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Philadelphia Union vs. Chivas USA: Updated Game Musings

Posted on 25 September 2010 by stoma

As we get ready to kick off here on a sweltering afternoon by the river at PPL Park, the Union are trapped in purgatory, somewhere between playoff relevancy and playing out the string.  They take on Chivas USA, who have endured an equally disappointing season, although their road has not been quite as dramatic a roller coaster as Philadelphia’s, their playoff dreams effectively dashed by a 7 game winless streak in May and June.

Not much by way of change in the lineup for the Union, although what they have rolled out can more be called a 4-1-3-2, with Miglioranzi supplementing the defenders full-time, and Fred as a central attacking midfielder with Le Toux and Mapp on the wings.

2′: Nice to see Sheanon Williams hold down his spot in the first XI as the season winds down.  He’s a project for sure, but if there’s one thing the Union have at this point, it’s time to develop players like Sheanon.  Their first year in the MLS has built up an incredible amount of goodwill in the community and among the fanbase, who have no call to complain what with the top-of-the-line stadium.

6′: The Union are playing as though they have not played in live game action in two weeks.  Of course, this is because they haven’t.  It’s not as though they look bad, it’s just that everyone’s touches are a beat slow.  Let’s see if they can turn it around as the game settles in.  However, if this early malaise leads to conceding a goal, all bets are off.

10′:  OK, so Fred is playing more of a roving central midfield role than a straight attacking mid.  Someone remind me to ask Piotr Nowak if this was pre-ordained or it’s just a concession to the fact that Fred is not going to stay in the area the team asks anyway.

14′: Checking to make sure this is not a high school game, as the touches are increasingly sloppy from both sides. The play says yes; the 16 thousand in attendance says no.

16′: Alan Gordon finds space and is two steps away from a 1 v. 1 with Knighton, but the young keeper sees it immediately and, with the FC Dallas game red card flashing before his eyes, goes to the ground feet first (he’s learning!) and clears the danger a second before Gordon can run onto the ball.

17′:  Immediate action the other way, with Sebastien Le Toux finding space and sending a lovely cross to the front of the goal, where both Danny Mwanga and Alejandro Moreno were crashing.  The ball finds the head of Ale, who pushes it wide right. One can’t help but think that Moreno would have found a way to hit the back of the net with that one 5 years ago. Heck, 3 years ago.

23′: Seriously, if there’s one saving grace for Philadelphia here, it’s that Chivas is in even poorer form right now.  Rodolfo Espinoza just basically got tired of waiting for Justin Mapp to make a move and went at his legs instead.  Good times.

26′: After yet another unsung play from Stefani Miglioranzi who, seeing no hopeful developments while holding the ball near the end line, banged it off a defender to draw the corner, the Union get on the board and notch a rare tally from a set piece.  For only the second time all season, Philadelphia scores off a corner, with Justin Mapp raising his assist total with a beautiful ball towards the back post that Alejandro Moreno helps all the way to the back post once he gets his head to it, looping it out of the reach of Zach Thornton to make it 1-0.  Moreno atones for his earlier missed header and puts home his 2nd goal of the season.

33′: In the immediate aftermath of the match’s first goal, not much has changed except for the mood of the Union supporters occupying the River End.  The sloppy play continues and neither side has changed tactics.  I will say, however, that Ale Moreno looks positively buoyed by getting his 2nd. He’s playing with very high energy right now.

37′:  Random note: Michael Orozco-Fiscal’s green boots > Danny Califf’s red boots.

42′: Both teams are now playing with one foot in the locker room.  This is one of the more disjointed halves of soccer I can recall viewing in some time.

43′: The new and improved Philadelphia central defense: through ball comes, first defender attempts to clear, second defender expects the first defender to fail at this task and tracks towards the action to finish the job. It’s like I always say: if you can do the job of 1 man with 2, then maybe unemployment wouldn’t be such a problem in this country.

43′: Full disclosure: I’ve never actually said that before.

45′: Justin Mapp just ran into Dario Delgado, who went down in a heap.  Mapp gets the yellow, Delgado gets the stretcher…which he refuses, of course.  Instead we get

45+’: Well, if nothing else, that run-in has woken the teams up.  Some fast paced action here in stoppage time, with Mariano Trujillo picking up a yellow card of his own for a hard tackle on Le Toux as he streaked down the touchline.

45+’: And there it is…goal #2, this time Fred puts home his 3rd of the year off of the free kick from Le Toux.  Seba put a semi-cross, semi-shot, all “hey, if I put this somewhere on frame, something good might happen” ball that Thornton got a mitt on, which accomplished nothing other than to direct the ball back towards the masses in front of the goal mouth.  Fred won the mad dash to the ball and slammed it into the back of the net to put the Union up 2-0 and send the fans to the concession stands happy, as the halftime whistle came almost immediately after the restart.  See you on the other side of the half.

As we begin the 2nd half, a couple of clarifications: (1) the assist on Fred’s goal was credited to Moreno, who got a slight touch on Le Toux’s cross, redirecting it towards goal before Thornton’s hand got in the way; and (2) Fred did, indeed, receive a yellow card for taking his shirt off after the goal.

45′: Andrew Jacobson replaces Danny Mwanga at halftime, which means that he slots into the other central midfield spot while Le Toux slides up top with Moreno and Fred & Mapp are the wings.

’50: Let’s explore this more.  If, three weeks ago, you had told me that Andrew Jacobson was the best substitute possible to improve the defensive side of the ball for Philadelphia, I would have [insert sign of incredulity here]. But, that’s just what Jacobson has become.  With his ability to push up and link the attack while still getting back in plenty of time due to his blazing speed and instincts, he is the perfect defensive complement to Miglioranzi in the middle.

55′: Chivas has now used all three of their allotted substitutions. This should end well for them.

’56: Sheanon Williams is an awesome athlete.  Fred sent a cross towards the back post in the air from the left flank just above the penalty area.  He did so after spotting a streaking Williams completing a run all the way from the backfield.  He did so after making eye contact with Williams, who didn’t break stride after a 40-yard sprint.  He did so after Williams adjusted his path to the goal just enough to give Fred a chance to time his run.  No, Williams did not get on top of the resulting header and put it on frame, but it was still a sight to behold.

’57: Sometimes, you wonder what Moreno is doing. Then, a few seconds later, after some deep reflection, you realize that he’s doing exactly the right thing, assuming that his teammates will also do the exact right thing.  In this case, he took a ball down the left flank of the penalty area and sent a low cross towards the back post.  Now, nobody was there or even close to there, but think about it: somebody should have been making that back post run.  I don’t  know whether it’s an endearing statement about how much Ale trusts his teammates to do the right thing despite myriad evidence to the contrary or incredibly foolhardy, but it’s definitely a big reason he’s so beloved in the locker room.  He’s going to treat everyone, rookie or veteran, like a pro.

’59: This has been a renaissance game for Moreno.  He came within inches of having a clear chance at his 2nd goal of the game to go along with an assist.  Le Toux chased down a long ball and sent a low cross towards a streaking Ale all by himself at the top of the area, but the ball managed to skip over Moreno’s foot before he could one-time it on net.

’67: Whether it’s the heat, the score or just a compendium of losing, Chivas is getting utterly frustrated. Ugly tackle by Michael Umana draws another caution for Chivas.

’67: That won’t help the frustration.  The resulting free kick is taken by Le Toux, who attempts to go through the wall.  But it’s the Union’s day, and for the first time this season, a deflection leads directly to a goal.  Le Toux gets his 12th of the season and the romp is on.

74′: Amobi Okugo on for Fred.  This not only saves Fred’s legs, but allows Jacobson to push forward a bit more.

77′: Final sub for the Union as Roger Torres makes his first appearance in a little while, coming on for Justin Mapp.  The infusion of youth on the pitch serves two roles: (1) this game’s in hand, no need for the veterans to risk further fatigue; and (2) with only 6 games left in the season, there’s an expansion draft to worry about and only a limited amount of players the team can protect.  Further, unlike last offseason when teams only had to worry about Philadelphia poaching their prospects and aged veterans, there are two new franchises (Portland & Vancouver) making the rounds. That’s two guaranteed players lost per team.  Better be sure about who you’re protecting.

’85: At this point, as Paulo Nagamura draws yet another yellow card for Chivas, you just have to hope nobody gets hurt for the Union as the result of a frustrated tackle.

POST: Another clean sheet for the Union, tying the MLS-low of 2 in one season and assuring they will not hold the ignominious record all by themselves.  With 5 games to go, perhaps they can even get another one and save their names from the record book.  In the immediate future, they pull within 6 points of Kansas City for 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.  Which means…well, nothing, ultimately, but it’s definitely a good showing and something for the home crowd to celebrate.

More importantly, this was the first game all season that Philadelphia won convincingly on the scoreboard and did not have to sweat out at the end.  They needed a game like this, where they took their chances and put the game out of reach early.  A game in which scoring didn’t seem so damn hard, in which the breaks actually seemed to go their way.  A game in which they didn’t look like a franchise in their inaugural season.  A game like this.

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Home Opener vs. D.C. United Live Blog

Posted on 10 April 2010 by Breton Bonnette

Well that’s it for us here. A Le Toux hat-trick gets the Union their first win. The players just jumped into the supporters section and people are sticking around, going absolutely nuts. We’ll  be back with much more later and tomorrow. Expect pictures, quotes, stats, etc. A really fun night.

WHISTLE BLOWN. First UNION WIN. Union fans were a little quick on that one…and there’s the FIREWORKS in Union colors.

90′ – Arrieta hobbling a bit after a run-in with Rodney Wallace.

90′ – The fans are standing up and waving like it is a Phillies playoff game. This is incredible. They want the win (clearly).

90′ – McInerney gets his first foul. Bodies a United defender off the ball. This kid will be really good one day.

Four minutes injury time.

89′ – Adam Cristman gets a yellow for mouthing off to the ref. United thinks they’re not getting any foul calls their way. Zimmerman in for Alejandro Moreno. That was a workhorse day for Moreno. I think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

88′ – Nick Zimmerman about to come in.

87′ – Chris Seitz is not having the best of games. A little rattled it seems. Both goals could have been prevented.

83′ – I can’t even keep up with this. McInerney with a cheeky touch to almost set up another Union breakthrough. The crowd is eating this up. Adam Cristman comes in for Danny Allsopp.

80′ – HAT TRICK LE TOUX!!! Right under the United wall and the Union take the lead. Le Toux is now Philadelphia’s favorite player. ATTENDANCE ANNOUNCED AS 34,870. 3-2 UNION.

78′ – Dejan Jakovic drags down Moreno and Terry Vaughn has no problems whatsoever throwing the RED. Red card Jakovic. A dangerous possibility at the top of the box. McInerney comes in for Jacobson. The Union are clearly going for the win.

76′ – Fred sets up Moreno nicely in the middle but Moreno can’t convert. It’s blocked by a United defense that has looked much better in the past 15 minutes or so.

75′ – Le Toux is leveled. The Union are spending a lot of time on floor. Jack McInerney is heading in shortly.

73′ – Shea Salinas finds some space only to be undercut by Santino Quaranta. Yellow card issued. United is a lot dirtier than the Union ever were in Seattle.

70′ – Wow. Unbelievable. DC United equalizes on a Jaime Moreno goal. Seitz dropped the ball while attempting to punt only to have Moreno pick it up, juke the goalkeeper, and pass it in the back of the net. 2-2 now.

68′ – Roger Torres is coming off to a standing ovation of 32k plus! Shea Salinas coming on. All of this after Moreno found Le Toux open but he was pushed wide by Jakovic.

66′ – Before that can happen, Danny Califf is taken down hard by United’s striker Danny Allsopp. Yellow card issued.

66′ – Shea Salinas is set to come on.

65′ – The momentum seems to be slowly shifting. A foul in the corner gives United a good chance at net. Quaranta’s free kick finds Allsopp but his header hits Seitz’s mitts.

63′ – GOAL DC. Santino Quaranta grabs a turnover in the midfield. The United midfielder takes a shot from 20 yards out.  A small deflection later it’s in the back of the net. 2-1 now and the United supporters are now awake.

62′ – Thomas, McInerney, Okugo, Salinas, and Zimmerman all warming up.

60′ – Yellow to new signing Arrieta after a tough tackle right outside the box. One more step and that would have been a PK. Pontius botches the free kick.

60′ – Very little going on. A little back-and-forth, possession evened out but no one is breaking through.

53′ – Another through ball springs Le Toux but he can’t put it past Pickens.

52′ – A Perkins touch keeps Michael Orozco from heading in the third goal.

51′ – Moreno is much more involved today. Arrieta is played into the corner and his ensuing cross is deflected out for a corner.

50′ – The Union continue to push forward and I repeat, Roger Torres continues to be dangerous.

46′ – Sub for DC, Jaime Moreno is in for Christian Castillo. Photographer Terry just came up here and said, “The SoBs are loud as hell”. Second half is off and rolling.

Sorry for not recapping. Heard some real good stuff from the Commish, Don Garber.

The First Half concludes – 2-0 Union so far and EVERYONE is on their feet. A great looking defense right now mixed with a dangerous front attack that looks in tune with each other. Can’t ask for much more at the Home Opener.

45′ – Danny Allsopp nods a corner kick high over Chris Seitz’s goal. First real nice look at goal.

45′ – Two minutes injury time. Torres stays in and almost springs a nice break as the United defense sleeps.

44′ – Torres taken down hard again by Barklage. This time it doesn’t look he’s getting up. Barklage is let off with a warning. The play continued on before Terry Vaughn came back to deal with Torres injury and Le Toux had a near post shot on the right side that Perkins parried away.

42′ – Now United is getting pissed. Barklage with a hard foul on the right side, second yellow card of the game issued.

40′ – Alejandro Moreno with a gorgeous through pass to Seb Le Toux!! GOAL LE TOUX. Le toux takes and outsprints by Castillo and James. The Frenchmen slots it home past Perkins for his second goal of the game. Matches last season’s total!

39′ – Chris Pontius with DC’s first shot at Seitz, deflected and out of bounds for a Quaranta corner.

39′ – Curt Onalfo is pissed about something. So is the United bench. No one else is sure why.

D.C. United wins in the colored boot match-up 4-2, Castillo, Quaranta, Wallace, and Pontius all with yellow and red kicks to Orozco and Jacobson (with purple and yellow respectively).

35′ – First yellow of the match issued to DC’s Rodney Wallace with a tough challenge on Fred. First card of the game and it wasn’t to a Union player!

32′ – Torres was down for a bit after a turned ankle but looks to be going at full speed again.

31′ – Some nifty close-quarters play on the left side  between Harvey, Torres, and Miglioranzi.

28′ – United’s other starting central defender Dejan Jakovic is down now, could actually be coming off. People are still flooding in by the way…I’m going to call it, 37k attendance-wise. Jakovic is now up, walking off and should stay in.

25′ – Califf with a nice diving stop of a dangerous through ball from Quaranta, the US international has been everywhere in the early going.

22′ – Now the lower bowl is close to full – whole concourse still FULL OF PEOPLE, the Secret Service must be doing their job a little more efficiently.

The Union are looking very comfortable on the ball. Torres and Le Toux especially.

18′ – The Sons of Ben are calling for a handball but Le Toux’s kick is blocked.

17′ – Moreno down again! Le Toux will take the free kick, on the left side about 20 yards out.

15′ – Pena can’t continue, former Houston centreback Julius James enters the game.

14′ – DC United’s Juan Manuel Pena is down injured. Awaiting treatment.

13′ – The ball is almost tackled into the net by Danny Califf but he is boxed out by Dejan Jakovic. DC tries to start a counter but it is broken up by Harvey.

12′ – Moreno bodychecked in the corner. Roger Torres is over the ball.

11′ – A couple hard challenges so far but Terry Vaughn is letting them play for the most part.

9′ – Le Toux has a shot blocked. If that was left untouched, it could be 2-0 right now.

3′ – GOAL LE TOUX!!! A cross from the right side was headed into the right post by Seb Le Toux, Roger Torres and Alejandro Moreno gets the assist! That’s the first Union goal ever. Glad we got that over with.

2′ – Moreno takes a tough hit, Torres and Le Toux standing over the ball about 22 yards out. Shot is parried.

6:12PM – Roger Torres strips a ball and has a nice run down the right flank. Pass to Le Toux disrupted. They have come out looking lively.

6:11PM – Don Garber and Walter Bahr will be available at halftime for comments!

6:11PM – AND WE’RE OFF!!!! The Sons of Ben are representing incredibly well. All in light blue, going crazy in the corner.

6:08PM – There are some pissed Union fans still waiting to get into Lincoln Financial Field, lined up all the way to Citizens Bank Park. A moment of silence for the Polish plane crash.

6:05PM – Fireworks as the National Anthem winds down. Crowd goes wild as they announce the starting lineup once again and Biden gets set to deliver the First Kick. Walter Bahr is presenting the Vice President with game ball. Biden puts the ball down, little girl kicks it, and Danny Califf receives.

6:00PM – Here comes the Union! Flags are waving and there are definitely 30k plus here. Just found out they have a huge contingent of over 300 kids from Chester attending the game for free! (alright, I have to lay off the exclamation marks) Joe Biden is on his way out dressed in Union garb.

5:53PM – Our photographer Terry is stuck in traffic and missing all the good pictures! Annoucing the Starting Lineups as I type…crowd just went wild with the Union. All the players are being announced with big “portraits” on the big screens.

5:49PM – Everybody is so spread out. There is probably 25,000 here right now yet it looks like much less if you don’t get the full picture. It looks like Carl Cherkin’s family is sitting right in front of the Press Box and the pre-game activities are getting set to start.

5:41PM – And they’re still filing in – Danny Mwanga is listed as a midfielder again this match.

5:31PM – Looks like 13 minutes until the Pre-Game Activities…we’re 30 minutes from game time and people are taking their good old time coming in.

5:23PM – So no Shavar Thomas in the starting line-up, Cristian Arrieta gets thrown right into the fire. The Union players have taken the field for warm-ups! Crowd that’s already inside cheers. What do you think of the line-up?

5:20PM – Union Starting Lineup

————————-Seitz—————————-

Arrieta——Orozco———Califf————Harvey

Torres—–Miglioranzi—-Jacobson———-Fred

—————-Moreno——Le Toux—————–

Fred could be in the middle slotted behind Moreno and Le Toux with Jacobson on the left but both former DC United players get the start.

5:12PM – The McFaddens SoBs are in their seats as Chris Seitz is warming up on the field with GK coach Rob Vartughian.

5:02PM – The Sons of Ben are on their way, led by the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales – meanwhile we have the DC United starting lineup. NO MORENO, but Danny Allsopp (big offseason signing) gets his first start.

————————Perkins————————–

Talley——-Jakovic———–Pena———Wallace

Barklage—-Morsink——–Quaranta——-Castillo

—————Pontius———Allsopp

4:56PM – From ASN colleague Sam Toma, “Just witnessed the entire DC United supporters group enter through the West Gate, chanting & singing even as they were going through security”. Now you can hear them from the Press Box…

4:49PM – So if (and when) the Union score, who’s it going to be that puts it in the net?

4:40PM – United’s record vs. an expansion team in their inaugural year is 14-4-1. Can we make that five losses?

4:37PM – Terry Vaughn will be the head ref today, averages around 4 yellow cards a game. Better tread lightly…Fans start to come in a much quicker pace now.

4:33PM – There goes FSC’s Christopher Sullivan. DC United players are walking the field while fans start to trickle into the lower bowl of the Linc.

4:27PM – Due to the death of the Polish president and the plane crash, Piotr Nowak will coach this match from a box instead of being on the sideline.

4:25PM – This is the 3rd time in DC United history that an Expansion Squad has played its first home match vs. the Red and Black.

4:15 PM – Spoke with a member of the Union front office and she said, “The phones have been ringing off the hook”. Expecting 35,000 or so…

4:10 PM – So here we are…over 35,000 plus expected and everyone has to be on their best behavior – no streamers, confetti, or breathing while VP Joe Biden is around. The game is set to kick off a little after 6PM. Steve Goff the Soccer Insider is here, Shawn Francis the MLS Insider, Grant Wahl – you name it, they’re here.

GAME PREVIEW

Union Injury Report

INJURIES:

Probable:
FW Danny Mwanga (Left Wrist Sprain/Left Calf Strain)
DF Danny Califf (Right Ankle Sprain/Right Hamstring Strain)
MF Stefani Miglioranzi (Left Groin Strain)
MF Amobi Okugo (Right Knee Strain)
FW Nick Zimmerman (Right Ankle Contusion)
Questionable:
DF Jordan Harvey (Left Knee Sprain)

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