 minutes against Colorado.

The Union recently cut ties with Chris Agorsor, the former youth star from the University of Virginia. Agorsor was cut even after playing the second half of Philadelphia’s match against affiliate club Reading United AC. Nowak had been saying he would get some playing time for Agorsor but it never came. His exit could be due to a request for playing time from the player himself or simply, that the Union feel they have better signings lined up as the summer window opens.

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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





————————-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




————————————-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.


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

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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