Union / Union match reports

A poor start for the Blue & Gold

OK, OK, it was just the first game. Not only the first game of the season, but the first game EVER – on the road, against one of the top teams in MLS, on a slippery plastic pitch. One could argue the referee played a role. There is no need to panic. However, there’s also no need to gloss it over: the Union were poor last night.

Le Toux attempts to control ball, keep shirt (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images North America)

A few thoughts:

-It is a time-honored tactic of coaches in all sports to criticize referees or their opponents to deflect attention from their own team’s lack of performance. Peter Nowak’s post-match comments calling out Freddie Ljungberg for being a bit light on his feet come as no surprise, however that does not make them any less disingenuous. While the Freddies Ljungberg and Montero may have been, ehem, “embellishing” a bit, does this matter if they’re actually being fouled? Union players were making reckless and silly challenges. Dave Myrie, apart from looking way out of his depth, was lucky to escape with a yellow after launching himself into an NFL-style hit. Being a tough, physical soccer team is fine if you win games, but if the results don’t follow, it’s a great way to turn off a fanbase, just look at Bolton Wanderers.

-There appears to be a serious lack of pace in this team. Perhaps it was opening day jitters, but the Union players always seemed to be half a yard behind the game.

-Ryan Pine quite rightly pointed at the frankly bizarre starting formation as a reason for the team’s early struggles. Toni Stahl at center back is fair enough, many defensive midfielders eventually find their best position is in the back line. But as for Danny Mwanga in midfield…yikes. It’s just one game, but it begs the question, why spend the top pick in the draft on a player if you’re going to completely change his position?

-Jordan Harvey playing Montero onside is an early candidate for bonehead play of the year. I will give him a pass however, as I’m sure Peter Nowak gave him a right bollocking in the locker room afterwards.

There will be some growing pains with this team, and there are still many reasons to be optimistic. There is a core of young and promising talent, a great fanbase and what looks like will be a great stadium. But there appears to be a ways to go before this team really makes its mark in MLS.


  1. I definitely agree about the lack of pace. It was particularly pronounced in defense, but there were several balls in to the forward line that quicker players would have exploited, but our guys just couldn’t catch up to and lost the balls out to touch or the defense. I’m hoping Mwanga, for instance, was just tentative in the new position (which hopefully is a temporary thing), and that when playing up top has a more aggressive first step.

  2. While your point about Toni Stahl’s future positioning is well taken, it seems nearly criminal to make this switch for his professional debut, especially considering the central midfield role he vacated was filled by none other than Michael Orozco, a noted center back… Am I taking crazy pills?

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