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Wrap of Union USOC loss to Red Bulls

It quickly became clear that the roster differences from Saturday’s game – Brian Nielsen was the lone returning starter for the Red Bulls, while The Union mostly  kept to the usual suspects – were hardly going to hold New York back.

Nielsen harried the Union defense until his substitution in the 57th, cutting the ball in from the left flank on numerous occasions. On the right, there was the incessant attack of Sinisa Ubiparipovic. But of course, the true dangerman on the night was rookie Conor Chinn, who dropped a first-half brace in his first start for NY.

In the 16th minute New York’s Toni Tchani played a nice ball up the left flank to Brian Nielsen, who crossed from the left touchline. An errant clearance was sent back in by Seth Stammler, his shot caroming to Chinn, who made an easy task of it after Union keeper Chris Seitz blocked the initial shot quickly sent his way.

Seitz ate up an ensuing close in drive by Neilsen, and an adept play by Torres in the 24th minute prevented a nice forward pass from paying dividends. A period of sustained pressure later on by NY resulted in a perfect Sassano cross that Chinn expertly tapped in between Seitz and the near post in the 47th minute.

The Union looked set to charge back in the second with a slight uptick in tempo when Alejandro Moreno and Stefani Miglioranzi were subbed into the game at the start of the second half and Sébastien Le Toux came on in the 64th minute.

Fears of recent imprecision from Le Toux were quickly answered in the 68th minute when he buried – on the bounce no less – a quick Cristian Arrieta pass from the top right corner of the box into the upper right corner of the net, with keeper Greg Sutton’s stunned expression right before him.

Moreno nearly marshaled the troops towards a tie with several brilliant plays following Le Toux’s exit in the 81st minute after he was stretchered-off following a physical challenge from Andrew Boyens. The resulting yellow will be of little consolation if we loose our best offensive weapon to date.

With all of their substitutions used, the Union played the rest of the match with ten men.

Several Moreno inspired plays followed in the remaining time with the best chance coming in extra time when Moreno hit Salinas who found a charging Miglioranzi who drove the ball into Sutton. A moment later a stabbing shot following a close-in pass near goal just went wide of the left post.

Take away points:

Two disparaged Union defenders bounce back

While neither had perfect showings, both captain Danny Califf – coming off a red card suspension – and Toni Stahl – returning from cast away status following his week one double yellow exit – acquitted themselves well. Califf headed out a quick shot that appeared bent on the back of the net and his play more approximated the type of stewardship we need in the backline. Stahl alternatively stymied and was cut inside out by Brian Nielsen. Overall, he looked sure of himself, including one play in the 27th minute where he beat two Red Bull player by the side line to win a free kick. And with a deft volley he even forced Sutton to use his height to prevent the ball from dropping under the crossbar.

Seitz avoids blame while improving play

Sure, we can second-guess both goals to a degree, but the blame falls more on the defense then the keeper. He failed to eat up the initial shot on Chinn’s first goal due to the quick nature of the release – give the guy credit for not letting that one in – and the second tally was a result of a perfect play more than anything else. With the Red Bulls demonstrating a willingness to drop the ball in the box from the star, Seitz’s aggressiveness and positioning paid off numerous times amidst an attack that came from both sides and the middle. He was helped by some key blocks, but was also quick to eat up any follow-ups when those blocks went awry.

The Red Bulls should be a force as their “reserves” shine

What diminished line-up? Rookie Chinn scores two in his first start in a game that sees recent addition Brian Neilsen orchestrate amidst a return to fitness and draftee Tony Tchani match up well with Danleigh Borman in midfield. January add-on Chris Albright – that guy who formerly regularly featured for the US National Team – played well, delivering some expert crosses and a gutsy tackle that kept his team’s attack alive in the 76th, while squashing any concerns about his play being affected by his recovery from knee injury. And that guy with a big frame who got on the end of many a Union cross? His name is Greg Sutton and he looked more like a #1 goalkeeper than a backup.

The theme of maturation continues for The Union

Torres and Jacobsen had flashes of great chemistry up the flank. But, much as the season has gone, both were a few hairs to several feet off the mark on crosses and long balls into the area, with nothing to show being the result either way. As a whole, the Union are slowly working to get into phase with each other. Insert Fred into tonight’s lineup and then give Danny Mwanga some more confidence – which, hopefully, would lead to better vision and judgment – and perhaps the attacks would be both more concerted and more frequent.

At the very least, you have to like Nowak’s approach

For a young team in their inaugural season, it was a no-brainer to go with many of your regulars. With the 2-1 loss, the team psyche could hardly be affected, as our top strikers were held out until late, followed by playing at ten men after Le Toux’s exit in the 81st.  And, as should be apparent, reserve team or not, The Red Bull’s hardly put out much of a B team, with top young talent, recent key acquisitions and academy players combining to pay dividends on their heretofore promise.

Without Moreno, Torres developed a new dynamic with Jacobsen, and Mwanga was forced to figure things out by himself at midfield. Mwanga showed hints of brilliance before being stymied many times, so perhaps the next time he has Moreno with him he’ll look to pass earlier.

Blame the referee for Le Toux being stretchered off.

With all the fouls that weren’t called, the yellow given to Boyens in the 81st following his challenge on Le Toux was more a reflection of the idiocy of the officiating rather than a game controlling influence.

Player Grades (out of 10):

Chris Seitz: 6

He bounced back well, always putting himself in the right place, while showing more of a keenness for the ball. Only a more experienced keeper would have stopped both goals he let in. He’ll get there.

Shea Salinas: 6

Involved in several Union threats on goal, including a brilliant charge into the box from the left, where he drove between two defenders and cut inside before drilling it into Sutton. His service was good, but like his teammates, his finish needs a lethal edge and there has to be more of an ability to sustain an attack.

Michael Orozco: 3

The reason you kept hearing “Ubiparipovic, Ubiparipovic, Ubiparipovic” all night as the right flank was often his to be had.

Danny Califf: 6

Despite a near communication breakdown where he simply booted it out with Chinn rushing on him and the nearby Seitz, Califf was much more steady, breaking up numerous plays from the flanks that the fullbacks were unable to stifle.

Toni Stahl: 5

Like Califf, he played a much more mature game. Unlike Orozco, he was at worst even with his Red Bull counterpart, Brian Nielsen, while demonstrating at times the cool headedness of Fred.

Roger Torres: 6

Not his best game by far, though he worked well with Jacobson, checked back nicely a few times, and showed that, once he settles in, his crosses will be deadly. The free kick he dropped in before the keeper in the 6th minute was sadly mishandled.

Andrew Jacobson: 5

Very mercurial in the match, he seemed ready to break through to goal several times early on, only to sour things by trying to do to much (see Mwanga). Also, he was one of the many guilty parties who wasted possession, with his beautifully curving, yet harmlessly wide left-footed cross from the right flank in the 32nd being a fine example.

Amobi Okugo: 5

Showed strength in the back of mid, while lacking at times in creativity. Like Califf, he leapt to the occasion numerous times to save the day.

Nick Zimmerman: 5

???

Danny Mwanga: 5

His grade could easily be a 7 or 8 but wasteful possession that had so much promise is unforgivable. His best play involved a clear foul the referee did not call, followed by a cut to legally beat another defender and powerful shot from atop the box that went wide. Did we mention the phrase, learning curve?

Jack McInerny: 4

Mishandled a brilliant Salinas ball in the 53rd that drifted over the defense and should have been buried, though it’s a wonder the flag didn’t go up. His set pieces were also off and he seemed to drift in and out of the game, though he did well to connect with a curving Jacobson free kick, even though he put it right on Sutton.

Subs:

Cristian Arrieta: 6

What a pass from the top corner of the box to find Le Toux for the goal.

Sebastien Le Toux: 7

He was an instant threat and finished perfectly when called upon to do so. We can only hope he isn’t out for long. His long range free kick – dropping and curving to the left post – gave Sutton trouble soon after his arrival into the match.

Alejandro Moreno:  7

Same as above, with his inspired play nearly drawing us even. One only hopes his takes on net begin to equal his play-making.

Stefani Miglioranzi: 5

Decent play with several rushes up through central that may have paid off if not for timely blocks or a willingness to find the keeper.

Chris Seitz; Shea Salinas, Michael Orozco, Danny Califf (C), Toni Stahl (Cristian Arrieta 45); Roger Torres (Alejandro Moreno 45), Andrew Jacobson, Amobi Okugo, Nick Zimmerman (Stefani Miglioranzi 45); Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney (Sebastien Le Toux 64)

Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Union.

5 Comments

  1. I wish writers would stop citing as this being a cast of regulars vs a reserve squad. The Red Bull team though littered with three rookies still had tons of experience. Their whole back line played games with one another last year and 3/4 of the midfield was veterans. The Union though playing with several starters featured 4 players 18 or younger (that might be a record), a out of position right back and left back as well as well as a out of position midfield. I’m convinced the Union have zero wing players. Jacobsen is a box to box guy, Torres prefers to cut inside and Zimmerman deserves to be on the bench. Our best wing player is Arrieta who is irreplaceable at rb.

    Besides excuses of out of position players and forwards who had no idea how to make runs and stay onsides the Union just looked awful before the real players were subbed in. They seemed to barely be trying and I think your view on Calif and Stahl is little on the naive side, Calif was not marking Garcia on the third goal and really seemed to play with zero passion- not acceptable from your captain.

    I hope the effort picks up because they arn’t getting any more talented any time soon.

  2. Yep, a bunch of center mids, but Salinas is a winger. That’s where he belongs. He’s the truest winger the Union have, and he’s definitely impressed at moments. I’d like to see more of him.

    The Red Bulls had one regular starting — brand new signing Brian Nielsen. The Union had 5 regular starters in. It is what it is. Yep, the youngest players looked pretty bad, for the most part. Jack Mac muffed a point blank scoring opportunity. Okugo and Mwanga looked lost. Torres apparently can’t play the Red Bulls. They’re kids. Can’t blame them.

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