Tag Archive | "Danny Califf"

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Game #7 Preview: Philadelphia at Portland

Posted on 05 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Union head to Portland charged with the opportunity to do what Salt Lake, Chicago, and FC Dallas could not do at JELD-WEN Field. Win. It’s Major League Soccer’s best defense against a team that somewhat resembles that  ‘strong home, struggle away’ expansion Union squad we remember from a little over a year ago. Who will come out on top?

Courtesy of OregonLive.com

Portland Timbers (3-3-1) vs. Philadelphia Union (4-1-1)
Friday, May 4, 2011
JELD-WEN Field, Portland, OR, 10:30PM

Portland Timbers Projected Starting XI





OUT: FW Bright Dike (R Achilles rupture); FW Eddie Johnson (R Achilles tendinitis); FW Brian Umony (R knee MCL sprain); PROBABLE: GK Adin Brown (hamstring strain); DF David Horst (R ankle sprain); GK Jake Gleeson (L elbow sprain); MF Peter Lowry (R knee MCL strain)

Philadelphia Union Projected Starting XI




Le Toux–————————————–—————————-Daniel


OUT: GK Thorne Holder (concussion); PROBABLE: MF Gabriel Farfan (R toe dislocation); MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain); DF Danny Califf (illness); MF Keon Daniel (R foot contusion)

Game Notes:

The Union will look to be the first team to beat Portland at JELD-WEN Field in regular season play this Friday. The Timbers most recent was an impressive 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake, a team struggling with the disappointment of losing in the CONCACAF Champions League final. The Timbers did, however, drop a recent decision to San Jose in an Open Cup qualifier. Ike Opara scored an extratime gamewinner that ended the Timbers participation in the tournament but head coach John Spencer made it clear at the outset of the game that USOC play was not a priority to him, the match-up with Philadelphia was. He fielded a team of reserves in the 1-0 loss.

In two out of the three Portland wins, the Timbers defense surrendered late goals that made things relatively interesting (3-2, 4-2 respectively). Ruiz, Le Toux, and Mwanga building upon previous performances will be key. Hopefully, Le Toux getting that first goal of the year will open the floodgates for him. In Portland’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake, the away team created opportunities but in many cases, they failed to follow through with them.

Timbers striker Jorge Perlaza was at one time a Union target during the offseason. Since joining Portland, however, he has started down the road of fan favorite – scoring the first goal in JELD-WEN Field history and linking well with Kenny Cooper up top. Head coach John Spencer also has an impressive amount of speed on the wings, something that could potentially cause the Union backline a little trouble. Darlington Nagbe – #2 draft pick – and Kalif Alhassan (four assists so far) were problems for Real Salt Lake this past weekend.

The Union could be without Danny Califf in central defense due to sickness. If that’s the case, it will most likely be Juan Diego Gonzalez in replacement of Califf and Michael Farfan, fresh off his professional debut, at left back for Harvey.

The Union neutralized Steven Lenhart for the most part against San Jose but Kenny Cooper is a different story. He’s a technical target man, one that can actually beat you on the dribble if given the chance. If an undersized back like Gonzalez is forced to take Cooper for the whole 90 minutes with Perlaza looming, it could make for an unsettling 90 minutes.

The Colombian connection isn’t only prevalent with the Union. The Timbers have two Colombians in their probable starting lineup – a newly signed Diego Chara and Jorge Perlaza. Both have known each other since the age of 12. Chara should provide a calming influence in the center of the pitch while Perlaza has already shown what he can do, bagging a brace in the first game at JELD-WEN Field.

If the Union can strike first at JELD-WEN, there’s no telling how the Timbers will react along with the crowd. They are 0-3-1 when conceding first but the majority of those contests were on the road. To silence the crowd early and force them to start from behind should be a main Union concentration.

The announcement of the Broad Street Run/Union photo contest winners will be this SUNDAY night!

Predictions for the scoreline this weekend? Worried – especially since Portland are 3-0-0 at home – or are you excited to see how the Union’s defense withstands the pressure?

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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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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




Le Toux————————————————Nakazawa


Substitutions: Roger Torres, Jack McInerney, Gabriel Farfan

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

Vancouver Whitecaps Starting XI




—————–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
Clear and 45 degrees

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ASN’s Best XI, Week 1: Goalkeeper takes first Player of the Week honors

Posted on 22 March 2011 by Breton Bonnette

It was a goal-filled opening weekend to the 2011 Major League Soccer season and numerous impressive debuts. All three forwards named to the ASN Best XI hit for a brace, pushing other worthy candidates out of the XI. In the end, however, it was a veteran goalkeeper, well accustomed to the jitters and excitement of the start of a new season, that took away Player of the Week honors. We’ll be putting these together all season (with as little Union bias as possible) so you can keep track of who to watch out for in MLS.

GK: Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) – *ASN’s PLAYER OF THE WEEK*

ASN Philly’s Player of the Week for sure and Real Salt Lake fans would definitely agree. In almost every match report, it was Rimando’s play that allowed for RSL to walk away with their first three points of the season in a 1-0 shutout of San Jose. The Earthquakes pressed, unleashing a barrage in the last 15 minutes, but couldn’t beat the veteran keeper (although Chris Wondolowski helped, missing a sitter or two).

DEF: Zach Loyd (FC Dallas)

Loyd was a presence on both the offensive and defensive ends, especially as the Hoops were forced to bunker down after Brek Shea was ejected. Loyd provided a great feed to goalscorer Milton Rodriguez, one of several impressive crosses that the second year player out of UNC dished out on the day. Also had a goal disallowed in the 10th minute. Starting in place of a suspended Jair Benitez, Loyd may have made a case for a permanent starting spot on the left side.

DEF: Danny Califf (Philadelphia)

Last year’s captain showed no signs of indignation or dejection at his “demotion” and Faryd Mondragon’s ascension to the captaincy.  Showing his belief that the team comes first, Califf not  only scored his first goal as a member of the Union in just the season’s 5th minute, but played as solid a game at the back as we’ve seen from any defender since the Philadelphia side’s inception.  The goal itself was a product of chance as well as opportunity, with Califf cleaning up a loose ball at the goal mouth after Sebastien Le Toux’s strike clanged off the crossbar.  More important, however, was Danny’s multiple blocked shots and important clearances.  His performance in the opener went a long way towards showing that there is room for more than one leader on the pitch and in the locker room. – Sam Toma, ASN Philly

DEF: Jan Gunnar Solli (RBNY)

Solli was impressive in his debut – as Red Bulls fans expected him to be – making key runs on the wing. Nursing a hamstring strain, the Norwegian vet had no desire to sit out in the Red Bulls home opener and his play at right back bolstered a decent performance from New York as they handed Seattle their second loss of the week.

MID: Marcos Mondaini (Chivas USA)

Club owner Jorge Vergara was in the crowd and he wasn’t too pleased with the scoreline but the Argentine winger and Boca Juniors youth product certainly showed in his debut that he was going to play a big role in Robin Fraser’s re-tooled 2011 lineup. Mondaini kept the left flank open for traffic most of the game even as Sporting KC had their way with the Goats’ backline, winning 3-2.

MID: Teemu Tainio (RBNY)

Tainio and Lindpere could wind up being a dangerous duo in the midfield for the Red Bulls this season. Tainio, according to OptaStats, completed 88% of his passes and provided the long assist that led to Juan Agudelo’s gamewinner. Agudelo had to finish up the gamewinner but it was Tainio that switched things up (short passing in a cluttered midfield) and had the vision/precision to hit the long ball.

MID: Juninho (Los Angeles)

The Galaxy as a whole didn’t look much like their 2010 counterparts but Brazilian midfielder Juninho at least made sure they came out of their first week of the new season with four points. Two rockets for two goals should give him a couple nominations for Goal of the Week and steady play in the midfield, some key tackles, and a tireless work ethic were an added bonus.

MID: Davide Chiumento (Vancouver)

Possibly the best player on the pitch in the Canadian clash between Vancouver and Toronto FC. Made several pinpoint passes that if consistent throughout games this season, Chiumento should find himself on this list many times. Part of a Swiss duo that also includes defender Alain Rochat. Many are already predicting Chiumento to wind up as one of the top newcomers of the 2011 season.

FWD: Eric Hassli (Vancouver)

His DP status was questioned but the big French striker didn’t take long to cement himself in Whitecaps history. Hassli scored the first goal in ‘Caps Major League Soccer history and added another for good measure to help secure a 4-2 win over Canadian rivals Toronto FC. The question for all ‘Caps fans will surely be – can he keep it going?

FWD: Charlie Davies (DC United)

After 17 months and a brush with death, Davies is back doing the Stanky Leg. In fact, United fans should have had to pay extra – they got to see the Stanky Leg show twice. Dubbed the “best night of his life”, Davies registered a two-goal return to first-tier soccer. His post-match quote says it all: “You couldn’t even write a book about this. I mean, everything I’ve gone through, to come out and score two goals on the debut, after a year and a half of waiting …. It’s overwhelming.”

FWD: Omar Bravo (Sporting KC)

This week’s Major League Soccer “Player of the Week” misses out on the American Soccer News honor of the same name but that doesn’t mean his performance wasn’t less impressive. It’s fitting that it was Bravo that spoiled the home opener of the sister club to his former team, Chivas de Guadalajara, as he netted a crafty brace in what probably was one of the better DP debuts of recent history.

Bench: Greg Sutton (RBNY), Carlos Valdes (PHL), Juan Agudelo (RBNY), Dax McCarty (DCU), Jay DeMerit (VAN), Kei Kamara (KC), Omar Cummings (COL), Faryd Mondragon (PHL), Josip Mikulic (CHI)

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A win is a win in Houston, Union take three from Texas

Posted on 20 March 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Photo by Emily Pease, ASN Philly

What a difference a year and some change makes. The Union dismissed bad inaugural season habits  (2-12-1 away) in their season opener, winning away in Houston and grabbing a shutout all in one fell swoop to start the new year.

Piotr Nowak’s first starting lineup of the new season included a couple surprises. The omission of Danny Mwanga left some scratching their heads but it was the announcement of Faryd Mondragon as the captain for the 2011 season really had Union fans asking questions. Danny Califf, captain during the inaugural year, didn’t seem fazed one bit as he produced a performance that was worthy of captaincy – grabbing the game-winner and acting as part of a formidable defensive pairing with newcomer Carlos Valdes. The 5th minute Califf game-winner came off of a Sebastien Le Toux shot that rang off the cross-bar following a dangerous Sheanon Williams long throw. A putback that silenced the crowd of 19,000 plus at Robertson Stadium, Califf’s winner dampened the prospects of a new season for Dynamo fans.

The Union won a tough, gritty away match-up, a rare occasion during their 2010 season. After only two away wins and shutouts respectively last season, Union fans were certainly not expecting to leave Houston with a 1-0 shutout and with their first away points of the year. The new signings fared well, however, and provided a sense of composure even during the most hectic moments of the game. Faryd Mondragon won critics over making a couple critical saves and commanding his area with a reliability that was lacking with the Seitz/Knighton tandem of yesteryear. Carlos Valdes made several crucial interceptions in the penalty area and broke up Houston attacks alongside Danny Califf. Brian Carroll wasn’t lights out but he certainly displayed his pedigree, calm and relatively effective in transition. Carlos Ruiz angered Houston’s fans and the Houston backline, creating a chance or two for himself. For the most part, there was a glimpse of the positives and negatives of what El Pescadito has to offer (a dive here, a won free kick there). Several partnerships still need to develop (Califf/Valdes, Carroll/Miglioranzi, Ruiz/Le Toux) before the new Union can mount a consistent charge in the Eastern Conference but the pieces it’s clear are there. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins but if the Union are going to make the playoffs this season, winning ugly is a necessity.

The Union will open up their home schedule this coming Saturday, March 26, as Shea Salinas and the Vancouver Whitecaps visit PPL Park. The ‘Caps are coming off an opening day 4-2 win against hapless Toronto FC. Led by designated player Eric Hassli (two goals vs. Toronto) and American international Jay DeMerit, Vancouver will look to extend their opening day euphoria with their first away points in club history.

Photos, player ratings, and much more to come.

Philadelphia Union’s Starting XI




Le Toux——————Nakazawa———————–Mapp


Substitutes Used: Danny Mwanga, Gabriel Farfan, Amobi Okugo

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Agorsor, Jack McInerney, Roger Torres, Zac MacMath.

TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Sebastien Le Toux 2, Justin Mapp 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Justin Mapp 2); FOULS: 13 (4 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Justin Mapp 1); SAVES: 3 (Faryd Mondragon 3)

Houston Dynamo’s Starting XI

——————————–T. Hall——————————

Freeman——–Boswell———–J. Taylor———-Hainault


———————Garey————W. Bruin——————-

Substitutes Not Used: Mike Chabala, Eddie Robinson, Kofi Sarkodie, Tyler Deric.

TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Brad Davis 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 9 (Brad Davis 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Geoff Cameron 1); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Brad Davis 8); SAVES: 3 (Tally Hall 3)

Misconduct Summary:
PHI — Carlos Ruiz (caution; Reckless Foul) 20
HOU — Brad Davis (caution; Reckless Tackle) 22
PHI — Carlos Valdes (caution; Reckless Tackle) 44

Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee’s Assistants: Chris Strickland; Adam Garner
4th Official: Andrew Chapin
Attendance: 19,385
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Clear-and-76-degrees

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Philadelphia Union vs. Colorado Rapids: Player Ratings

Posted on 15 August 2010 by stoma

GK Chris Seitz (5.5)- Never really tested other than the out of nowhere mad rush to the goal that forced the keeper to punch the ball out hurriedly, leaving Colorado’s Jeff Larentowicz with the ball at the top of the area.  Seitz could do nothing about the perfectly buried goal in the lower right corner Larentowicz struck, but perhaps he could have held the free kick or at the very least struck his parry with a bit more conviction.  He was also unable to hold a free kick in the 64th minute, but that punch out did not hurt him.

RB Michael Orozco Fiscal (6)- Continued to show why he is gaining the confidence of the coaching staff with each passing game.  And as that confidence pushes higher and higher, so does Orozco-Fiscal’s position on the field, as he often gets down the length of the pitch to provide crosses into the box.  We even we saw a run all the way into the opposition’s penalty area in extra time, as a beautiful finish for the apparent winner was negated only by a late offsides flag from the lineman.  Clearly a more reliable crosser of the ball than Jordan Harvey.

CB Danny Califf (7.5 *ASN PHILLY MAN OF THE MATCH*)- Seemed determined to push higher on the field this game, but still managed to get back in plenty of time when required.  Perhaps this is something for Nowak & Hackworth to keep in mind, as Califf is at his worst when he has nothing to do put stay back and wait for attacks to come his way.   Instead, a highly involved Califf was at his best against Colorado: winning balls in dangerous positions, serving the ball down to Le Toux that lead to the equalizer in the 73rd minute and also serving the ball that led to the apparent winner by Orozco-Fiscal before it was called back for offsides.  All work and no play make Danny a dull boy.  And a dull Danny might just crack somebody upside the head with an elbow.

CB Juan Diego Gonzalez (6)- The silent partner at the back tonight, Gonzalez has only been here for three games and already it is easy to take his resilience and stability for granted.  He has quickly established himself as a staple with his solid man-marking, decision-making and natural ability.  The coaching staff is definitely spoiled for choice at the center back position.

LB Jordan Harvey (5.5)- A stronger showing this time out for Jordan, as he seemed to find the balance between his defensive responsibilities and finding the right times to push forward to join the attack.  With the addition of Mapp and the emergence of Orozco-Fiscal, Harvey has struggled to find a defined niche with the team.  During this game, however, he showed that his versatility can be his greatest asset, as he can complement the defense or the attack as the situation calls for.

MID Fred (6)- Without Mapp clouding issues of who should get the ball in the midfield and when, Fred was able to return to his high-flying, free-wheeling ways, working a productive and dangerous one-two with Danny Mwanga several times as he transitioned from midfield to attack.  While this did not produce any goals, it gave the coaching staff food for thought going forward as they work to define the roles of the team’s personnel.  Fred was taken off for Jack McInerney in the 83rd minute.

MID Eduardo Coudet (5.5)- With the return of Miglioranzi, Coudet no longer had to assume all of the defensive responsibilities in the midfield, freeing him to link the attack and actively participate, as he was able to show his touch from a few dangerous crosses.  Going forward, it is apparent that Coudet is the safe option at the other central midfield spot, but the team may be better served going for more speed, athleticism and creativity from the position.  In that vein, Coudet was replaced by Roger Torres in the 63rd minute.

MID Stefani Miglioranzi (6.5)- Back after two games missed with a groin injury, Migs sought to bring his stabilizing presence back to the lineup.  It is safe to say that he succeeded, as the unit seemed whole again, never really seeming threatened at the back other than the mad scramble that resulted in a 1-0 deficit for the Union.  Both viewers and teammates can take great comfort in watching Miglioranzi on and around the ball, as he effortlessly and without hurry moves himself into the correct position and rarely, if ever, makes a bad decision with the ball.

MID Sebastien Le Toux (6.5)- A center back’s absolute nightmare, the best thing about Seba is that every time he touches the ball, no matter where he is, he is looking to produce a goal.  No effort or touch is wasted in this pursuit.  This puts immense pressure on the opposing defense, forcing the action and, as the results of this season have borne out, produces eye-popping statistics.  Le Toux found Danny Mwanga several times this match, obviously garnering his 9th assist after using his speed to beat the defense down the field and get into the left corner before finding Mwanga streaking into the penalty area.  However, Seba also authored several near misses from Mwanga, nearly finding the rookie’s head on a cross in the 3rd minute and narrowly missing on another cross in the 20th.  Unfortunately, the pressure Le Toux puts on the referees does not seem to be producing just results lately, as for the second time in four games, an extra time takedown in the box is not called in Seba’s favor.

FWD Alejandro Moreno (6)- Returning from international duties with Venezuela, Moreno looked rejuvenated.  Maybe it was the time away from the club, maybe it was getting his 1st goal of the season, but Ale looked downright spry on the field.  He rattled the right post on a shot and had a goal called back for being offsides.  This was important in its own right, as Moreno has been rooted to the high midfield for most of the season; the fact that he is now looking to get towards goal is a great sign.  Eventually came off for Justin Mapp in the 59th minute.

FWD Danny Mwanga (7)- Another calm finish indicative of a savvy veteran, not of a rookie not even two-thirds of the way into his first season.  At this point, it’s fair to call the kid can’t miss.  Barring injury, he is going to have a fantastic career, both at the club level and, eventually, at the international level.  Now we have to hope that the US Federation does what they need to do to get him eligible for the U.S. team.

MID Justin Mapp (5)- Came on for Alejandro Moreno in the 59th minute.  One is left to wonder whether Mapp being left out of the starting XI was a concession to Moreno and his role as a leader of this team, or an acknowledgment that Justin is still not well-conditioned enough to go a full 90 minutes.  If that is the case, Piotr Nowak is correct in choosing Mapp for the latter part of the game than the early portion, but that choice did not pay off this time, as Mapp did not find himself a part of the action with any regularity.

MID Roger Torres (5.5)- Came on for Eduardo Coudet in the 63rd minute.  When on form or, perhaps, when he develops his ability to distribute to the strikers, Torres will help form the most athletic and dynamic look the Union can feature in the midfield, with Miglioranzi, Fred and Mapp.  However, while it is clear that Torres has returned to full speed from his injury and that he has the ability to beat his man from any position on the field, Roger will not make the next step until he learns at least two or three consistent, dependable ways to pass the ball into a dangerous position.

FWD Jack McInerney (N/A)- Came on for Fred in the 83rd minute as an extra striker in an effort to go for the winner.  Ultimately did not have a significant impact on the game.

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Danny Califf: Fit for Captaincy?

Posted on 18 April 2010 by stoma

Danny Califf, Terry McLaughlin@ASN

Far more so than in baseb all or football, a team captain in soccer carries a great deal of influence on the field of play.  In baseball, the play is always initiated by the pitcher, who throws to the hitter up at bat.  In football, the quarterback calls the play sent in from his sideline and, once the ball is snapped, all 11 players on either side of the ball perform their assigned roles.  Soccer, on the other hand, is a free-flowing sequence of motion to all areas of the field that allows for exponentially more autonomy amongst its players.  Furthermore, the relative lack of stoppages, coupled with the wide area covered by various players, does not provide many opportunities for coaches to communicate with their charges on any sort of in-depth basis.  The captain must often times truly be the coach on the field.

The captain of the Philadelphia Union is Danny Califf and, unfortunately, the above does not seem to describe his leadership thus far.  First, with the club jittery in the opening moments of the franchise’s first game, Califf threw Fredy Montero to the ground in the 1st minute, drawing a yellow card and setting the tone for a game rife with physical, oft-penalized play by the Union.  Did Califf’s play cause Toni Stahl’s two yellow cards?  Of course not, but if this side is to take its cue from their captain, the message they received was that there would be no holds barred.

Then, on Thursday, we see Califf swinging his elbow high to the head of Julian de Guzman, leaving referee Baldomero Toledo no choice but to pull out the red card and send Danny off.   Califf is someone that Philadelphia can embrace: individualistically expressive, with his tattoos and popular hairstyle, all while coming off as verbally understated.  However, Philadelphia demands someone who can be consistently depended upon and won’t flake out when the pressure is highest (see Hamels, Cole circa 2009).  In order to reach that level, Califf is going to have to control his impulses on the pitch.

The fact of the matter is that, as far as expansion MLS teams go, the Union are certainly no FC Toronto and only time will tell if they can follow the success of the Seattle Sounders’ opening season.  This team is certainly ready to compete from a talent perspective; after a first game in which they looked flustered and a step slow, they have had their stumbles, but consistently outplayed their next two opponents.  At present, however, that the team are their own worst enemy: mental mistakes like Califf’s stopping their progress as a team.  This is to be expected from a team full of teenagers and neophytes, all the more reason to require more from the few experienced veterans.

It’s a long-spouted coaching axiom that physical mistakes are acceptable, but mental mistakes are not.  What we saw from Califf was the rare physical mistake compounded by a mental error.  His lapse in judgment after playing a lazy pass back to Seitz was likely the deciding factor in the game.  Mind you, not so much that the sequence of events led to an opposing goal, but the Union being forced to play a man down for the remainder of the match and, most importantly, left without a leader.  Usually, you worry about such mental mistakes from young or inexperienced players, not a 10-year veteran with 20 caps for the US Men’s National Team.

Now, no Union players have expressed displeasure with Califf as captain and I am certainly not claiming to have any inside information here, but the fact remains: in 3 games, the Union captain has flown off the handle twice.  In both of those games, Philadelphia were beaten.  The third game, in which Califf was an absolute rock amidst a wild and hugely emotional crowd, was the franchise’s only victory.  If the story for this season is going to be “as Califf goes, so go the Union”, then, in this writer’s opinion, the veteran had better get his play under control and live up to the responsibilities of captaincy.

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Player Profile: Danny Califf

Posted on 29 March 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Full Name: Daniel Benjamin Califf

Position: Defender

Number: 4 (CAPTAIN)

Born: March 17, 1980

Birthplace: Montclair, California

College: Maryland

Height : 6’0″

Weight: 180

Previous Teams: Los Angeles, San Jose, AaB, FC Midtjylland

Salary: $250,000 (2010)

How acquired (Union): Signed on January 21, 2010 after two seasons with FC Midtjylland of the Danish Superliga.

International Career: Earned 22 caps with the US Men’s National Team, scoring one goal


2010 with Philadelphia: 28 games, 28 starts, 1 assist, Philadelphia’s first Captain ever

Did you know?

Danny has won two league Championships in his career so far – the MLS Cup with Los Angeles in 2002 and the Danish SuperLiga with AaB in the 2007-2008 season. Add that to two Supporters Shields, an Open Cup title, and a CONCACAF Champions Cup win and you’ve got quite the grizzled veteran.

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